Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Midseason Review

The Avalanche are at the midway point of their season and as everyone expected, they are in 1st place in the Northwest division with a 23-12-6 record for a total of 52 points. This also puts them at 3rd in the Western Conference. Here's a look at the make up of this season's Avs squad and what has made them successful.


The top line of Wolski, Stastny and Stewart was assembled earlier in the month and has been one of the top lines in the entire league. Stewart is the story of that line as he started the season on the 3rd or 4th line before being sent down to Lake Erie. He has kicked it up since being recalled now sitting 4th on the team in scoring (11-14-25). Wolski (15-23-38) is having a breakout season and is turning into the force we have been hoping for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2004 draft. After a slow road start, Stastny (9-30-39) has picked it up and is currently the Avs' leading scorer.

Milan Hejduk (15-11-26) has been the same consistent Milan Hejduk we have seen over the past decade. Currently he is sitting 3rd on the team in scoring and still very responsible in his own end. He has been wearing the A all season and has proven to be a leader to the rookies (young and old) on the team.

Speaking of rookies, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly certainly have not disappointed. Duchene (11-14-25) started the season off slowly but has been on a tear of late moving into 2nd in rookie scoring, only 3 points behind John Tavares. O'Reilly (5-13-18), although not scoring as much recently, has been probably the best defensive forward the Avs have had all season. TJ Galiardi often goes unnoticed when looking at the young forwards but he has also shown a very good defensive awareness as well as some offensive upside.

Lets not forget the role players. Whoever Sacco throws in the lineup to mix it up, they have all known their roles and have done them very well. Matt Hendricks and Chris Durno are in their 1st seasons but are too old to be considered rookies. Cody McLeod has been playing just as he has ever since he first got the call a few years ago. He has been a great replacement for Ian Laperriere. Recently recalled Brandon Yip has fit in well in Sacco's system. Darcy Tucker has made a complete turnaround from his miserable season last year. All of these guys have brought a lot of speed and energy and have worn down opposing forwards.


The top pairing of Scott Hannan and Kyle Quincey has been the best pairing the Avs have put out all season. Hannan has been a totally different defensemen than he was since coming over here. Quincey has brought a nice blend of toughness, speed and offense to the back end and has really made the trading of Smyth forgettable.

Captain Adam Foote may have lost a step but he makes up for that by the leadership he brings to the locker room. He still plays a pretty physical in your face type of game. Other Avs veteran defenseman, John Michael Liles, started the season out very well, especially on the power play, but after suffering his injury he has been a totally different player. He earned himself a benching in last night's game against Ottawa.

The big story on the blue line has been the emergence of the young guys Kyle Cumiskey and rookie Ryan Wilson. We've seen Cumiskey's blazing speed over the past few seasons but this season he is actually getting ice time and is running with it. He is moving the puck out of the zone well but his defensive game could still use some work. Ryan Wilson has been a tremendous surprise. The kid was undrafted and was considered a throw in in the deal that sent Jordan Leopold to Calgary last season. He's been playing a really simple defensive game and is really effective with it. He is the hardest open ice hitter we've seen in awhile and he sits in the top 10 in scoring by rookie defensemen.


This has been the biggest improvement over last season. The signing of Craig Anderson has been the best offseason signing by any team, and at that price, he's been an absolute steal. He's already started more games than he's ever started in any other season. He is a big guy and plays huge in the net. He moves really well and will often snow angel to cover the puck. Andy has been the team's #1 star for the season.

When Andy gets a night off, Peter Budaj has been terrific. He's got a 2.22 GAA and .927 sv%. When called upon, he gives the Avs a chance to win every game. Something that was not the case last season. One thing's for sure, Budaj may not be a very good #1 goalie but as a backup, he's one of the best out there.


Another huge improvement over last season is the coaching staff. Joe Sacco is making a case for the Jack Adams trophy. On paper, the Avs roster looks like a last place club but Sacco gets the most out of all of his players and really pushes a strong game on both sides of the ice by all of his players. He's been key in getting Wolski to the level he's currently at by benching him earlier in the season. Sylvain Lefebvre is a huge upgrade over Jacques Cloutier. Last season's defensemen were basically just shot blocking pylons who did not hit. Lefebvre stepped in and has really let the D play their games, especially Scott Hannan who has been doing what we expected him to do when he came over from San Jose. Steve Konowalchuk has been working really well with the young guys. You can always see him talking to the Duchenes and O'Reillys when they get off the ice telling them what they did good and bad on their shifts. He has made all our young guys better.

