Sunday, December 28, 2008

Avs beat Wings, Part 2

Yes, that title is true. And while I've been battling not one, but two bouts with the flu since early Monday morning, I somehow found enough strength to make it in front of the tv for this one. I'm not going to write much as I need my sleep, but.. HAHA to any Wings fans out there :). Happy Holidays everyone. I'll be back when I recover fully.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I tried as hard as I could to think of one, single, solitary good thing that happened in today's game, but sadly, there is absolutely nothing worthwhile to write about.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lineup changes for Thursday night

The Avs travel to Tampa tomorrow and they will have both Darcy Tucker and BEN GUITE (!!!) back in the lineup. Philippe Dupuis has already been sent back, and I assume either Hensick or Cody1 (McCormick) will be the other forward scratched because I feel Stewart has been outplaying the both of them. In other, more controversial news, Andrew Raycroft will be getting the start in net over Peter Budaj. Raycroft played a hell of a game on Monday, but I don't think Peter deserves a benching after a flukey goal or two last night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



That's the sound of the Avs falling back down to Earth after an improbable win last night in Detroit. And that's not to say that the Avs didn't play well tonight, because they did. But they just seemed to be a bit outmatched by a better team who wanted it more, and who managed a few lucky bounces on the way. And even as the diehard fans we are, did we REALLY expect the team to dominate a red-hot Flyers team in their home building while the Avs are playing the second game of a back to back? In my heart, I expect the team to win them all, but there's some games that I know will be tougher than others, and this, of course, was one of them.

The Avs started out strong, just as last night, and Paul Stastny was able to score a PPG off what seemed like a broken play as he won the faceoff, and pushed it off the boards to Hejduk or Smyth, but both of them were tied up and the puck managed to find it's way right back to Stastny's stick, which he quickly stick-handled to his forehand to put it in the net. The Flyers didn't allow that lead to last long however, as they got goals by Mike Knuble on the powerplay and a shorthanded goal by Jeff Carter before the end of the period.

The second period saw the Flyers extend their lead to a comfortable 4-1 before David Jones had an absolutely beautiful tip-in on a T.J. Hensick from the point. I was a huge critic of him earlier in the season, partly because Guite was being benched in his favor, but I really think this guy is starting to come around and find his groove on the ice. The second period also saw two fights, the first resulted from Chris Stewart standing up for Jonesy after he took a big hit from Aaron Asham into the Flyers bench. I love Stewart more and more each game, and I feel that he won the fight as well. The second fight was a bout between Lappy and Scott Hartnell. I never knew Hartnell to be much of a fighter, but he definitely was ready for this one with Laperriere.

In the third, the Flyers scored their fifth and final goal of the night, bringing the score to it's final, 5-2 mark.

I really can't put too much blame on the Avs as a whole for this one, as some goals were flukey, and others were just great goals that most goalies wouldn't stand a chance against. They obviously were a bit tired after the game in Detroit last night, and you could sense that about halfway through the game. Jones had another great game, as did Stastny and Smyth, as usual. The Avs travel to the state of Florida next for two games before coming home for one game before the holidays. Barring any unforeseen news in the Avs world, I will be back Thursday to talk about the game against Vinny LeCavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Red Wings win (opposite day edition)

I saw it, but I really don't believe it.. Did the Avs REALLY just beat the Red Wings, in Detroit, with Andrew Raycroft in net??? Pinch me, for I think I am dreaming!

In a game that no Avs fan really thought that they could win (don't deny it!), the Avs pulled off the absolutely unexpected and beat the team that has plagued them for longer than I can remember on their home ice. The team started the game stronger than almost any game this entire season. On a beautiful steal by Wolski in the neutral zone, just a minute into the game, he fed the puck to Tyler Arnason, who dished it back to him as he came in all alone on Osgood, and then proceeded to make Ozzie look like a mere rookie with one of his totally awesome moves usually reserved for the shootout. Just three minutes later, Paul Stastny decided a one goal lead wasn't enough and blasted a wrister top-shelf from the circles on the powerplay. 2-0 in Detroit, four minutes into the game?!?!?! WOW. A few minutes later, the Avs found themselves on the short end of a 5-on-3 with the league's top powerplay unit attacking their backup goaltender. Somehow, no pucks made it in and this probably ended up being the biggest penalty kill of the season thus far. If the Wings had cut the lead to just one that early, I think the entire momentum would've shifted in their favor, and we all know that is an absolutely terrible thing.

Raycroft, or "Rayzor", decided to give his best impression of #33 and came up with a number of huge, statue-of-liberty, glove saves, along with many other incredible saves, including some where he was completely out of position and had to scramble to get back and block the shot (Note: I refuse to actually come out and compare Rayzor to #33 by name, so the number will do for now). Of course, he couldn't stay perfect forever though and let in a second-period goal resulting from a big mess of bodies in front of the net. I won't necessarily place the blame on him on that one, it's just a matter of getting lucky in a situation like that.. every goalie saves some and lets others in.

Early in the third, the top-line, consisting of the Codys and Philippe Dupuis (what?) were battling in front of the net trying to slap the puck in when it seemed like a Detroit defender fell on the puck, aka PENALTY SHOT. I guess Granato felt like those three forwards score way too many goals and wanted to give someone else a shot, so he put the puck on Jordan Leopold's stick, and he proceeded to make Ozzie look like what we thought the goalie across the ice would look like, as he easily buried the puck on the backhand. The Wings managed to get another goal to pull the score to within one, but failed to tie it up in the final minute with no goalie.

To say I'm impressed with this win might be the understatement of the year. As much as I love this team with every fiber of my being, there's just some games that I know will be a loss. Apparently, I don't know this team as well as you would think a fan of 16 years would know a team as they completely surprised the sh*t out of me tonight. Tyler Arnason had a great game (yes, I know, oxymoron), as did David Jones, possibly his best of the year, even though he failed to get on the scoreboard.

Let's hope the team can keep it up as they play the red-hot Flyers tomorrow night. Budaj will be back in net, but it seems that Svatos, Guite, and Tucker will remain out of the lineup, even though they are on the trip with the team.

Game #30 Preview

Tonight the 14-14-1 Avs travel to Detroit to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions in their home building. The Avs were 0-8 against this team last season (including a second-round sweep in the playoffs), and Andrew Raycroft will be found between the pipes tonight (at least to start the game..). Disaster waiting to happen? You tell me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


From the Avs site:

Darcy Tucker (knee) and Ben Guite (ribs) were both on the ice this morning, sporting bright orange non-contact jerseys. Both players joined the team when it embarked on its road trip this afternoon.

“I think they’ll both be able to play on the trip…I would doubt tomorrow night,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato.

Stop the presses! The best player in NHL history is making his return this week!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blackhawk Down (opposite day edition)

After a two-plus week stretch where the Avs looked like the team that us Avs faithful had hoped and longed for, and gaining 11 out of 16 possible points, the team hit a monstrous wall in the third period (sound familiar?) and fell right back to Earth, where most "experts" had predicted.

