Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thank you, Joe.

Tonight is the night I have been dreading for 17 years now; the night that Joe Sakic is officially retired from the game of hockey as his glorious #19 is raised to the rafters of Pepsi Center. To be honest, I don't even know how to explain the rush of all kinds of emotions that I am feeling at this moment. I will be at Pepsi Center for the ceremony and game tonight, and will do my best to write up a more meaningful entry about Joe and all he has done for myself and the game of hockey very soon.

The only good thing about tonight is that hockey season is upon is!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Avalanche Blogger Roundtable, Day 3

Welcome everyone to day three of the Avalanche Blogger Roundtable, hosted by our good friends over at Mile High Hockey. Visit their site to view the other questions answered by my fabulous fellow Avs bloggers and get up to date on all you'll need to know for the upcoming season. Today's questions have to do with the new (Super?) Joe with the very similar last name to our dear Mr. Sakic, and what should be expected from him this upcoming season.

Also, please head over to Avaholics Anonymous to check out more discussion on Coach Sacco.

If you could make one suggestion to Joe Sacco for his first season behind the bench in the Show, what would it be?

If I could make one suggestion to Coach Sacco for his first season coaching the Avalanche, it would be to continue the youth movement that he so very successfully began last season in Lake Erie. There is an abundance of young talent who he has already started the development process on and many more new-comers who he can groom to fit the style of play he envisions the team using. He also now has two young, top-notch centers in Stastny and Duchene who can serve as building blocks for the next 10+ years of success for this franchise, similar to the days in Quebec with young Sakic and Forsberg. Also, although many "experts" are completely writing off our Avs as the worst in the West, at the very least, Sacco needs to make sure our team is competitive in each and every game. There were far too many instances last year where you could just tell the team didn't care once they had a 1-0 lead, and quickly squandered it away, resulting in the franchise's worst season since moving to Colorado. Make this team tough to play against every game, and success will find it's way in.
-Me (An Avalanche Of Thoughts)

Don't let up. Sacco has a young team without an identity that he will have to mold in the way he wants. However, he cannot let up from what he wants to do. He's a guy that always preaches hard work and 100% effort and if or when the guys like Wolski, Tucker, Svatos, etc stop working, can he crack the whip to them? Can he get them to work in a way neither Quenneville nor Granato could? If he does that, regardless of the record, he'll be a winner.
-Aaron (Hockey Buzz)

Have a fucking game plan. We never really knew what sort of team Tony Granato was aiming for. I think it was supposed to be uptempo, but I'm not sure anyone got that memo (including the former GM, who loaded up on slow-footed grinders). This team needs an identity - a readily apparent style.
-DDC (Mile High Hockey)

What he said. Find an identity and actually build a team to fit that mold. Or go the other way and find a system that works for the pieces that you have and THEN LET THEM PLAY THAT STYLE. Why have a Ryan Smith on the team if he's gonna camp out behind the net? Why field an uptempo defense when you have nobody on the wing who can win puck battles and support the rush?
-Mike (Mile High Hockey)

Please, please, for the love of God Joe, let the forwards develop chemistry and give them a system to play in. Both Granato and Quenneville were schizophrenic about their lines and I firmly believe it really hampered our offensive chemistry. Quenneville refused to play any sort of offense expect what started behind the goal, and Granato didn't even HAVE a system. What this young team needs is stable lines and clear roles within an adaptable system. Wolski is begging you with these eyes:

And don't play Svatos on a checking line, seriously. Can we at least give him a chance to succeed?
-Matt (Mile High Mayhem)

My suggestion for Sacco - Don't let the soft style of Granato linger and don't let your green status allow players to walk all over you. This team has a lot of challenges up ahead and only a tough as nails coach that commands respect is going to get them there.
-Grant (Hockeyism)

The thing that I felt has been missing with this team for a few seasons now is an identity for giving an honest effort every single night. Sure the Captain's gone, and the team is young, and insert more excuses here if you'd like, but I'm hoping Joe Sacco can create an identity for this team so they're known for that. I'm just hoping that the opposition and the fan base of the Avs will know what they're getting every night. It's just been tough to watch on television and show up and never know what you'll get each night. A hard-nosed honest effort night in and night out is always a pleasure to watch, win or lose. I hope Sacco can get this out of his new team so it's always worth the time we take to watch the games. My suggestion: create that identity.
-Jay (The Avs Hockey Podcast)

And there you have it, folks. Many honest answers on what we think Coach Sacco will need to do to succeed in his first year behind the bench. Thanks again to the guys at Mile High Hockey for putting this whole thing together. Enjoy the season!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Preview

I'm headint to the beach now for a little pre-draft fun in the sun, but I think I speak for most of Avalanche nation with this message to Sherman..