These are all the bright spots of the year so far. However, this team still has some gaping holes that it needs to work on if they're going to have any kind of playoff success now or in the future. The biggest area of concern is the play when they have a lead. As we saw in the game against Anaheim, they sat on a 2-0 lead only to lose the game 4-2 in the last 8 minutes of the game. They can't sit on leads. They just don't have the talent or defense to do that. If the team can just play all 60 minutes of the game, we will be much more dominant.

Another tough task coming up tonight against the beat up but still in the hunt Detroit Red Wings. Happy New Years to everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Welcome back Three-or-more

Tonight Alex Ovechkin and co. come into Pepsi Center for a tilt with the Avs. Starting goalie for the Caps will be former sieve...I mean goalie Jose Theodore. It will be Jose's 1st trip back to Denver since leaving the Avs for the Caps where he, again, couldn't hold onto the starting job.

Theo showed some brilliant displays of goaltending in the last half of the 2007-08 season to help the Avs make the playoffs and then continued to stand on his head in the 1st round against the Wild. Before that though, he wasted nearly 6 million dollars of salary cap space riding the pine for Peter Budaj.

Then this past February, Theodore spoke with the media as if he was the reason for the Caps great record and then had some small shots to take at the Avs organization and their position in the standings. Well, later that night, Theodore and the Caps fell to the Avs on home ice 4-1. Adam Foote was even able to score on Jose. Suddenly, according to Dater, Theodore doesn't speak to the media on game days now.

Hopefully Theodore will play as good in his return to Denver as he did in his return to Montreal after he was traded to the Avs. Whatever the outcome, it is sure to be a very exciting and entertaining game with these two teams' youth, speed and talent.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Avs wrap up 5 game road trip

The Avs finished off their 5 game road trip the same way they started it, with a shutout victory. This was another successful road trip for this young team as they finished up 3-1-1. The whole road schedule is now half way over.

The first game of the trip was a 3-0 victory over the Lightning. Matt Duchene caught fire in this game as he ended up with 2 goals for his first multigoal game of his young career.

Duchene again was a huge story two nights later in Florida despite the Avs losing to the Panthers 6-5 in a really entertaining game. The Avs trailed by 2 goals almost the whole game. Duchene scored his 2nd of the game with just under a minute left in regultation to bring the Avs to within 1. With the net still empty, the Avs put heavy pressure on the Kittens and TJ Galiardi tied the game only seconds before regulation ended.

The season turned scary during the overtime as Keith Ballard, who nearly decapitated his goaltender Vokoun in their previous game, went hard into Craig Anderson and Andy had to leave the game with a neck injury. Budaj came in for the rest of OT and the shootout where only 1 goal was scored by Steven Weiss (who also had a hat trick in the game) for the winner.

The next night in Pittsburgh, Budaj had a really solid game despite the 4-1 outcome. Galiardi had scored in the 2nd period but the play was prematurely whistled dead so the goal did not count (even though the puck crossed the line before the whistle went). That wouldve given the Avs a 2-1 lead but instead it clearly took a lot out of the Avs and they then let Pittsburgh take a 2-1 lead as Sidney Crosby made a nice feed to Bill Guerin who put it by Budaj who had no chance at making the save. Crosby and the Pens got some help padding their stats by netting 2 empty netters in the final minutes.

Budaj got his 2nd straight start in Columbus in another solid performance by the boys in burgundy. They got off to a 2-0 lead which normally is like an Avs loss waiting to happen. The Jackets got 1 past Budaj and that looked like the comeback was about to start but then just after that, Wojtek Wolski made a nice pass (while also taking a hit) to Chris Stewart who took a wrister that squeaked past Steve Mason. The Jackets did get 1 more but the Avs still managed to hang on to the win.

Finally last night the Avs received another great effort by Budaj who recorded the shutout against the Blues. Chris Stewart was a beast in the game as he scored 2 goals and 1 assist for his 2nd career 3 point game. The line of him, Wolski, and Stastny was the best line all night and Coach Sacco played them every chance he got. Matt Duchene capped off the night with his beautiful wrister through Chris Mason to make it 4-0 in the 3rd.

Some other highlights and notes from the trip:
-Matt Duchene was named NHLs 3rd star of the week last week.
-Paul Stastny quietly moved into the top 10 in both points and assists.
-Wojtek Wolski is on a 7 game point streak where he has 10 points in those 7 games.
-Wolski also moved into 16th place on the scoring list.
-Wolski-Stastny-Stewart might become the Avs true #1 line after their performance against the Blues.
-Andy was sent back to Denver before the game in St. Louis to meet with team doctors. He may be ready for the game against the Wild.