The Avs gave up a very early goal on what seemed like a defensive breakdown in front of the net as a bunch of Avs players just stood around, letting Craig Adams skate right up to the puck and put it in the net on a shot that Budaj would've had on one of his good nights. The Avs didn't let them get that down though as MVP #2, Chris Stewart, shot an absolute BOMB from the point, Rob Blake-style, off of a beautiful drop-pass from Lappy, and beat the Bulin Wall top-shelf. This guy is here to stay, my friends, and I couldn't be happier for him. Lappy followed up his assist with a nice tip-in goal in front of the net, coming on the end of a great play by JM-Liles, who had by far his best game of the season. He took the puck from deep in the Avs zone and skated all the way down to nearly the Chicago goal-line, before feeding it to the front of the net as both Lappy and Stewy crashed the net for the tip in. Lappy got his stick on it, and then proceeded to give Johnny one of his patented post-goal kisses and exclaimed something along the lines of "What a f****n play!". As JM was skating across the red-line during the play, I said to my dad, "Look at Bobby Orr out there", and lo and behold, he actually finished the play in Bobby Orr fashion.

The second period didn't see much action, save for the Hawks tying the game at two on yet another goal that Mr. Budaj should've had. Four minutes into the third, however, Wojtek Wolski decided to take the game into his own hands, and made a play that Toews and Kane could only dream of, as he split through two defenders as he crossed the blue-line and made no mistake in burying the puck top-shelf. Could this be the start of a breakout year for Wooly? I sure f'n hope so! However, in the typical Avalanche style that we, as fans, have grown accustomed to since the lockout, the team decided to blow a third period lead, and not even get to overtime to secure a point. Hawks Goal #3 was ANOTHER goal that Budaj 100% should've had, as he let in an extremely weak five-hole goal to someone not necessarily known for scoring. Hawks Goal #4 came three seconds after the end of an Avs penalty, and I think was a result of the players just being dead-tired out there.

This was a very important game for the Avs, as a win would've put them within striking distance of the division lead, but this loss sets them towards the back of the pack, where they've spent most of the season thus far. This was a very winnable game, as the team had the lead with only 10 minutes to go. The loss is a bit inexcusable to me because I really feel they should've won this one, if it weren't for the bad goals Budaj let in. I am a big Budaj supporter, and maybe he was tired from being over-played due to the lack of a quality backup, but he really should've made those saves in a game with this significance. I know you can't win 'em all, but this was one that should've been won by the burgundy and blue.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Game #29 Preview

Tonight, the Avs host old buddy Joel Quenneville and his Chicago Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center. This will mark Q's first return to the can since his departure earlier this calendar year. Adam Foote will return to the line-up after missing the past three weeks with a whole slew of injuries, and Marek Svatos will be out after being listed as "day-to-day" after Tuesday's game. I was hoping that Granato would go the Q route and dress seven defensemen in tonight's game since the team is a forward short after losing Svatty, but it doesn't look like that will be the case as TG said that Daniel Tjarnqvist will be watching from the press-box, just as he was pre-Foote injury. I'm not sure I totally agree with this call, as Tjarny has been playing great in Foote's absence, but I guess that's why I'm not the coach. The Avs has called up forward Philippe Dupuis from Lake Erie to fill the empty void at forward, and could see his very first NHL action tonight. I don't know much about the guy, but I always like giving young guys a chance to prove themselves with the big team.

Game #28 Recap

If you consider yourself an Avs fan, there is no way that Tuesday night's game wouldn't be considered one of the best games of the year. The Avs came out strong, and kept the pressure on for nearly a full 60 minutes, something that is usually not one of their strong points. Just 3:28 into the game, Marek Svatos found the back of the net for the sixth time this season. On the ensuing faceoff, Lappy and Mr. Zeiler got down to business, which every Avs fan across the world was hoping for as Zeiler was the one to knock our poor Footer out of the lineup for nearly three weeks with a dirty hit. Lappy showed him what was up, and easily won the fight. Just 24 seconds later, Milan Hejduk was able to put one past Jason LaBarbera on a beautiful feed from Paul Stastny who was hiding behind the net. As soon as I saw the pass coming from Stazz, I stood up to cheer because I know my Hedjie will always bury that shot. Eight minutes later, Cody McLeod was able to keep his MVP campaign with his fourth goal of the season after knocking Derek Armstrong out of the game earlier in the play, which Mark Rycroft claimed to be "great" in the post-game show.

Two minutes into the second period, Ryan Smyth was able to score the first PPG of the night, on a beautiful feed from behind the net from T.J. Hensick. To be honest, it reminded me of an Andrew Brunette special, but this is not something I expect to see out of Henner every night, unfortunately. Two minutes later marked my favorite Avs moment of the season. Chris Stewart chased down the puck as LaBarbera was playing it in the 'zoid behind the net, and generated a steal. He then fed it to the front where Tyler Arnason failed to put it in (surprised?) but the rebound came right to Mr. MVP, Cody McLeod, who made no mistake in burrying it for his second of the night. However, as soon as he started to celebrate Raitis Ivanans attempted to ruin the party by attacking Cody for being a much better and far sexier player than he could ever dream to be. There was a bunch of pushing and shoving, but no real fights broke out. However, Cody taunted the big guy all the way to the box and even from inside the box as Raitis skated by. I must have watched this clip on youtube ( nearly 30 times by now, and still crack up every time. I absolutely love the fire and passion that Cody brings to the ice every night, and he is now the leading candidate for the jersey I will buy for next season so long as he gets re-signed. To make things even better, my homie, Chris Stewart, scored his first NHL point (assist) on this play, and I immediately went on facebook to congratulate him. Apparently getting his first NHL point wasn't enough as he followed it up with a short-handed goal on a breakaway later in the second, on which I had to offer my facebook congratulations yet again. Either he thinks I'm the coolest fan in the world, or he's one more "congratulations" post away from deleting me. At this point, it was 6-0, but the Kings managed a PPG of their own from new-comer Oscar Moller, ending Budaj's hope for a shutout.

Nothing major happened in the game after this, as 6-1 was the final, but being in the same room as a Kings fan for this game definitely had it's perks. My fellow Avs fan friend, Paul, and I came home about 10 minutes before game time, and the house was decorated with Kings paraphernalia nearly everywhere from my dear father. However, with each goal scored, I removed one Kings item from it's place and promptly threw it on the floor and stomped on it. Needless to say I was doing a lot of stomping! Fun night in the Hersh house-hold, let me tell you. To make things even better, we put a window-cling with a puck on it on my dad's back-windshield and put an Avs hat next to it, just to rub it in a little bit more (see picture below).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sakic Injury Update

Well, unfortunately, I guess it could be considered a "down-date" at this point. Yesterday afternoon, our very own SuperJoe broke three fingers and had tendon damage after a fight with his snow-blower, his first fight since the HOWDOYOULIKETHEMAPPLES bout with Dougy Gilmour. He had surgery on the tendon damage last night and is expected to make a full recovery, thankfully. However, now, on top of the back injury which was supposed to sideline him for six or more weeks, this injury will keep him out of action for about three months, or in my opinion, forever

Oh SuperJoe, please stop tugging on my heart-strings.

I will be posting my recap from last night's game later tonight, as I am off to attempt to fend off my sorrows at the happiest place on Earth that's not Ben Guite's house.. Disneyland.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Game #27 Recap

It's been a while yet again, and this past week was weird as it was an Avs-free week for me. Don't think I'm jumping ship at this point, rather, please allow me to explain. I spent the week with my family in lovely Las Vegas, missing three Avs games in the process. But never fear, faithful readers! I recorded not one, not two, but ALL three games on my tivo, and came home Friday night to an absolute Avalanche marathon! Now to make this task a complete success, I had to cut myself off from the Avalanche world for the entire week; no blogs, no Avs site, no nothing. It was tough, especially since my TV rarely leaves ESPN, but I somehow managed to make it five full days only seeing "Stastny: 2g, 1a" scroll across the ESPN's bottom-line during Monday Night Football. Can't win 'em all, right? The Avs seem to live by that rule, so my blog will as well.