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't screw up this Duchene pick.

More to come later..

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So long, Lappy

According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, Lappy is as good as gone to us as Avs fans. The article, found here, states that the Avs management and Lappy's agent are far too far apart on agreeing to terms on a new deal and are unlikely to find a common ground before he is set to become a free agent on July 1st. If this is all true, this is a sad, sad day for the Colorado Avalanche organization and it's fans. Lappy was the heart and soul of this franchise for his entire tenure with the team, and something like that will not be easy to replace. Fans will remember him not only for his commitment and dedication to the game on the ice, but also for his love for the community of Denver as well. We will miss you Lappy and wish you all the best in the future. Since we have no Cup dreams for years to come, go out and win one on your own and make us proud.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Season reflections.

Today marks the one week anniversary of the end of the most unbearable, miserable, downright difficult to watch season in Colorado Avalanche history (years in Quebec not withstanding). I was lucky enough (or unlucky, based on the performances I witnessed) to attend the final three home games of the season at good ol' Pepsi Center. The Avs got two of a possible six points in those three games, but managed to be shutout in the final two. In all, I was able to be at seven regular season games, and one pre-season game, with the Avs record being 2-4-2 overall (one of the wins, being pre-season, and the only other win coming at Staples Center here in LA). Should I ever return to Pepsi Center after seeing the team get a total of two points in the six games I attended? I'd like to say that I wouldn't, but I don't know what could really keep me away from there in the future.

On the Avs message board, there was a thread where people listed the "Avs Awards" for the 2008-2009 season. Here's a quick rundown of my picks..

Best forward: Milan Hejduk, Ryan Smyth
For the most part, these two came to play every night, which is more than can be said for a good part of the roster this season. If the whole team had stayed healthy, I'm sure these two would've been able to put up more than a team-leading 59 pts a piece this season. The bright spot for these two this season was scoring their 300th career goals on the same night back in January.
Best D-man: John-Michael Liles
Though we saw 13 different players suit up on the blue-line this season, I feel Liles was the most consistent D-man the Avs had during the season. In the past, he was known more for his offense than his defensive play, but he really picked it up this season and was a physical presence in the corners and behind the net, which was never one of his strong suits. While improving defensively, he also managed to bring his point total up to 39 from 32 last season, playing in seven less games in the process (including six more goals).
Best goalie: Peter Budaj
This is a tough one, as I don't feel either goalie had a great season. This was Peter's year, once again, to prove himself as the #1 goalie on the Avs, but he just couldn't find the consistency in his game to secure that spot for himself. As with the past couple years under Quenneville's reign, the two goalies were interchanged on a near game-by-game basis, which must make it really tough on a goalie's confidence and psyche to keep their play at a high level night in, night out. Though he had some extremely rough streaks during the season, Budaj also had some flashes of brilliance that we've seen from him in the past, including a hot streak to end the season giving up just five goals in his last four games (including three overtime periods). While I don't feel that he is the long-term answer for the team in net, I'd like to see him back on the roster next year behind a veteran that the team brings in. When he's on his game, he's nearly unbeatable.
Biggest surprise: Cody McLeod
What a season by Cody McLeod! Dubbed by some as a life-long AHL'er, he came out this year and had an absolutely spectacular season for someone known more for his big hits than his knack for finding the back of the net. Before the season, who would've thought that Cody would find himself in third place in goals scored on the Avs? Though injuries depleted the rest of the team's top-line forwards, there's no denying that Cody had one hell of a season scoring 15 goals and five assists (up from 4g5a last season), while dropping the mitts 10 times this season. He is currently un-signed, and I think it would be a Bruno-esque blunder to not bring him back next season.
Biggest disappointment: Darcy Tucker
What really needs to be said about this guy? He was bought out by Toronto, and then signed by the Avs to a 2yr/$4.5mil contract. For that kind of money, you expect to get someone who cares about the team and attempts to help the team on the ice. But not this guy. For seven straight years, he put up a more than respectable average of 43 pts per season, which is on the top end of the list of the mucker-and-grinder type player that Darcy is known as. So after scoring a big contract this season, you would think he would come out with the fire and passion that he was known for during his time with the Leafs, right? Not this guy. Darcy put up a miserable eight goals and eight assists this season, and at times couldn't even stand up on his own two skates. He is worth about half of the contract, if that, that Giguere gave him last summer, and one can only hope that he will become the first player in NHL history to be bought out in two straight seasons, as he is not needed on this team going forward.
Best leader: Ian Lapperiere
Once again, what really needs to be said about our beloved Lappy? Heart, determination, passion, and any synonym of those words could be used to describe him. He's one of the few in the entire NHL who never takes a shift off and sacrifices his body, no matter what the situation or cost. He is also currently un-signed, and losing him this season would be far worse than what happened when the team let Bruno walk to a division rival last summer. Lappy is the kind of player that nearly every team in the NHL would be interested in signing, and it would be absolutely horrific to see him finish out his career anywhere else.
Best rookie: Chris Stewart
Prior to this season, a lot of bad things have been said about Chris since he had been drafted 18th overall by the Avs in 2006. He was supposedly known for laziness on the ice and a lack of work ethic and drive to improve off the ice, and thankfully he proved everyone wrong this year as being the complete opposite of that after being called up in December. He totalled 11 goals and eight assists in his first year in the NHL, and had eight fights to go with those production numbers. I see a very bright future for Chris. If not a top-six forward, he would definitely make a great third-line right wing who not only has the skills to put the puck in the net, but has a very physical aspect to his game as well.
Best Av for 08-09: Cody McLeod
This is a tough one, as I feel that anyone listed above (save for Budaj and Tucker) could be the winner of this award. In the end, I have to go with Cody McLeod, as no one expected the kind of play that he gave the team this season. Congrats Cody, I've been calling you the MVP since day one, and you really lived up to all the hype and praise I had given you early this season.