The Avs return home tomorrow night when they host the Wild who has had the Avs number all season. The game will be on Versus so as long as you dont have Directv, like me, you'll get to see it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NHL Gamecenter and Avs Thoughts

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I spent it back home in Albuquerque. I knew I wouldn't be home to watch the Avs Preds game on Wednesday or the Avs Wild game on Friday so what did I do? I purchased NHL Gamecenter Live from Gamecenter is great for watching all the games going on that night especially being able to watch 4 games at once. You also get all the player stats and even a chatroom to talk to other fans about the game.

I understand local blackouts and all when talking about TV and even online when the game is live but why black it out for 48 hours after the game is over? That is the case if you are in one of the teams' local markets. Apparently Albuquerque is in Denver's local television market so I wouldn't be able to watch either game for 48 hours after either game ended.

It makes sense when the game is blacked out locally on TV but usually you can catch a re-air later that day or night. With Gamecenter, you must wait 2 whole days. The whole reason I purchased Gamecenter was because I knew I was gonna be too busy to catch the game live so I would just check it out on the archive when I was around. That wasn't the case and I had to miss both of my team's games while I was away.


While I was away, I didn't appear to miss much as the team is starting to come back down to mediocrity. November has been the exact opposite of the red hot October. Only 4 wins in the 13 games so far this month, the Avs would like to end the month on a positive note with a win tonight against the Lightning in Tampa.

Not only are the Avs losing games now, but they are doing it in horrible fashion. They seem to want to just take the foot off the gas when they get a 2 goal lead. As we saw in the game against the Flyers, if we could just put that goal in that gives a 3 goal lead, we can win the game. That doesn't happen. 2 goal lead and then no more pressure and ultimately lose the game.

Games arent the only things being lost now, players are as well. Confirmed Hejduk will be out tonight with that knee issue. The huge loss for the Avs occured against the Wild on Saturday as a Wild player fell onto David Jones' knee causing a tear in his ACL. The injury will keep him out 4-6 months (possibly the rest of the season). Brian Willsie was recalled after Jones was placed on IR. What a horrible loss as Jones was beginning to have a break out season and looked really healthy. He has been showing that he will definitely be part of this team long term. I hope this injury doesn't affect his game when he's back.

Despite the injuries, the team is still getting some positive performances from key guys and even some stepping up their games. McLeod has been his usual self and scoring hard working goals. Durno and Hendricks have both been working hard and getting their chances. Biggest of all, Matt Duchene is starting to get some goals and even got his 1st goal at Pepsi Center on Saturday. The Avs will need Duchene to keep playing like this if they are even thinking about the playoffs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avs remain atop Northwest

Avs 3
Flames 2

After a recent slide which saw the Avs lost 5 of their last 7 including Saturday's embarrassing performance against Vancouver, the Avs came out with a much better effort in the C of Red in Calgary as they earned a 3-2 win over the Flames. The Flames came into the game just 1 point back of the Avs in the Northwest division and made this game a battle for 1st in the division.

The Avs struck 1st blood in the 1st period as Ryan Wilson put home his 1st NHL goal after he snuck in from the point to bang home a loose puck. The Avs would take the 1-0 lead to the 2nd period. Jerome Iginla was his normal self as he sent a lazer over Anderson's glove from the high slot. Shortly after that, Rene Bourque took advantage of a stickless Avs defenseman and put one over Anderson's glove for a shorthanded goal. Immediately after that Paul Stastny took a pass over the blueline and gave a nice centering pass to Cody McLeod who fired a one timer past Kipper. Only 66 seconds later Milan Hejduk put a puck on net that looked like it went off Darcy Tucker's skate but was later ruled to go off Jay Bouwmeester's skate for his 8th of the season. That would be all the scoring the Avs would need as they went into a defensive shell in the 3rd and Anderson made the saves he had to.

This was a very important win for the Avs who were having a very bad November after their strong October. Not only did they beat a division opponent, but they did it in regulation and gave Calgary 0 points. The penalty kill was perfect and the power play even got a goal. The most notable improvement in this game was in the faceoff circle. For once, the Avs dominated faceoffs winning 32 of 51 faceoffs. All around, it was a great game by the whole team.