So while Friday's Av-tastic (use that word, free of charge) marathon brought a great deal of mixed emotions through our teams efforts, I won't attempt to document all of them as I was running on a week's worth of "Vegas sleep" (about four hours a night or less) and can't remember much worth documenting.

So in that case, we fast forward to tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks, losers of the last seven against the mighty Colorado Avalanche. Friday marked the first career NHL game of my dear facebook friend, Chris Stewart. While he didn't have a note-worthy debut, it wasn't necessarily bad either. Tonight, however, he appeared to have much more of a jump in his step (skate?), and the coaching staff noticed it as well, putting him on the ice for nearly 13 minutes, up from a mere 7.5 on Friday. This is a guy I've always wanted to see succeed, so although I hate the fact that the injury bug has already launched a full-scale attack on our roster, I'm glad to see him out there as well. As usual, Budaj made a number of huge saves to keep the team in the game, and for once, the team decided to put the necessary amount of pucks in the net to win a high-scoring game. As usual, part two, the RPM line was flying out there, combining for eight points, and a +8 rating. As usual, part three, our shootout shooters were stellar, finding the twine on all three shots. As noted by Shane, I think the Avs might have the most formidable three-some of shooters in the league. Wolski is an absolute beast in shootouts, logging the second best percentage of shootout goals all time, while Svatos and Hejduk aren't exactly slouches either. Budaj seems pretty dang confident in net for shootouts as well, something that plagued him earlier in his young career.

Tuesday night, the Kings and the most hated man in Denver, John Zeiler, travel to the Pepsi Center to take on a pissed-off Lappy and the rest of the squad. The Hersh house will be in it's fourth civil war of the season (three Avs vs Kings games and one fantasy football matchup) with me being the victor over my father on all three occasions. Let's hope this trend continues!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Game 22 Preview

In an extremely rare Friday afternoon game, the Avs will travel to Phoenix for the first game of the year against Gretzky's Coyotes. Apparently, the Coyotes will be playing in their new (read: ugly) third jerseys for the first time this season, but don't expect much as the Avs de-throned the Kings on the night of their third jersey unveiling this past weekend. Foote and Liles are still out, and Sakic looks to be a game-time decision. Look for Tjarnqvist to be in the lineup again, after playing what I thought to be one hell of a game on Wednesday night, tallying a goal and an assist. Also look for Lappy to continue his hot streak of three points (2g, 1a) in the last two games. Coincidence or not, ever since I picked up a snazzy new "It's All About Lappy" wristband from Karen on Saturday, Lappy has been on absolute fire. A Gordie Howe hat-trick with a fight against Carcillo would absolutely make my day.

If you'd like to pick up a Lappy wristband, or other merchandise, please visit It goes towards a wonderful cause and is run by great people who would really appreciate your support.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Total Avs Update!

Once again, it's been awhile, and I do apologize for that. Since I've last posted, a lot has happened in the world of the Avs.

-Peter Budaj has been on an incredible hot-streak, save for a soft goal against the Kings Saturday night. In one of the most exciting Avs games in recent memory, he out-dueled the great Roberto Luongo, on the road nonetheless, in a 2-1 shootout victory. He followed that up with another shootout win, this time 3-2, a few days later in Edmonton, in a game that many would say that he completely stole. Saturday night, he won yet another shootout game, blanking all three Kings shooters.

-The team's offense is still struggling, although signs of hope could be seen in the Kings game Saturday night, as three pre-shootout pucks found the back of Ersberg's net. Also, Super Joe is scheduled to return tonight, which might be able to provide the spark they're looking for.

-Paul Stastny signed the contract extension that we all knew would be coming, for what seems to be the going rate for the up-and-coming superstar/future face of the franchise. At five years, $33mil, it works out to $6.6mil per year, which really isn't too much to be paying him to replace Sakic in the future
*Note: It took me a while to actually type out that last sentence and believe it will have to happen some day.

-In Saturday night's game against the Kings, which I was lucky enough to attend, there were two VERY scary moments, as both Adam Foote and Wojtek Wolski were checked head-first into the boards, and laid motionless on the ice for a good few minutes each. Foote's seemed so serious that they actually brought a stretcher on the ice. Upon seeing this, my heart completley sank to the floor, possibly even the core of the Earth, but moments later, he got up and skated off the ice with help from his teammates and trainers. According to the Denver Post, Wolski seems to be in better shape, and could even play tonight in Anaheim. Foote has already been ruled out for tonight, allowing Tjarnqvist to see his first action of the season, but the injury doesn't seem to be as serious as it looked.

-Tonight the team travels all the way to sunny Anaheim, California to take on those damn Ducks. Actually, our normally sunny climate out here in California is bringing us rain tomorrow, my 23rd birthday, and keeping myself from celebrating at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. For that, I give a gigantic two middle-fingers up to whoever controls the weather down here. Thanks for ruining my birthday, a-holes! Sakic looks like he'll be back in the line-up, and if Wolski plays as well, Jones and Arnason should be watching the game from up above in the press box. It should be a tough game against a physical Anaheim club, but hopefully the team will be able to out-physical the Ducks on their way to a whopping 10-10 record on the season.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Game #15 Preview

I make my return to this blog with some very bad news. My beloved Ben Guite is out "indefinitely" with a rib injury. How will I possibly go on without him? I really don't know. All I know is, I'm going to miss that damn stache.

Anyway, tonight the Avs travel to red-hot Vancouver (hot as in the way the team is playing, not the weather), to take on the Canucks. Luongo is currently riding a three-game shutout streak, which would've ended tonight with a Guite hat-trick (we can dream, can't we?!), but now the team will have to rely on the likes of others to get the job done. Mr. Sakic didn't make the trip with the team due to his ailing back, so I assume our slew of under-acheivers (Jones, Arnason) will be in the line-up tonight, poised to do.. very little. Peter Budaj has a one-game shutout streak of his own going right now, so the hot goaltending won't only be coming on one end of the ice tonight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Game #10 Recap

What could be said about this game? The Avs, particularly Andrew Raycroft, looked like an absolute disaster on the ice. The first two goals of the game were given up on nearly identical shots, beating Razor glove-side, top-shelf. To be honest, the only player I noticed making a constant effort on the ice was none other than the team's constant scapegoat for any and every problem, Tyler Arnason. What a shocker there. Maybe he finally realized that his job was in jeopardy and decided to play his heart out last night, and it showed. The only other positives to be taken from this game was the lack of penalties taken, zero minor penalties and three majors for fighting, and a 2 for 4 night on the powerplay. Let's hope the Avs got all of their bad play out of their systems over the last four periods and will come out flying on Sunday against the best in the west, the San Jose Sharks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Game #10 Preview


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Game #8 Recap

Before I get into tonight's game, I apologize for the lack of updates for the last two games. On Monday night, I was consumed by the Patriots on Monday Night Football and with my FFF (fantasy football fate) hanging in the balance, I held off on watching the Avs/Kings game until after football. By the time the game ended, and I had gloated in front of my dad (the world's biggest Kings fan) for a good five minutes, I was too tired to formulate my emotions on the game into coherent thoughts. I then got sick Tuesday morning, and am still trying to fully recover from it.