What's next, you ask? Who knows. Last Monday, Francois Giguere was "relieved of his duties" by former GM Pierre Lacroix. This is the first step in what might be a long re-building process over the next few years, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Who will succeed Giguere is unknown at the moment, but he will need to do a lot to bring this team back from the trenches. The team holds the third overall pick in the upcoming 2009 entry draft, and is most likely looking at C Matt Duchene, who grew up following the Avs. Also, waiting in the wings is Ryan Stoa, who is projected to make the roster as well this coming season. On a third happy note, we have most likely seen the last of Tyler Arnason in the burgandy and blue. REJOICE!!!

To those of you Avs fans who struggled to watch but stood by the team through all 82 games of this dismal season, I salute you, as this is the type of season that thins out the bandwagoners from the tried and true fans. As far as I see it, things can only go up from here, as in all honesty they can't get much worse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sakic's return?

Today, our own Super Joe spoke with the media about his possible return this season. While he didn't necessarily say one way or another if it's going to happen, he certainly left the door open and said that he's getting better every day.

Tonight, the Avs will see yet another defenseman make his NHL debut. Ray Macias will be in the lineup tonight for the injured Brett Clark. I will be rooting like crazy for Ray, as he is from Long Beach, CA, which pretty much makes him a hometown boy for me ('hometown' being in the vicinity of Los Angeles). Make California proud, Ray

Friday, March 27, 2009

TJ Galiardi!

I want to offer a huge congratulations to TJ Galiardi for scoring his first ever NHL goal tonight on a beautiful shot on an even better feed from Lappy. Keep it up TJ!

Stoa signing

The Avs have signed Minnesota Golden Gophers captain, Ryan Stoa, to an entry-level NHL deal. I'm not sure if this means we'll see him this year since the games are seemingly meaningless at this point, or if they'll ship him off to the Monsters to see how he fits in there. Either way, welcome to the big leagues Ryan!

Also, Monsters defensemen Wes O'Neill, has been called up to the Avs and will make his NHL debut tonight, filling in for the injured Ruslan Salei. Good luck, Wes.

Edit, Dater is reporting that he will not join the Avs this season, but will be with the team at training camp this fall, and is expected to make the team as a second or third line center. Goodbye Arnason, Hellooooooooooo Nurse (Stoa)!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A few quick hits..