Performer of the night goes to Ryan Wilson who got his 1st career NHL goal in the 1st period. He came to the Avs from the Flames in the deal that sent Jordan Leopold back to Calgary. The 2nd round pick used to get D Stefan Elliot was a big enough of a win from that deal. Wilson playing this well is an added bonus.

3 Stars
3. S. Hannan
2. R. Bourque
1. R. Wilson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Avs unveil new 3rd jerseys

The Avs finally unveiled their new 3rd jerseys today. They are the same ones that were leaked back in August. I said then that they weren't the greatest but after seeing them on the players, I really like them and may indeed be purchasing one. One of the other things I didn't notice when the leaked pictures came out was the black on the underarm. It's an interesting touch but the jersey is still an A+.

They were unveiled in the Avs locker room with Kyle Quincey and Paul Stastny being models for the new unis. They both looked energetic in the pictures which fits in with the way the team is playing this season. The jerseys will be worn in a game for the 1st time on Saturday night against the Canucks.

Milan Hejduk was originally scheduled to make the appearance with Stastny. My first thought was Hejduk's injury was more severe than at first thought but Dater confirmed that Hejduk wasn't allowed to go since the Avs have a policy of injured players talking to the media.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Avs terrible PK leads to 1st home loss

Avalanche 3
Oilers 5

The Oilers took advantage of a terrible Avs PK and a less than stellar Craig Anderson as they skated to a 5-3 victory over the Avs. This was the Avs 1st loss at home this season as they couldn't break the club record for best home record to start a season. They were also the last team in the league to lose a game at hoome.

The Avs took stupid penalty after stupid penalty and it ultimately cost them the game. The Oilers scored on their first 3 power plays, all of which came in the 1st period and took a 3-1 lead into the 2nd period. The Avs made it 3-2 in the 2nd with a goal that went off Stastny in front of the net and then hit TJ Hensick's skate and slid over the line. It was Hensick's 1st of the season. Oilers made it 4-2 early in the 3rd as Ryan Potulny took a cross ice feed and put it past a sliding Anderson again on the power play. David Jones put the Avs back in the game 3 minutes later as he chipped the puck in an empty net as Nikolai Khabibulin was way out of the net trying to cover the puck. Another stupid too many men penalty lead to the Oilers 5th goal. Right after the penalty ended Andrew Cogliano tipped a rebound past Anderson to make it 5-3.

The play that changed the game came on an Avs power play in the 2nd period. The Avs were dominating the period at this point. The puck bounced over Khabibulin and landed right in front of the crease. Paul Stastny had an empty net and as he batted at it, Jason Strudwick got his stick on the puck right after Stastny hit it to force it to miss the empty net. If Stastny gets that one, it's a 3-3 game and a very different game.

Craig Anderson didn't look like his usual self. He made some big stops but looked as though he couldn't find the puck as well as he normally does and looked uncomfortable sliding side to side. TJ Hensick was inserted into the lineup after warm ups because Milan Hejduk hurt his back and was unable to play.

Performer of the night goes to Paul Stastny. He skated hard and again was solid in all three zones. He got his usual 2 points at home as he assisted on Hensick and Jones' goals.

Underperformer of the night goes to the entire Avs PK. They allowed 4 goals on 7 opportunities. They weren't aggressive on the kill and didn't get sticks in the passing lanes.

Three Stars
3. P. Stastny
2. D. Penner
1. R. Potulny

Friday, November 6, 2009

Avs win another shootout thriller

Avs 4
Blackhawks 3
Final (SO)

Coming from behind yet again, the Avs managed to stave off the Blackhawks in another long shootout between the two teams this one going 8 rounds. Chris Stewart got the go ahead goal in the 8th round of the shootout before Craig Anderson made the final stop for the win for the good guys.

The Avs erased an early 2 goal deficit after the Hawks scored 2 goals in the first 10 and a half minutes. Ryan O'Reilly started the comeback as he chipped in a rebound with a little over a minute left in the 1st. David Jones then scored a shorthanded goal on a beautiful power move past Dustin Byfuglien. A minute later as the penalty was expiring, O'Reilly got his 2nd of the game on a breakaway on the 2nd attempt. The Hawks tied it up in the 3rd as Ladd tapped in a rebound as Kyle Cumiskey forgot to cover the man in front of the net. In the shootout, Kane scored for the Hawks. Marek Svatos scored 1st for the Avs and then Chris Stewart got the winner in the 8th round.