Luckily, the Avs have kept their win streak alive as it now stands at FIVE, count 'em, five straight games after dropping the first three contests of the season. The latest victim on the way to a 79-3 season were the previously 6-0-1 Buffalo Sabres. I was a bit nervous going into this game after seeing their record this season, and seeing as the Avs haven't truly been tested by a team playing at the top of their game yet this season, but the team seemed to match up pretty evenly against the Sabres. The first period was quite exciting, as their was a ton of action at each end, and hitting galore. Adam Foote got hit in the ankle by a shot early in the game, which seemed to be serious, but a few minutes later, he was back on the ice like the trooper he is. After returning to the ice, he seemed to be playing with an extra step out there, blocking shots, following up his hits, and attempting to fight Adam Mair who cheap-shotted him and then skated away. Jeez! In the second period, Budaj gave up his lone goal-against of the night, and the Avs seemed to be a bit out-played, but managed to keep it a one goal game going into the third. About midway through the third, the ice started to tilt towards the Sabres goal, as Miller was peppered with shots from just about every angle imaginable. The one that happened to go in started on Jordan Leopold's stick, hit off a Sabres' d-man's skate, off another Sabres' helmet, and past a stunned Ryan Miller. Miller instantly darted to the ref calling for goalie interference, but the replayed showed that it was actually his own teammate who bumped into him during the goal sequence. Sorry Ryan! The teams skated to a 1-1 tie in regulation, and again in the overtime period, the ice seemed to be tilted towards Miller. To be honest, if he wasn't such a solid goaltender, I think they would've found a way to put one past him before time expired. However, a shootout was necessary to decide this one. Hejduk made a great move to put one past him, but it was completely over-shadowed by one of Wolski's signature triple-deke moves as he totally faked out Miller. Go Wolski-Goalski! After the original three shooters, the score was still tied. Next up for the Avs was Svatos, who didn't do much of anything with his shot. Luckily, Budaj came up big on the following save, and round five was on! Smyth was up, and buried a wrister below Miller's arm, and Budaj again came up with a big save for his third straight victory, and his second straight one-goal-against game. Did he see Raycroft's winning streak as a challenge? WHO CARES! This is the Budaj we need this year and he finally seems to be finding his groove.

Positives from the night have to start with Budaj's play. Also, this was the first game that the penalty kill didn't allow a goal! I'm really loving the consistency in the line-up, especially with the defensive pairings. The six defenders seem to be really getting a feel for each other on the ice and are learning to trust each other to be in the right place at the right time. No more Q line-juggling please! The fourth line was a bit invisible tonight which upsets me a bit since those are three of my favorite Avs, but what can you do. I expect a bounce-back game from all three of them come Tuesday night. I was sad to see Mr. McCormick sit tonight, but Davey Jones proved me wrong and was strong on the puck all night and definitely deserved to be out there. All in all, an extremely solid performace from the boys, and they proved to the league that they can play with the big boys. From the looks of things, this will be a VERY exciting season, and I can't wait!

Also, thanks to Shane over at AvsTalk for posting that great picture of Tucker.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Game #5 Recap

Another game, another win. You know, I could really get used to this. In what seemed like a blowout but became a nail-biter, the Avs came out on top for their second straight win. A 5-2 lead at the start of the third period quickly became 5-4, and very nearly a 5-5 tie, if not for Brendan Morrow punching the tying puck in the net with his glove. Once again, the Avs powerplay was effective, finishing 2 for 7 with powerplay tallies by both Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth. Overall, Raycroft seemed more comfortable in net than he did in Thursday's contest, though there were times where he was caught way out of position and paid for it by giving up "soft" goals. But as with last game, a win is a win, no matter how it happens.

Milan Hejduk is absolutely on fire this year, with five goals in five games thus far. He is dominant on the powerplay, and is making some great defensive plays as well when he needs to. After a couple years where he was nearly forgotten, though still putting up decent numbers, I think this is the year where he completely returns to form and joins the elite players of the league once again. Sakic and Stastny both have a goal and seven assists each so far in the first five games and show no signs of slowing down. Paul Stastny might be the most under-rated player in the NHL as he gets nearly no press coverage at all but is consistently one of the best players in the game. Wolski seems to be coming into his own as well this year, putting up a pair of assists in this game, both coming from his hard work in the offensive zone, which he had previously been criticized constantly for.

As much as I miss seeing Guite on the ice, the "punch" line looks like it's here to stay. With all three members, Cody Mac 1, Cody Mac 2, and Lappy getting in fights against the Stars, the name seems more than fitting. The three of them play extremely well together, and never stop working for that puck. This line could be just what the team needs for a fourth line to round out the lineup each night.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Game #5 Preview

Today, at 11am out here on the coast, the Avs travel to Dallas to take on the Stars. Both teams are off to a slow start this year so I expect both teams to come out flying from the start to try to take control. In the Avalanche net will be Andrew Raycroft, for the second straight game. He didn't exactly stand on his head to win the last game, but a win is a win and I guess Tony felt that it was enough to warrant a second straight start for the "backup". I will once again stay away from making a prediction this game due to my current record on the year, but we all know what I'm rooting for. Oh yes, and I'd love to see a Lappy/Avery or Tucker/Avery or even both fight before the end of the game. We all know how much they love each other!

Edit: And once again, no Guite. UGH!!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Game #4 Recap

To quote our own Mike Haynes, "HE DID IT! HE DID IT! MILAN HEJDUK WINS IT FOR THE AVS!". If you don't recall, he shouted those very words on March 18, 2007 when the Avs beat the Sharks in overtime to keep them in the playoff race. Now of course, this game wasn't nearly as important as that one, and Hejduk's goal wasn't in overtime, but it was still the game winner and came on the powerplay, one of the team's Achilles' heels from last season.

Overall, this was a very solid game played in all three zones by the Avs, though I really don't know how much can be said about the effort from the Flyers. In reality, they barely showed up to play.

Andrew Raycroft got his first start of the season, and while he didn't necessarily do anything incredible, he also didn't completely blow the game and got that ever-elusive first win of the season that Mr. Peter Budaj is still searching for. To be honest, I really think he just got lucky that they were matched against what seems to be a somewhat incompetent Flyers squad, because there were many times where he seemed out of position or just plain confused out there. The only goals he gave up were on a penalty shot (which 100% should not have been called), and on a 5-on-3 Mike Richards blast from the point that our own savior Patrick Roy would've had a hard time stopping.

A big positive we can take from this game is the powerplay, which finished 3 of 11 for a 27% completion rate. Not too shabby if you ask me, especially compared to last season. Also, two of the three goals were scored with Sakic down low, as opposed to his typical spot on the point, which I and other Avs fans have been begging to change. I hope Granato realizes this and it wasn't just a fluke, as I know on one of the goals, he started on the point but shifted down low on his own. See? Joe knows where he belongs! Also, Cody McCormick made another huge statement for the roster spot that he definitely deserves, by making a great play on the forecheck to strip the Flyers player from the puck, allowing David Jones to take over, and then darting to the net to receive the pass on a 2-on-1 and roof it over Biron for the goal. PLEASE keep the Cody Mac attack in the lineup, but also put my Ben back :(. Please?