-Stastny is out 2-4 weeks (read: the rest of the season) with a broken bone in his foot, coming off a shot block. Both of his extended injuries this year have resulted from blocking shots, and as soon as each one happened I turned to my dad and exclaimed "great, he's hurt again", and sure enough, he's been out of the game for weeks or more after both injuries. To fill the void in his absence, the team has re-called Matt Hendricks from the Monsters. I see a lot of potential in him and while I hate seeing Stazz injured, I'd like to see Hendy get the chance to show what he can do now that the season is officially "lost".

-Milan Hejduk, the man who once claimed that he wished to retire after his contract ends following the 2009-2010 season, has now said that he wants to stay with the team for a few more years. FG, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

-TG has seemingly ripped into the Baron's play of recently. Sure his numbers haven't been what they were earlier in the year, but look at the talent (or lack there of) around him. With a fully healthy team and line-mates, Wolski should thrive again at center.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Roy behind the Avs bench?

Brian Thompson, Colorado Avalanhhe Examiner, linked me to this article, which a lot of you may (should) be interested in. Could we really see Patrick back in Denver? Fingers crossed.

Good news? Yea right.

I know Avs fans, we are not very used to hearing good news these days, but fear not! My captain and yours, Joe Sakic, has returned to practice with the team. Though he wore a non-contact jersey, he was still out there on the ice with the rest of the squad. If all goes according to plan, he will be back for the end of the season (when I'll be in Denver!).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cameron Gaunce interview

Once again, Ray from SchoolYourPool has notified me of an interview they've conducted with one of the Avs top prospects, this time being Cameron Gaunce. Big things are expected from him in the Avs future so read up now. You'll thank me later when you're all wearing his jersey in a few years!

Thanks again, Ray.

Also, there will be no talk of Thursday's "game" against the Oilers. If the Avs didn't make an effort on the ice, I won't make an effort to write about their lack of effort (confusing, I know).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Game #72 Preview

As the season is winding down, the injuries continue to pile-up. Since I last wrote, the Avs have lost three more defensemen (Foote, Salei, Tjarnqvist) and arguably the team's best player, Paul Stastny, to a foot injury due to another shotblock. Because of this, a number of the young prospects have been called up from Lake Erie to see what they can do in the team's time of need. Last game against the Wild, two defenders made their NHL debuts and were fairly impressive. Michael Vernace and Derek Peltier were paired together nearly the whole game and were pretty solid defensively in their own end, and even jumped up into the offensive rush on a few occasions, which is always a good thing to see when you have a young guy confident enough in his abilities to get back defensively if need be after an offensive chance. One of the players acquired in the Leopold trade, Lawrence Nycholat, also looked solid in his own end and even stood up a few of the Wild's better players.

Tonight, all three new(er) defensemen will again be in the lineup, as will top prospect T.J. Galiardi, formerly of the Calgary Hitmen (yes, Bret "Hitman" Hart's hockey team!). I personally have high expectations for T.J. and can't wait to see him out there tonight. Could we see two T.J.s playing on the same line tonight as we have seen with our two Codys in the past? Only time will tell..

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Game #65 Preview

Today, the Avs travel to the Chi to take on the Blackhawks. The Avs current losing streak sits at six games, and unfortunately, I doubt it will be snapped today. Although the Avs actually showed some bits of life against the Wings on Wednesday, I just don't think they'll be able to pull off a win against a playoff-hungry team like the Hawks when the season is nothing short of a lost cause for our boys in burgandy at this point. Also, my Hart Trophy choice, Cody McLeod, will be out of the line-up today due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Wings. This will be his first time out of the line-up since being called up in December of 2007. Let's hope this doesn't hurt his MVP stock..

P.S. Ray from over at SchoolYourPool has notified me of an interview they have posted with up-and-coming Avs prospect Kevin Shattenkirk. I have very high hopes for this kid, so do yourself a favor and read up on your soon-to-be favorite Avs defensemen!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hejduk and Smyth NOT on the block.

This calls for a John Kelly "OH THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!"

Trade #1

The Avs have traded Jordan Leopold BACK to the Calgary Flames in exchange for D Lawrence Nycholat, D Ryan Wilson, and a 2009 2nd Rd. draft pick.

More analysis to come after the deadline passes.