The Avs were dominated by the Hawks in the last 10 minutes of the game and in overtime. Once again, Andy stood tall and did not let in any bad goals. He was again one of the main reasons we won the game. The Avs also killed off 2 penalties while allowing 1 PP goal (the Hawks 1st goal). The power play was ineffective again going 0 for 1.

On the injury front, John Michael Liles left the game in the 1st and did not return. It is being called another shoulder injury and there is no details on how long, if at all, he will be out. Matt Hendricks returned to the lineup after being on the IR so because of his return, Chris Durno was sent back to Lake Erie today. Tom Preissing was also sent to Lake Erie on a conditioning stint so his debut should be coming up soon. He will help our power play get back on track.

Performer of the night goes to Ryan O'Reilly. He had his 1st multiple goal game of his young career and again was very solid defensively finishing the night with a +2. His 14 points are tied for 1st among rookie scorers.

Underperformer of the night goes to the team in the final minutes of the game. They couldn't get the puck out of the zone and if they did, it was an icing call and they still couldn't get off for a change. The game was almost lost in that time.

Three Stars
3. C. Stewart
2. C. Anderson
1. R. O'Reilly

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Much better effort for the Avs

Avs 4
Coyotes 1

The 4-1 final tally for the Avs is not too indicative of how close the game was all night. The Avs opened the scoring on a power play in the 1st minute of the game on a tip in goal by Milan Hejduk. It remained 1-0 until almost 7 minutes into the 3rd when Marek Svatos put a little rebound in from the stick of Paul Stastny past Bryzgalov. The Coyotes made it a game just 3 minutes later after Ed Jovanovski's power play point shot was tipped by Kyle Quincey over Budaj's shoulder. That would be all Budaj would allow. David Jones added an empty netter in the final minute followed by a breakaway goal by Hejduk 19 seconds later.

The best line all night for the Avs was the McLeod-Duchene-Svatos line. Yes, for once, Svatos did not bring the line down. McLeod played with a visor but didn't shy away from the rough stuff. He created tons of space for Duchene and Svatos to fly around and they did just that. Svatos did of course take a dumb stick penalty late in the game as usual but the fact that they were able to kill off the penalty and the fact that he still had a goal nullified the dumb penalty.

The power play finally scored tonight on Hejduk's first goal and went 1-6 overall. Apart from the one that ended in a goal, the PP still looks like it needs work. Phoenix cleared it relatively easy and were able to skate around the Avs zone while on the kill. The PK was pretty good again as usual. Their penalty killing streak ended at 23 but the goal was a fluke off Quincey's stick. The Avs killed 3-4 of their penalties.

Performer of the night goes to Peter Budaj. He made the big saves when he needed to and was solid in net for the most part. There were still iffy moments in his game but nothing more than 1st game jitters in my opinion. His normal "always open for business" 5 hole was kept closed all night and the only shot that beat him was tip off Quincey's stick right in front of him. Perfect game for a back up goalie.

Underperformer of the night goes to Chris Stewart. The kid was sent down in the middle of last month and then came back flying. Tonight, he went back to lazy and slow ways. It seemed every time he was on the ice, the puck was in the Avs zone for his whole shift. I'm sure Sacco will deal with him appropriately.

Three Stars
3. P. Budaj
2. M. Svatos
1. M. Hejduk

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Budaj to Make 1st start

Dater confirmed that Peter Budaj will make his first start tomorrow night against the Coyotes. He was supposed to make his first start two weeks ago but he was diagnosed with swine flu which caused him to miss all of last weeks games while Tyler Weiman filled in as Andy's back up.

Budaj has received some unfair treatment by fans (myself included) but not all of it is fully warranted. Last season, goaltending was a huge problem for the Avs and Peter was the number 1 in that department. Does that mean he is a number 1 in this League? Absolutely not. Is he a good goaltender? Sure, in a back up role. Thinking back to the days when Theodore came over from Montreal, Theo was hurt and Budaj was the one in charge of making sure the Avs didn't lose their playoff spot. He did really well in that role and sure enough the Avs made it into the playoffs. The next year, Theodore was about as terrible as he had ever been in his time in Denver which was costing us a shot at the playoffs. This was when the rest of the team decided to finally play good team hockey and it was lead by solid goaltending by Budaj. Even though they missed the playoffs, it was a damn good run by Budaj.