Game Preview #4

Here we go again. Game four of the '08-'09 season comes against a pretty unfamiliar Eastern Conference opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers. As a team making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, expectations were very high for the upcoming season in Philadelphia. But some lackluster goaltending from Martin Biron (6.32 GAA, .800 save percentage) has led to an 0-2-1 record, and has no doubt put some fear in the hearts of Flyers fans thus far. As Avalanche fans, could this be our chance to finally see the first win of the season for our squad? I wouldn't get too ahead of ourselves, as sandwiched between our own Peter Budaj and the Flyers Martin Biron for the bottom three goalies in terms of GAA in the NHL is Calgary's Mikka Kiprusoff, the very goalie who beat the Avs on Tuesday night.

But don't fret yet, fellow Avalanche fans! We will be seeing a new face in net in our corner tonight. A man who goes by the nickname "Razor", Andrew Raycroft. Yes, THAT Andrew Raycroft. The same Andrew Raycroft who won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in '03-'04 with the Bruins, won a franchise record 37 games with the Maple Leafs in '06-'07, and posted a 2-9-5 record last season, leading to him being bought out at the end of the year. I agree that it was time to shake things up at the goaltending position, but is Raycroft really the answer? Only time will tell.

I will not be making a prediction on tonight's game, as I am 0-3 on the season, and don't want to further curse this team. Though I will say, I would love to see Jones and the bench and McCormick in the lineup tonight. Please, Tony?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Game #3 Recap

Another game, another loss. I don't know about you guys but I'm not exactly fond of this trend, and there's still 79 games left to play. For the third straight game, the Avs were tied going into the 3rd period, SCORED A GOAL in the third period, but managed to let in not one, but TWO goals in the 3rd and were never able to overcome that deficit in any of the three games.

As with last year, the Avs biggest problem seems to be the PK unit. Last year, the team finished 28th in the league on the penalty kill. As of right now, even though the season is only a week old, the Avalanche are ranked dead last in the league with a 58.3% Penalty Killing percentage. The Flames came into this game 0 for 13 on the powerplay on the season, yet somehow managed to overcome their previous shortcomings and burn Budaj for THREE powerplay goals against. I don't know what it is about this group that has so much trouble killing penalties, though I'm pretty sure that David Jones isn't the answer to this team's problems. He somehow racked up 2:17 of ice time on the penalty kill last night, but, at least to me, remained pretty much non-existent out there, as he has during even strength situations as well so far this season.

In my opinion, at least for now, David Jones should be riding the bench in favor of Cody McCormick as he had an excellent game out there last night, racking up an assist on the first goal of the game scored by his fellow Cody Mac, a +1 rating on the night, and a fight against Jarome Iginla, who was so scared of him that he wouldn't even remove his helmet with a visor. Talk about a baby! I think Cody made an extremely solid effort out there last night to try and convince Granato that he's worthy of a roster spot each game, and to be honest, I hope Granato rewards him with that.

As for the rest of the game, the Avs powerplay unit has been looking better than last year already, scoring two goals last night on six chances, leaving them with a 21.4% powerplay conversion percentage to start the year. Not too shabby, if you ask me. However, I still strongly believe that Sakic needs to be moved off of the point once and for all. No goalie is going to be scared of a Sakic slapshot from the point. But put him on his off-wing side by the net and goalie's league-wide will be shaking in their skates in fear of that deadly wrister that he's so famous for. If this was my team, my first powerplay unit would consist of Hejduk, Stastny, and Sakic up front, with Liles and Leopold manning the points. Someone please pass this along to Tony so maybe we can finally see this in action!

Tomorrow is Game #4 against our old friend Ossi Vaananen and the Philadelphia Flyers. I will have a quick pre-game write-up at some point before the game tomorrow so be on the lookout for that.

One more thing, Cody McLeod scored YET AGAIN (and received the Mike Haynes call of the year thus far, "THE CODY'S DID IT!"), putting him on pace for a whopping 55 goals on the year. MVP! MVP! MVP!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Game Preview #3

Quick write-up as the game is about to start. The Avs flat out HAVE to win tonight. Budaj's confidence will fall even lower with a third straight loss, and 0-3 is the exact opposite of the way a season should begin. Continuing with my homer streak, i will go with a 4-3 win for the Avs with goals by Sakic, Hejduk, Smyth, and Liles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Game Preview #2

Tonight, our boys travel to Edmonton for the first divisional matchup of this young season. Last year, we posted a 6-2 record against the Oil, with Budaj winning five of those six. If you ever needed to find the antonym for Kryptonite, you would find a picture of Tyler Arnason playing against the Oilers. The guy is an absolute beast whenever he steps on the ice against them. Let's hope that streak continues tonight as scoring from the third line is always an added bonus. I assume the line-up will be the same as the opener, as Tjarnqvist, McCormick, and Raycroft don't seem to be the answer to our game one problems.

I'll predict a 5-3 win for the Avs, with goals from Arnason, Wolski, Leopold, Liles, and Stastny.

Game #1 Recap

So the season, and home opener, has come and gone, and has left us with a loss. Starting the season 0-1 is never the way you hope for, but with 81 games remaining, an 81-1 record for a 98.7 winning percentage is still possible.. pretty good in my books. While there are many question marks on the back-end with the defensemen and Budaj giving up five goals (I'd only put the blame on him for two of them, however), we can take many positives from the team's offensive production from this game. Coach G wasn't lying when he said that he would bring an up-tempo offense to our team this season, as opposed to Q's dump and chase method. The team seemed to be buzzing in the offensive zone for a good portion of the night, and fired off 39 shots on goal, compared to only 20 for the Bruins. Looking at that stat only, you'd almost guarantee a victory, but alas we could not put the cat in the hat, as the coach on the NHL network commercials would say. It's always nice to see d-men getting involved offensively, and we seemed to have a great night on that front as Liles had two assists, Leopold had a goal, and Salei added an assist as well. All in all, we can take a lot of good and a lot of bad from this game. I think the team knows what they need to do and will be able to make the necessary adjustments to pull out the first win of the season tonight in Edmonton.

Also, Cody McLeod is currently on pace for 82 goals this season. Hart trophy anyone???

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Game Preview #1

I was going to write up a whole season preview today but got incredibly side-tracked. I will write something up tonight or tomorrow in those regards, but I wanted to make my game one prediction for tonight.

I see the Avs winning 4-2 with goals by Guite, Sakic, Wolski, and Arnason. GO AVS!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Frozen Fury XI

For the 10th time, my family and I ventured out to Vegas for Frozen Fury. If I had to rank them, I think I'd be forced to put this year's trip at the top of the list. On the second morning of our trip, we found about 15 Avs players playing Craps, and I just couldn't let that glorious opportunity to pass me by so I stepped up to the table wearing a Liles jersey and played for about an hour standing right between my birthday buddy JM-Liles and Svatos. Although I didn't win, it was by far the best gambling experience of my life. When I left, I got Johnny to sign my (his) jersey and take a picture with me. Afterwards, he asked my name, shook my hand, and said he had a great time playing Craps with me. *Swoon*.

Lappy informed me that they would be practicing at 3pm. Around 2:30, a group of us headed over to the arena but couldn't find a way in without getting caught/kicked out. Finally we just decided to take our lives into our own hands and attempt to venture into the arena unnoticed. After tip-toeing around for a good few minutes, who do we see? None other than the man that it's all about. Yes, Lappy! We talked to him for a bit before he went on the ice, and all of a sudden, Super Joe walks out from behind him. I felt bad for bothering him for the third time in a span of a few hours (he signed two separate jerseys on two separate occasions earlier in the day) but I just HAD to get a picture with him. It came out beautifully, and it now graces the background of not only my computer but my cell phone too. What could possibly make me happier than constantly looking at a picture of me standing with my hero? Nothing, that's what! Practice was cool (cool as in fun, but also as in F'N FREEZING!). As the players were heading off the ice, I got the rest of the team to sign my Liles jersey. I think the only player I didn't get to sign was Wolski.