Quick Trade Deadline Preview

Despite the rumors, please keep Lappy, Smyth, and the Duke. Also, please trade Arnason, Tucker, and Hannan for one 7th round pick.

This would be a very happy day. More to come after the deadline passes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Game #64 Preview

Tonight, the last place team in the West, our Colorado Avalanche, faces off against the last place team in the East, the New York Islanders. VS must be SO excited to have such an intriguing matchup being broadcast nation-wide tonight.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Game #63 Recap

I'm leaving after two periods of this slaughtering to go see a Clippers game. That's how bad this team is right now. I would rather watch the Los Angeles Clippers. Au revoir.

Also, I predicted to my friend, before the game, that the Rangers would win 5-1, which is the score right now. Who votes I shut my mouth on predictions from now on?

Game #63 Preview

After one of the most dismal performances the Avalanche have put on the ice this season (which says a lot considering how many dismal performances we have witnessed this season), the Avs look to bounce back in a huge way against a struggling Eastern conference foe, the New York Rangers. Budaj is back in net, which is no surprise seeing as Quenneville taught Granato "well" on how to handle two mediocre goalies. TJ Hensick has been sent down to Lake Erie on a conditioning assignment, leaving his playing spot open to either Mr. Arnason or surprising healthy scratch Marek Svatos. You don't need to tell me, I know who you're hoping for.

One Avalanche fan is more excited than the rest for tonight's game, and he is none other than our beloved announcer Mike Haynes. Mike grew up in New York as a huge Rangers fan, and while we were in Denver last month, he was telling us how excited he was to return to the Garden and how much it means to him every time he gets to go back there as an announcer. Have fun, Mike, and let's hope your new favorite team demolishes your old favorite team!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Game #62 Preview

Tonight, the Avs carry a two-game losing streak into New Jersey to take on the returning Martin Brodeur and the Devils. The Devils currently sit third in the East, despite Marty being out for most of the season thus far. Johnny on-the-spot Liles isn't going to be on the spot, or on the ice, tonight as most of us had hoped for. In a game against one of the top teams in the league, I think this is a big blow, as his replacement, Tjarnqvist, can't do half of the things Liles is capable of. Let's cross our fingers for him to return by Saturday against the Rangers.

On the trade rumor front, The Denver Post is reporting that the Wings are interested in acquiring our beloved Lappy by the trade deadline. No matter what we get from them, I cannot approve a deal like this. Lappy brings everything to the ice every single night, and that's all you can ask for out of a hockey player. Eklund is also reporting that we are interested in acquiring Alexander Frolov from the Kings or Jason Spezza from the Senators. I'm a fan of both players, but the deal would have to be right for me to be okay with it

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Avs get Thrashed early, can't fully recover.

Today, the Avs gave their best impression of a team who could care less about attempting to make the playoffs, at least in the first period. Shortly after the 11 minute mark of the first period, the Thrashers had a commanding three goal lead on our boys in burgandy. However, the Avs decided to show a sign of life as Milan Hejduk scored his 9th PPG of the year on a beautiful cross-crease pass from none other than Paul Stastny. That pass right there really showed what we have missed over the past two months with him out of the lineup. In the second, Hejduk cut the game to a one goal deficit for the Avs with a rocket of a wrister from the slot which banked off the inside of the post before finding the twine. Though, four minutes later, the Thrashers scored their second short-handed goal of the game, bringing their lead to two goals once again. The third period saw a lot of back and forth action with the Avs seeming to have a little bit of an edge. With Budaj on the bench, Chris Stewart scored his 9th goal of the year, but the Avs efforts to tie the game fell short and ended up with a 4-3 loss. The Avs showed a lot of resiliency in this game, but in all honesty, they shouldn't have had to battle back from a three goal deficit against a team like Atlanta. With Stastny back in the lineup, the Avs should be able to put goals on the board, but they can't keep digging themselves into the holes they've become accustomed to this season.

Back for the attack.

After a long absence, I am back. School, friends visiting from out of town, and vacations have all kept me away, but I am looking to get back to writing on a regular basis. A lot has happened in the Avalanche world in the month since my last post. I was in Denver for the last three games in the month of January, and the Avs decided to honor the fact that I traveled 1,000 miles to see them by losing all three games. However, I didn't let those games ruin my trip. I truly love the city of Denver and definitely plan on moving there at some point in the near future. I was able to attend two practices and meet a bunch of the players as well. If you'd like to read more about my trip and see pictures from around the city, I have a travel blog that I kept regularly on my Denver trip, which you can view by clicking on the profile link found on this blog.