Bottom line is that Budaj is a perfectly capable back up goalie. Anderson definitely needs and deserves the rest and Budaj is a great option to have backing him up to give him that rest. I'm confident in Budaj's ability to win when he's asked to fill in. He's proved it many times before.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Avs flat in Vancouver

Canucks 3
Avalanche 0

Well the Avs decided to pick up right where they left off in San Jose. They went into Vancouver and got shutout by Andrew Raycroft (yes the same one that helped land us Matt Duchene last season). Raycroft only had to stop 18 shots and that was mainly because the Avs couldn't get any kind of sustained pressure in the Nucks zone. Raycroft himself even said it wasn't his best performance. Thats how bad the Avs played.

Craig Anderson, who was the clear MVP for the Avs in October, wasnt as sharp as usual. He stopped 17 of 20 shots but when the team in front of him can't even muster up 1 goal, it's pretty hard to pin the loss on Andy. He looked noticeably fatigued throughout the game and it almost seems like we'll see Budaj in next game.

Performer of the night goes to O'Reilly because he did have a couple of chances and looked like he cared. Honorable mention goes to Phil Dupuis who was in his 1st game of the season. He got a few chances as well.

Underperformer of the night goes to Paul Stastny. He was finally benched by Sacco in the 3rd period. He was his usual self defensively but nearly invisible anywhere else on the ice. The guy has got to learn to perform offensively like a 6 million dollar man is supposed to. Stastny is looked at by many as the future captain of this team but I would not want this type of player leading my team. Hopefully Sacco benching him will light a fire under him.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Record setting October

No one who knows anything about hockey could have guessed that after the 1st month of the NHL season, the Avalanche would be sitting atop the Western Conference. Even the most die hard of fans could see this coming. The Avs' 22 points is the most the Avalanche have put up in the month of October in their 14 year history. Yes, that also means that it is more than the 96 Cup team (15 pts) and the 01 Cup team (20 pts) had. The 20 points by the 00-01 team was the previous record for points in October.

Speaking of records, it would've been hard for the Avs to reach this great record without goalie Craig Anderson. Andy started all 14 games in the month so he is also 10-2-2 and is still yet to give up a soft goal. Obviously 10 wins in any month is a career high for him but it is also a team record edging out some guy named Patrick Roy.

It has been a team effort on the Avs part to get them to where they are currently sitting. Everyone is chipping in. Despite being benched in 2 games by Joe Sacco, Wojtek Wolski seems like he's finally starting to get it. He has been great in the last few games since his last benching. His 13 points are tied for 1st with Paul Stastny. The most surprising of contributions is coming from rookie Ryan O'Reilly. Tied for 2nd on the team with 11 points, he also sits 2nd overall in rookie scoring, 1 point behind Rangers rookie Michael Del Zotto.

One person who is bringing the team down (despite what the standings say) is Marek Svatos. He's got 2 goals, both of which came on power plays, and he is a team worst -7. Not only is his defense horrendous but he gets knocked off the puck too easily and gives away the puck to frequently. How Sacco has failed to bench this guy is beyond me but something tells me this will be Mr. Svatos' last season in Denver.

Just like the last few seasons, injuries have been a huge problem for the Avs. Throughout October, the Avs have lost Darcy Tucker, Cody McLeod, John Michael Liles, Peter Budaj, Matt Hendricks and most recently TJ Galiardi. Liles has already returned and Budaj, who had the swine flu, is also back with the team. Galiardi, who is a huge loss to the very good PK, is out 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury.

The Avs still have to work on some problems if they want to be taken seriously in the league. There are still issues with allowing the other teams to keep the puck in their end for long periods of time. They also have to start limiting the number of shots their opponents get on net. It's great that Andy is almost perfect everynight, but with the number of games it looks like he's going to get, he doesn't need to get that much work everynight.

Now that October is over, the Avs can look forward to a new month, November, that will see a few more home games than last month (7). The month gets kicked off tonight in Vancouver. Anderson will be making his 15 consecutive start for the Avs against former Av Andrew Raycroft since Luongo is out with a rib injury. Anderson shut the Nucks out in the 1st meeting October 3rd.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Andy! Andy! Andy!

Well the Avs did have a game tonight against the Wings but the main story of the night was Craig Anderson. Again, Andy was the best Av on the ice all night. He finished with a whopping 48 saves! Detorit's shot total was helped in large part by the 8 powerplays given to them by the guys in the stripes.

The Avs PK was good tonight leaving most of the Wings shots to the outside while Andy kept the other chances out of the net. They finished 8 for 8 on the PK. The only goal that got past Andy was on a shot that was screened by Draper and then batted in by Draper.