Later that night, my dad played in Luc Robitaille's poker tournament, and I added a number of pictures with Avs players to my growing arsenal. What a great day.

The next day was the game, and as usual, the Kings fans pretend that the game is the equivalent of a Stanley Cup Finals Game 7. And on that note, the Kings lost, just as if it were a game with any sort of relevance or meaning. The game was one of the most exciting Frozen Fury games ever, as there were about eight fights, three ejections, and a shootout winner by Hensick to decide it all.

I won't bother captioning these because I assume that if you're reading this blog, you'll be able to figure out who's who, so here are my pictures from the trip:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008



Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008/2009 NHL Schedule!

The entire schedule for the upcoming 08/09 NHL season was released early this morning. The format for the schedule has been changed a bit this year, compared to how it has been since the lockout. Since the lockout, each team has played the other teams in their division EIGHT times each, the non-divisional teams in their conference four times each, one eastern division at home, and one eastern division on the road, leaving an entire division in the Eastern conference unplayed each season. This year, however, they have cut the divisional games down to six per team, while keeping the non-divisional conference games at four games per team. Regarding the Eastern conference, the Avs will get the chance to play against each of the 15 teams at least once this year (nine at home, nine on the road), and will play three of the Eastern teams twice (Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay). I love this change to the schedule and I am glad that I'll be able to see my team play at least once against all 29 other teams.

For the Avs, the season opener is miraculously not against the Stars this year. It's actually against an Eastern team, the Boston Bruins, which should be exciting for the fans since the Bruins haven't played at The Can since December 2005, and seem to be putting together a good team back in my other favorite sports city in the country.

As an Avs fan living in LA, I get to see them twice a year against the Kings, and twice a year against the Ducks. For some reason, both of last season's games against the Kings fell in December, meaning I didn't get to see the team after that and I wasn't happy. The NHL must really have something against me, because this year, the Avs are in LA in October and November, leaving five months of the season after that with no games out here for me. Granted, the November game is a day before my birthday, so a win would mean a whole hell of a lot, but I'm still not pleased with the schedule again. You can't win them all, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

McCormick Signs!!!!!

And with the signing of Cody McCormick (Cody1), we have our McCody's back in place and I, for one, am extremely excited. Though, I have a feeling that only McLeod will make the team at the start of the season. I've always been a fan of Cody1 since he's been with the organization as I get to see him every pre-season at Frozen Fury, but it seems that McLeod fell more into the liking of the coaches last season. McLeod wasn't scratched from a game since being recalled in December, while McCormick was a healthy scratch a number of times. They both have the same offensive 'capabilities' with McLeod maybe getting the slight edge for his stick-handling, but McLeod also became a lot more solid in the defensive zone as the season went on, even being used in PK situations.

In other Avs signing news, the Avs have brought back Brian Willsie. This is our first off-season signing that I am completely baffled by. Nothing against Willsie, but if he steals a roster spot from one of our 3rd/4th liners or one of the up-and-coming guys like Hensick or Jones, I will not be a happy Adam. Keep him in Lake Erie, please. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

McLeod Signs!

That's right folks, our favorite redhead will be back in burgundy and blue next season. Today, Cody Mcleod, or Cody2 as I like to call him since McCormick (Cody1) was around first, re-signed with our wonderful club for one year, at a price of $522,500. For those of you readers who actually know me, you already know of my total man-crush for Cody2. I love everything this man brings to the ice each and every night. I was at the first game that he suited up for warm-ups for our team back in December at Staples Center, though he didn't actually crack the until the following game. Once seeing his style of play, I immediately fell in love. Yes, he does take stupid penalties at times, but the rest of his excellent play allows me to see right past that. He is one of those guys that gives 110% every single shift, no matter what the score. He even became a decent penalty killer by the end of the year, and was used in key defensive-shutdown situations late in games. I can't wait to see the McLeod-Guite-Lappy line back in full force this season.

In other signing news, the Avs signed six other predictably AHL caliber players today, forwards Philippe Dupuis and Nathan Smith, defensemen Darcy Campbell and Aaron MacKenzie, and goaltenders Jason Bacashihua and Tyler Weiman. I don't really expect any of these players, except for possibly Weiman, to crack the Avs lineup this season, but these all seem to be solid additions/re-signings for our AHL affiliate in Cleveland. Dupuis and Campbell came over from Columbus in the Rycroft trade last season. Nathan Smith put up pretty good numbers for the Penguins AHL club, but didn't do much when brought up to Pittsburgh for 13 games. I've never heard of Aaron MacKenzie before today, but he's a DU boy so I like him already. Most of you should know Weiman and Bacashihua by now as Weiman has been with the club for a few years now, and Bacashihua spent most of last season with the Monsters as well, though neither really put up spectacular numbers. I like Weiman though, on a personal level. The last two years at Frozen Fury in Vegas, he's hung around the fans after leaving the ice, talking to whoever had interest in him and giving away his sticks to some lucky fans. I hope for nothing but success for the guy in the future, and hopefully it will be with our team!

This past weekend, the Avs held their annual Development camp in Centennial, with a record 29 players in attendance. I obviously wasn't there, but spectators have been commenting on how great David Jones has looked out there. Other players receiving a bit of fan-recognition have been T.J. Hensick, Nigel Williams, Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. Jones and Hensick seem to be locks to make the team this year, while I expect Williams and Shattenkirk to still need a year or two of grooming in the minors. Stewart seems to be a bubble player right now. Some people have been commenting on how great he looks out there, while others seem to feel the exact opposite. He's got size and talent, we know that, he's just got to learn to put them together properly for the NHL's style of play. I also have a special bond with him because we are friends on facebook, aka BFF!

No news on Sakic yet, Forsberg apparently won't be ready 'til Christmas, if he'll ever be ready at all, and the coaching staff is now complete with former NHL-er Dave Barr filling TG's assistant coaching vacancy behind the bench.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Svatos Arbitration

Marek Svatos has filed for arbitration, which, if i'm correct, means that he isn't happy with the contract that FG has offered him. I'm guessing this is around $2M a year, when he feels like he's worth closer to $3M. Personally, I wouldn't be opposed to a $3M salary for Svatty as I feel he's a huge part of this team's offense when he stays healthy. Hopefully this situation is resolved quickly and he can have his first injury-free year as an Av and we can get a 35+ goal season out of him!

Friday, July 4, 2008

2008 Free Agency, Day Three

Today, was a quiet day for the Avs with only one seemingly-minor signing. The Avs picked up defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist, who played last year in Sweden, to a one-year deal. It seems to be just a depth signing, perhaps because the coaches feel Cumiskey could benefit from one more year with the Monsters. I haven't seen the money spent on this contract yet, but I assume it's not much above the league minimum, so I am okay with this signing for now. He doesn't seem to be the best defenseman in the world as he wasn't even signed to an NHL organization last year, but hopefully he will surprise us with a few good games once the injury-bug hits again, because you know it's coming! I would say that I should bite my tongue, but unfortunately, that won't keep it from getting us :(.