The Avs have been up and down since then, which is really nothing new (though they did beat the Red Wings for the THIRD straight time this season), but they look to get a huge boost tonight as Paul Stastny returns to the line-up tonight in Atlanta after missing the last 26 (hey, isn't that his number?) games since suffering a broken forearm against the Coyotes way back in December. If the going rate for games missed due to injury corresponds to your number, let's hope Ryan Smyth never gets hurt again. Please, and thank you. According to the Denver Post, he was skating on a line in practice with Cody McLeod on his left and Milan Hejduk on his right. This is a line I absolutely love and can't wait to see in action tonight. I assume Willsie will be the odd-man-out of the lineup tonight, though part of me would prefer to see Tucker sit, despite his decent play recently.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Be jealous

Yes Avs fans, it's true. I am at Pepsi Center tonight and will be for the next two games as well! I will try to write a bit between each period, but there's a good chance I'll be too mesmerized by the fact that I'm at Pepsi Center to formulate coherent thoughts, Either way, I will post pictures after the game, and as always.. GO AVS!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Game 47 Preview

Tonight, we will see a battle of two of the Western Conference powerhouses as the Kings travel to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche currently sit in 11th in the West while the Kings are nearly bringing up the rear in 13th, though only four points separates the two squads. Okay, so maybe "powerhouse" wasn't the best choice in adjective. Much to my father's chagrin, the Avs are 3-0 against the Kings this season, and they will go for the season sweep with Peter Budaj, who has won all three contests against the Kings this season, between the pipes tonight. In the opposing net will most likely be Jonathan Quick, but there's a chance we could see Jonathan Bernier in net since Quick played last night in Minnesota. Bernier has a 1-3 lifetime record in the NHL, but has supposedly played really well in the AHL thus far, giving the Kings extremely high hopes for the youngster. According to the Avs' official site, none of the injured men will return to the ice tonight, as they will take an extra week off to return to health due to the All-Star break. Personally, I think Stewart should give Johnny Zeiler the ol' Strachan treatment tonight. Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Before the game recap, I want to give a gigantic, avalanche-sized congratulations to both Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk, who both netted career goals #300 in Sunday's win against the Flames. The majority of Smyth's goals came while playing with Edmonton, but all 300 of Hejduk's came for the good guys. What an accomplishment!

Now, onto the game! The Avs came out stronger on offense than the previous 45 games this year, but it appeared Flames' backup Curtis McElhinney was up for the challenge as he came up with big save after big save, but only managed to keep the Avs off the board for 16 minutes before Marek Svatos was able to bang home a rebound in the crease on the powerplay. Less than two minutes later, Salei hit Stewart with a homerun pass for a breakaway, and Stewey made no mistake in finding the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year. By the end of the first, the Avs were leading the shots on goal margin by a total of 20-8. I could be wrong, but I think that's the biggest one period shot differential in favor of the Avs this season.

Ten minutes into the second period, the game seemed to be turning to an all-too-familiar direction as Cammalerri notched his 20th goal of the season on a perfect cross-ice feed on the powerplay, closing the Flames deficit to only one goal. Less than two minutes later, Ruslan Salei took his second straight penalty, giving the red-hot Flames' powerplay a chance to even the score. BUT never fear, Ben Guite is here! After a big save by Budaj, Smyth took the puck up ice with Guite not too far behind creating a two-on-one chance for the Avs. The Flames were obviously SO terrified of how good Ben is as they left Ryan Smyth alone to take the shot of his choice and he buried career goal #300 in the back of the net. Teammate Milan Hejduk was also sitting at 299 career goals coming into the game, and I guess he figured that since Smytty scored #300, he couldn't be left behind with a mere 299 goals! About five minutes later, he was able to score big #300 as well on a powerplay feed from JML. Haynes' goal calls of "NUMBER 300!!!" were nearly identical, but I loved every second of it.