The Avs tied the game at 1 on a goal by TJ Galiardi (1st) who was left all alone in front of the net after Chris Stewart took the puck from Jonathan Ericson in the corner and then fed Galiardi for the roof job over Howard. They took the lead in the 3rd when Chris Stewart came in 1 on 1 and fired a quick snapper over the blue line that went far post on Howard for his 1st. Stastny finished the scoring with an empty netter coming out of the penalty box in the final minutes. Assisting on Stastny's goal was Ryan O'Reilly who extended his point streak to 7 games. He is now tied for the lead in rookie scoring and is leading rookies in +/-. He's truly going to be a special player for the Avs for years to come.

Still, the main story of the night was the play of Craig Anderson. His 48 saves were a season high. He was again voted 1st star of the game and during his interview, the crowd kept chanting "Andy! Andy! Andy!" He was also getting the crowd into it during the interview. It was great to see and hear. It seems pretty safe to say that the city of Denver has fallen in love with their goalie finally.

Avs now get ready to hit the road for 4 straight including back to back games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Oilers and Flames respectively followed by rematches against the Sharks and Canucks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

4-1-2 Not too bad

Avs finally wrapped up their 7 game road trip last night with a 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota. They finished the trip with 4-1-2 record taking 10 of a possible 14 points and remain atop the Western Conference with 14 points.

The trip ended up just like it started out against Nashville. Avs had a 3rd period lead that they let slip away in the final minutes. Unlike in Nashville though, they still managed to get a point out of Minnesota. Still, sandwiched in the middle of those games, the Avs managed to walk into Boston, Montreal, Toronto, and Detroit with wins and even earned a point in Chicago. Very impressive trip.

Craig Anderson was the main reason for the Avs successful road trip. Despite finishing with a 2.71 GAA on the trip, he made the big saves that kept giving the Avs a chance to win the game and then the team did their job and scored some goals.

2 of the biggest goals of the trip saw rookies Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene get their first NHL goals. O'Reilly now sits tied for 2nd among rookie scoring (1+6=7) while Duchene sits in a tie for 4th (1+3=4) along with teammate TJ Galiardi. Both are confirmed to be sticking around past the 9 game tryout. 28 year old Matt Hendricks also scored his first NHL goal on the trip against his former team, the Boston Bruins.

Next up, the Avs return home for a back to back set against Carolina on friday and then the Wings are in town on Saturday. After that short home stand, the Avs get back on the road for another trip, this time only 4 games.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Should Anderson make Team USA?

Pierre LeBrun over at mentioned in his blog today that Anderson is trying to make a case for himself to get looked at for a goaltending job with Team USA in February's Olympics in Vancouver. His stats speak for themselves as to why he would make a great option for the Olympic team. He is capable of handling a heavy workload (especially since he's getting a lot of practice with the Avs).

Team USA is expected to finish around the same as the experts predicted the Avs to finish. Look how that's turning out. Andy wasn't one of the goalies that attended the orientation camp but he is definitely outperforming his American born counterparts. The favorites to go to Vancouver are Boston's Tim Thomas and Buffalo's Ryan Miller. Both are good choices and Thomas is the reigning Vezina winner but when comparing this season's play, Andy comes out on top.

Anderson is currently leading all American born goalies in wins (6) and is currently only behind Miller in GAA (2.09) and save% (.935). Miller has a 1.58 and .938 in those categories but he has faced half as many shots. The season is still early but Brian Burke and co. should definitely be giving Anderson a good look.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

These kids are good

Any win against the Wings is a sweet one but last night's victory over the winged wheel was about as sweet as a victory could get (well unless this is the result). The Wings were dominating the game through the first 50 minutes but, again, Craig Anderson made save after save and gave the Avs the chance to stay in the game.

Up 2-0 going into the 3rd, the Avs looked finished and it got worse when Svatos took a double minor for high sticking with about 16 minutes left in the period. Once again, the PK got it done with much help from Anderson including a beautiful save with the right pad to keep the puck out of the net and the game still in reach. That kill was definitely the momentum changer in the game.