Edit: The contract is 1yr/$750k.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2008 Free Agency, Day Two

No outside signings to report as of yet, but the Avalanche have just announced the re-signing of Wojtek Wolski to a two-year contract for an as-of-yet undisclosed amount of money, though I assume it will fall in the $2.5M-3.5M per year range. I am very excited to have him back, and I feel that this year will finally be the breakout year that us Avs fans have been longing for after hearing of his 128 points in 57 games season for the Brampton Battalion in '05-'06. Coach Q seemed to have it out for him, but I feel that Granato's style of play will allow him to fully come into his own in the NHL and take the league by surprise. I wouldn't be surprised to see a 75pt season from him this year.

Edit: The contract is 2yr/$5.6M, so at $2.8M per year, my estimate was pretty dead-on.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 Free Agency, Day One

The big day has come and gone. So far, the Avs have signed three new players, and have lost four. I will start with the new guys:

Per Ledin
-1yr/undisclosed amount
-Played nearly his whole career in his native Sweden, most recently for HV71 (yes, that is a team name), a team I am somewhat familiar with from hockey video games.
-It doesn't seem that much is known about him, much like the Hlinka signing last year, but based on his stats and the minimal amount of information I could dig up on him, I think a decent comparison to an NHL player would be Darcy Tucker, a comparison I made to my father earlier this morning. His job is to piss people off as the 'agitator', but he also has a nice scoring touch it seems.
-I assume the contract will not be worth much, so this is a small risk/big reward possibility that I fully support.

Andrew Raycroft
-Has had a very up and down career.
-Won rookie of the year in 03-04 with the Bruins.
-Great year in Toronto in 06-07. Horrible year in Toronto in 07-08 (in a backup role).
-Like the Ledin signing, it's a small contract so there's not too much risk involved. I think this is a good signing because it will bring some competition into training camp for the goalie position which will hopefully cause Budaj to step up his game a bit. In a perfect world, Raycroft will develop into a solid backup goalie and a nice compliment to Budaj on his nights off.

Darcy Tucker
-Our biggest/most well-known signing of the day.
-The type of player that you love to play with, but hate to play against.
-Similar style of play to Lappy, except he possesses more of a scoring touch.
-Per Ledin = Darcy Tucker Jr. You heard it here first, folks!
-I love this signing. He's the kind of guy that you love to have on your team because he gives his all on every single shift. We will be a better team this season because of his presence.

Here are the guys we lost to free-agency today:

As many have speculated recently, Andrew Brunette has returned to the Wild, with a contract of 3yr/$7M. I cannot even begin to express my disgust with the fact that we let him walk and sign with a division rival for such a small amount. Bruno has been our most consistent player over the last three years on our roster and is criminally under-rated by nearly the entire league. I would've been more than content to keep him at $4M a season, so seeing him sign elsewhere (especially with rival Minnesota) for less than $2.5M per year broke my heart. I will never understand FG's reasoning behind this and may not ever forgive him for this. In my eyes, this is the worst decision that the franchise has ever made.
Thanks for the memories Bruno. You will be missed more than you know.
It is hard for me to pick a favorite Brunette moment from the last three years. His series clinching goal against the Stars in the first round of the playoffs three years ago would probably be my favorite, but close behind is complete undressing of Luongo on a goal this past season (you all know which one I'm talking about).

It seems I am one of the few Kurt Sauer fans out there these days, so I am sad to see him go. However, I am more than satisfied with him going to Phoenix because I somewhat follow the Coyotes and don't completely despise them, as I do with Bruno's new/old team. Sauer got a contract of 4yr/$7M, and I couldn't be happier for the guy. Do I think he's worth that much? Not really, but I really hope he gets the ice-time he deserves down in the desert and I will be cheering for him to succeed on each and every shift. He is one of the nicest guys I've ever met in the hockey world and he will be missed in Denver. Not that he will ever read this, but thank you Kurt for telling me when practice was at Frozen Fury last year!
My favorite Sauer moment other than getting the chance to talk to him a bit this past fall at Frozen Fury would have to be his tip-in goal from Sakic in game one of the playoffs this year against the Wild. He was the last person on our roster that I would expect that from, but he came through when it counted.

In one of the more ludicrous contracts signed today, Jeff Finger has signed with Toronto for 4yr/$14M. It seemed like he was very well-loved in the Avalanche community, and as much as I love the guy, I cannot justify a team spending that much money on him and I'm sure most of you are in the same boat as I am on this one. He played very well for us last year, a lot better than most of us could've expected. Our most physical d-man and also our defensive leader in goals last year was sure to demand more than his $475k salary of last year on the open market, but I never thought it would end up being that much. The organization was in a tough spot with him. FG seemed to genuinely be interested in bringing him back, but he would've been the 7th d-man on our roster and would see significantly less ice-time than if he were to sign as a top-six guy somewhere else. I'm glad to see him go somewhere where he'll get the playing time he deserves. Although they overpaid for him, they will get a solid game on both ends of the ice each and every night from Jeff and a lot of Avs fans will be bittersweet about the fact that he's no longer ours.
Besides all the big hits Jeff threw for us the last couple years, my favorite moment of his came at Frozen Fury a number of years ago when he fought Sean Avery and killed him, for lack of a better term. From that day forward, I was always rooting for him to make the roster and I'm glad I got to see him play for us, even though it didn't last very long

The Avs community will be torn on this one as Jose Theodore has signed with the Capitals for 2yr/$9M. As an Avs fan, you either loved or hated Theo. To be honest, I absolutely HATED the trade originally as I loved Abby and Theo seemed to have lost his trophy-winning form by that point. But somehow, this season he started to regain his previous form as the season went on, and I was soon cheering for him every night. Theo haters, let's face it.. he was the reason we won that series against Minnesota back in April. Yes, SuperJoe was Mr. Clutch as usual, yes Bruno had some key goals, yes Footer and Sauer shut down Gaborik, but the backbone to our wins was Mr. Jose Theodore. That said, he completely fell apart once again in the Detroit series and we once again couldn't win a second-round game with him in net. I would've been fine with him coming back for around $3M/yr, but I would've been very disappointed in FG if he gave him the $4.5M/yr that Washington did. Good luck in Washington Theo. Thanks for one round of good games!
As far a favorite Theo moment, just look at how he shut down the Wild in the first round of the playoffs this year. He seemed to be back in Vezina form and the Avs nation was rallying around him like never before, only to see him revert to the Theo we expected in the next round.

Final Day One Thoughts:
There were seven Avs-related moves today, involving Ledin, Raycroft, Tucker, Brunette, Sauer, Finger, and Theodore. Based on contracts and the like, I will give FG a plus/minus for each player gained or lost:


While I would've loved having Sauer and Finger back in the mix, FG did the right thing by letting them go somewhere where they would earn more money and be able to play more so I respect his decision on those two. Overall, FG earned a +5 on day one of 2008 free agency. Looks like maybe we should be adding FG to the roster with that plus/minus rating from just one game (day), eh?

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to ex-Av Ossi Vaananen as he is back in the NHL playing for the Flyers. Hopefully he gets some solid ice-time there and can stay in our league for many years to come.

Here is a picture of me and Vaany at Frozen Fury '06:

Good luck, Ossi!

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Shape Of Things To Come

In less than two short hours (here on the west coast at least), it will be July 1st, the start of the NHL's free agency period. Depending on how your team ended last season and their current roster/contract situation, this can be a highly anticipated or incredibly dreaded day in the life of a hockey fan. As a life-long Avs fan, I don't know if I can face this season's 'special day' with excitement or total and complete dread.