The Flames cut the score to 4-2 early in the third, but the Avs wouldn't let that last for long as they scored two goals in the final five minutes of the period, courtesy of Salei and MVP Cody McLeod. McLeod's TENTH (yes, you read that right) goal of the season came with less than one second left on the clock, and was the proverbial cherry on the top for all Avs fans, and the proverbial slap in the face for all Flames fans. Budaj had a great comeback game after a recent dry-spell of sorts, stopping 39 of 41 Flames shots.

After the game, Budaj was announced as the third star. Then, Alan Roach announced that there would be no second star of the game, as there were two FIRST STARS. Of course, he was referring to Smyth and Hejduk. It would've been special enough for each of them to reach the milestone at some point during this season, but too accomplish it together on the same night made it that much better. I think the saying "a picture is worth one thousand words" applies well here, as the size of their smiles in the picture above says all you need to know about how special that moment was. Hats off to you, Ryan and Milan. Congratulations.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rayzor slips in an Oil slick.

Just when I was starting to turn to the 'dark side' (yes, I've been watching some Star Wars this week) and become a Rayzor supporter, he goes and pulls something absolutely terrible and unforgivable like that third-period, back-breaking, game-winning, completely demoralizing goal that knocked me, and his own confidence in net, back down to planet Earth. There are no excuses for a bone-headed play like that, in a game as important as tonight's. He had no business coming out to play that puck. That's the kind of thing good ol' Patrick used to do in his many attempts to score that one goal he always dreamed of. That's something Marty Turco, or his one-time understudy Mike Smith, is allowed to do because they actually possess basic puck-handling skils and are able to clear the puck by an opposing player with relative ease. This is NOT something The Rayzor should be thinking of doing, no matter how confident he feels in himself at the moment. Yes, the Oilers probably outplayed the Avs a bit tonight and deserved to win, but the fact is the team stayed in the game, and, if not for the stellar goaltending by Mathieu Garon, probably would've won and gotten the two HUGE points up for grabs in tonight's contest. Once again, absolutely inexcusable on Rayzor's part and it's going to take another seven-game winning streak for me to trust him again.

In other news, at various points early in the game, I happened to say a couple bad things about Tyler Arnason and T.J. Hensick's lack of ability to put the puck in the net. And what did they do about it? Not one, but BOTH OF THEM scored and made me eat my words, which happened to taste pretty good at the time until the bonehead ruined it. Maybe the rant you see above will put some good karma on Raycroft's side, as the hockey gods obviously love to prove me wrong.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Game 45 Preview

Is anyone really excited about watching this game after the last two performances this week? Thankfully the Rayzor will be back in net after an abysmal performance last night by Peter Budaj. I haven't found an update on Davey Jones' Locker but I'm hoping he'll be back, and that they'll send Dupuis or Willsie to the press box for the game. Lappy and Foote should be out again, which I think is a huge blow to this team that definitely needs a bit of leadership in both the offensive and defensive zone.

Tonight is the first of EIGHT straight home games, lasting until early February. Tonight, especially, is a must-win, as it is against a divisional opponent with the same number of points right now. In my opinion, the Avs MUST get 10+ points out of a possible 16 from these eight home games, or they'll sadly find themselves way outside the playoff race, barely able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I think it's time to start singing the Budaj Blues.

As much as I love Peter Budaj, he is starting to wear out his welcome very quickly in my mind. Three out of four goals the Blues scored tonight (not counting the empty netter) were just plain awful. Just like the beginning of the season, that five hole is killing him, and the team's chances to stay in games. The team didn't play it's best game tonight, but they had a decent number of chances and managed to get two goals past Legace in the third to bring it to a 3-2 score. Cody McLeod brought his MVP campaign back to life tonight with his 9th goal of the season, and Guite returned to action, bringing mega-stache back with him just to make me happy. Stewart had a monster of a fight and is quickly moving up my favorite players list. Once again, Tucker was out on the ice in crunch time. WHY?!?!?! I don't know what's going on in TG's mind to think that he is worthy of this ice time, but hopefully it changes soon. Let's see if he decides to shake anything up for tomorrow's game. Maybe a Ledin call-up?

Game 44 Preview

Tonight the Avs finish up a two-game roadtrip in St. Louis, before playing eight straight games at good ol' Pepsi Center. In fact, their next road game is against the very same Blues team they will face off against tonight on Saturday, February 7th. By my calculations, that means our boys will be at home for approximately 23 straight days. Tonight is the type of game that the team can not have any minor Tyler Arnason/Darcy Tucker moments because the team just flat out needs to win these contests against "lesser" opponents, as they try to gain some ground in the playoff race. The Avs enter tonight's game with 45 points, technically in 11th place in the west, but tied for 9th. However, the team is just four points behind slumping Vancouver, with the appropriate number of games in hand to tie the Casucks. Budaj will be in net for the first time since a 2-0 loss to the Wild on January 4th, and I'm sure he will do everything he can to prove his worth after being a bit outplayed recently by "backup" Andrew Raycroft. David Jones is listed as questionable with a back injury, and while I wish no harm on Jones, his injury means Guite could see the ice tonight so we all know what I'm hoping for!

I'm starting to really dislike the Jackets..

Over the years, the Avs have never had a problem with the Jackets. Never, ever, ever! But now, the Avs have acquired zero out of a possible six points this season against the only club in the NHL who has never made the playoffs. What is going on here?! Yes, I know the Jackets have gained a lot of young talent over the years through the draft, but shouldn't the Avs at least be able to keep up?! Frustration at it's finest, ladies and gentlemen.

Personally, I figured this game to be a 2-1 final, with the winner possibly coming in OT or even a shootout, based on how the two starting goaltenders had been playing recently. Through two periods, I was ready to crown myself victorious in predicting the final.. until all hell broke loose. In a span of 3:41, five pucks (in order: CBJ, COL, CBJ, CBJ, COL) found the back of the net to give the Jackets a 4-3 lead, which also ended up being the final score. I couldn't really tell what brought on this offensive onslaught by both clubs, but it was definitely the last thing I was expecting.

JML had what I would consider his best game defensivly, as he was constantly out-muscling bigger forwards in the corners to strip them of the puck. This is the kind of play we need from him after his big contract signing this past summer. Let's hope it's here to stay. Marek Svatos scored his first goal in who knows how long, and one could only hope that he has figured out what he's been doing wrong this season and add the offensive firepower the team has gotten from him in the past. If Liles was the team's best player on defense, Chris Stewart was hands down the best on the offensive side of the ice. Not only did he notch an assist on Svatos' goal; not only did he score his own goal in the third to tie the game at two, but he also was credited with four hits in the game as well, and they weren't exactly small little shoves. Stewey was throwing his body around out there like there was no tomorrow, as he should with that size, and is definitely making a case to stay on the team once the injury bug leaves. Also, congrats to one of my favorite players, Cody McLeod. Although he didn't continue his MVP campaign by getting on the scoresheet, he was registered with five hits and three blocked shots. That, my friends, is how you earn a roster spot.

One more thing. I've just about had enough with Darcy Tucker. I've never been one to dislike players on the teams that I live and breathe for, but he's making a case to be the first of his kind. His bonehead move at the end of the Minnesota game last week definitely sticks out in my mind, but a lot of the time he does his best Tyler Arnason impression and just seems completely lost out there. I do not understand Granato throwing him out there with one minute left in a one goal game, but I guess he had his reasons. Unless his play and bonehead penalty-taking change in the second half of the season, I'll be hoping he receives his second contract buy-out in as many years. Good luck Tuck.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Game 43 Preview

Hello my wonderful readers. I am back, and here to stay. After two awful bouts with the flu and some quality time with the family over the past couple of weeks, I am back to write about our (sometimes) wonderful team. So much has happened in the world of the Colorado Avalanche in the past two weeks, but I will choose to focus on the stellar play of late of Wojtek Wolski and Andrew Raycroft. Due to injuries cutting right through the middle of the lineup, TG finally decided to give WW (or Baron von Wolski as he is lovingly known as by some of my blogging buddies) a shot at his natural position of center, and he has yet to disappoint, scoring four goals and two assists in the last three games (all wins, mind you) and winning the NHL's "First Star Of The Week" honors. In net for those three games has been "backup" goalie extraordinaire Andrew Raycroft, and though I am a huge Budaj supporter, it's hard to not be a fan of the guy who's record is 9-1 and has won seven in a row in the process. He'll get the nod in net for his fourth straight game tonight, and goes up against Steve Mason, arguably the hottest goalie in the NHL at the moment. Will this be a goaltenders duel a la Budaj vs. Luongo earlier in the year? We will find out very soon.

It's good to be back!