As of about an hour ago, based on east-coast time, Joe Sakic is no longer "ours". Now, fellow Avs fans, let that thought sink in for a bit. How absolutely terrifying is that thought? I have been a fan of the Nordiques/Avalanche since 1992, and he has never been this close to not belonging to us, unless you count that near-debacle in '97 where the Rangers did their best to court our beloved leader, captain, and, let's face it, our entire franchise to the east coast. Luckily, Joe has remained ours for the next ten years since then, but now, where does he stand with us? At this point, he still remains undecided as to whether or not he will return to the NHL and our team this fall, and who knows when we will get a decision from him. I, as I'm sure all of you were as well, was hoping that he would announce his return, or in the end-of-the-world situation, his decision to "r-word" (yes, I refuse to use that word when talking about Joe until we get an official statement from him).

Now what happens if he doesn't return? As much as I love each and every member of this team, we will lose almost everything in Joe Sakic. Well, maybe I'm over-exaggerating a bit. Perhaps, it will not be nearly as catastrophic as I and every other Avs fan will make it seem. But in my mind and heart, nothing could be worse. The name Joe Sakic is synonymous with the entire Colorado Avalanche franchise and image. If he decides that hanging 'em up is the best decision for him and his family, I will fully respect it as there is no one on this planet that I respect more. But I can't promise that I won't cry for days, weeks, months, or years if we no longer have #19 leading the way. Honestly, a little (but probably closer to ginormous) piece of me will die inside and I might not be able to ever fully recover from this devastation.

But hey, he could still be back! :)

As far as I can tell, Andrew Brunette, Jeff Finger, Kurt Sauer, and Jose Theodore will not be returning next season. I would love to see Finger back, but I don't know how much ice-time he would see as the 7th d-man on our roster, though with Leopold's injury problem, he could potentially play nearly the entire season! If we don't have room for Finger, we definitely don't have room for Sauer, which I am not too happy about either. I feel he was a bit under-rated by our coaching staff and fans, but I guess there's no place for him left in our organization. Hopefully he can get a fresh start somewhere and make a fool out of everyone in Denver who constantly bad-mouthed him. I am somewhat indifferent about the Theodore situation. I would like to see him back, but not at the inflated price that he's asking for. If we could get him back for the $3mil a year that we reportedly offered him, I would have no problem bringing him back for next season and beyond. The Andrew Brunette situation is beyond my comprehension. I cannot understand what would keep FG from bringing him back. He has arguably been our most consistent player over the last three seasons, and is criminally under-rated by the rest of the league. The way I see it, esepecially with the impending doom from Joe's decision, Bruno should be re-signed at all costs. Whatever he asked for, we should give him. Rumors are he will be returning to the Wild which would break my heart, because I refuse to root for that team and really wanted to follow him to his next destination if he left us as I did with Brett McLean and the Panthers last year.

Tomorrow should be a very interesting day for our organization. I don't see us signing any d-men as we already have a pretty solid squad set up for the season, but a couple minor forward signings wouldn't surprise me at all. Personally, I wouldn't mind bringing in a veteran forward or two (as we did with Brunette a few years back), because I am not yet sold on the abilities of T.J. Hensick or David Jones yet. I assume a goalie will be signed as well. I would love to see someone like Ty Conklin come in to back up Budaj.

Free agent signings can begin at 9am PST tomorrow morning, and I will undoubtedly be glued to my television with the NHL network on, and constantly refreshing every hockey website I know of to stay on top of the latest moves. Expect updates with every Avs related signing tomorrow.

The Big Three.

Last week, Francois Giguere, or FG as he's lovingly (or despisingly) referred to by the Avalanche faithful, made his first signing of the off-season. And to be honest, this was the last person of our free-agents whom I expected to receive a contract extension. Yes, Scott Parker, The Sheriff, will be lacing 'em up for another year as part of the Colorado Avalanche. For the most part, this signing seemed to be met with a lot of disdain from Avs fans. Most cannot understand why we would spend the money and a roster spot on a guy who rarely dresses for games, and when he does, plays less than five minutes per contest. I, for one, do not mind this signing in the least. Scott obviously never lived up to his original potential, as he was drafted 20th overall in 1998. But the stats do not lie. Since we re-acquired him from San Jose at the 2007 trade deadline, we have a record of 25-6-4 when he is in the lineup. Even though he doesn't do much on the ice, I suppose FG found that stat too appealing to overlook.

Last night, TSN reported two signings by the Avs which were confirmed today on the Avs website. Adam Foote for 2yrs/$6mil, and John-Michael Liles for 4yrs/$16mil. I honestly couldn't be happier by these signings. Along with everyone else in Avalanche nation, I am a huge fan of Footer and feel he should end his career with the organization he was so successful with, so I am not very surprised with him returning to us. On the other hand, I am absolutely shocked that we retained JM Liles. All the rumors claimed he was all but gone, and I really didn't see FG shelling out the money to keep both him and Footer around. With four free-agent defensemen, including two big-name guys, I figured that FG would sign one of the top two guys (either Foote or Liles), and one of the others (Finger or Sauer). But FG proved that he has a few tricks up his sleeve and shocked us all by signing both, which unfortunately will most likely mean that Finger and Sauer will be leaving us as we now have six defensemen plus Kyle Cumiskey waiting in the wings.

This past week, the Avs gave offer sheets to four players who were restricted free-agents; Cody McCormick, Cody McLeod, Marek Svatos, and Wojtek Wolski. I am very excited to most likely have all four of these guys back with us next year, and I assume that the contracts will be hammered out within the next few days.

The Beginning

Now, I assume that if you are reading this blog, you consider yourself a fan of the greatest hockey organization EVER! No, I am not talking about the Red Wings (I don't know if I'll be able to forgive myself for even posting that dreadful name on this blog), the Canadiens, or the Oilers. I, of course, am talking about the one, the only, COLORADO AVALANCHE!

A bit of a background on how a Los Angeles boy raised to be a Kings fan came to love a team originally located 3,000+ miles away. As a youngster, I spent most of my days playing video games. In 1992, I got NHL '93 for Sega Genesis. I started off playing as the Kings, but could never win with them (a trend that has become a reality in the real world). After a number of losses, I decided it was time to try my luck with another team. At the ripe old age of six, it was hard for me to be familiar with many teams outside of the Kings division because most of the games I attended were against divisional opponents, and of course, I hated all of those teams as much as a six-year- old could hate something that wasn't a green vegetable or the latest Disney cartoon villain. As I scrolled through the NHL teams, I came across a team name that was so incredibly cool that I could barely figure out how to pronounce it! Little did I know as I spent what seemed like an eternity how to even say the team name, that I would devote the next 16 years of my life and every single day for the rest of my life to this team with a location 3,000 miles away and a name that most six-year-olds wouldn't even attempt to pronounce, let alone become a die-hard fan of. The Quebec Nordiques. After choosing to play as this super-cool team, I started winning nearly every game I played. Sakic instantly became my favorite player as I scored the most goals with him (go figure), and I even had a specialty move with Mats Sundin that I labeled the "Sundin Special".

Sixteen years, two Stanley Cup Championships, and millions upon millions of memories later, I am so thankful for the fact that I chose the Nordiques/Avs to be "mine". There is nothing in the world that makes me happier than seeing the Avs on the ice, win or lose, and that will never, ever change.