A rare turnover by the Wings in the neutral zone by O'Reilly who fed the puck up to McLeod for the Avs 1st goal with 11 minutes to play. Shortly after that, Matt Duchene finally got his first as he skated the puck along the right wing board from his own zone and fired a beauty of a wrister past a stunned Osgood. Detroit tried to end the game as Val Filppula gave the Wings a 3-2 lead with 6 and a half to play after Anderson had made the 1st save. It was obvious that the Avs were not done and refused to lose. The line of Galiardi-O'Reilly-McLeod clicked again when Galiardi got the puck up to O'Reilly who had a 2 on 1 with McLeod. O'Reilly faked the shot, defenseman went down and then he fed the puck over to McLeod who had an empty net to shoot into for his 2nd of the game and 2nd assist for O'Reilly. In OT, the Avs dominated and looked like a totally different team over the last 15 minutes of the game and then eventually ended the game in the shootout with goals by Svatos and Hejduk while Anderson stopped 2 of the 3 shots faced to complete the comeback.

The resiliency showed by this team last night was something special. It wasnt the old guys getting the job done, it was the kids O'Reilly, Galiardi, Duchene, and McLeod. It is great to see quality hockey coming from the Avs again. This team just may be for real.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good news on Liles injury

The Avs got some good news today on the status of John Michael Liles' shoulder injury. As Dater first reported, the defenseman did not separate the shoulder in the game yesterday against the Leafs. It is just a bruised shoulder and he will be out 2 weeks at the most so we will probably see him sometime before then.

Since he will not be suiting up on Thursday in Montreal and Ruslan Salei is also on IR, the Avs will give Ryan Wilson a shot on the blue line as he was already called up when Salei went down. Wilson was brought over from Calgary last season at the deadline in the deal that sent Leopold back to the Lames.

4 down 3 to go

The Avs just passed the midway point of their long 7 game road trip after downing the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. They have continued their surprising play during this trip. Despite dropping the 1st game in Nashville for the Preds home opener, they battled a really high powered Blackhawks team all the way to the 9th round of the shootout. 2 nights later they beat last season's Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins in an afternoon tilt on Columbus Day.

Overall, the team has done exactly what Joe Sacco said they were do and that is play with a lot of energy and be a team that is very difficult to play against. However, the one thing that the team really needs to do is not sit back on leads. They blew the lead in the 3rd period against the Preds that ultimately lost them the game, couldn't hold onto the lead against Chicago and then nearly blew two 2 goal leads against Boston.

Craig Anderson still hasn't missed a game and also has not missed a beat. He's now 1 of only 3 goalies to play 6 games so far this season along with Kipprusoff and Nabokov and he has the lowest GAA and best sv% of the 3.

Against Boston, the Avs got a big spark with the return of David Jones who has been injured all season with a bruised chest. Jonesy has looked incredible so far with a goal and an assist in each of his 2 games and both goals were game winners. His size and speed bring a great element to this young Avs team. Jones is going to be a very important part of this team going forward.

Matt scored his 1st career goal against Boston but it wasn't Duchene. Matt Hendricks, at the ripe young age of 28 scored his 1st career goal by doing what he is supposed to do in driving to the net and chipping in a rebound. Duchene and O'Reilly are still goalless but have added some assists and both have been huge in helping the Avs be so good on both the PP (2nd) and PK (5th). Both are making cases to stick with the club beyond the road trip.

As far as injuries are concerned, Liles left the game against the Leafs in the 2nd after being hit from behind into the boards (uncalled). It looked like a shoulder injury and hopefully it is not serious. Salei was also put on IR and because of that, Ryan Wilson, who was acquired in the Leopold trade last season and was one of the last players cut in camp, was called up from Lake Erie. If Liles goes on IR, we'll get our first look at Wilson on Thursday against the Habs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anderson keeps rolling

The Avs didn't pick up the victory Thursday night in Nashville but Andy remained solid. He stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced. They only goals that were allowed were on a Jason Arnott one timer in the slot and then 2 by Hornqvist who was left all alone in front of the net. In total, through 3 games, Andy has stopped 107 of 112 shots faced which equates to the best display of goaltending the Avs have seen since Roy retired.

Anderson has done exactly what he needs to do in every game so far, and that is just to give the team a chance to win every night. He is expected to start on Saturday against the Blackhawks in his home town. This is sure to be a huge test for Anderson who is more than likely going to face a lot more rubber than he has faced with Chicago's high powered offense in their home opener. Andy also is a former Blackhawk so he will definitely have something to prove in his return. Hopefully he stays strong in net and the Avs have a chance in this game.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not a bad start eh?

So heading into this season, everyone had the Avs written off, myself included. A rookie management staff, rookie coaching staff, an untested goaltender and two 18 year old centers in the lineup should lead to a disastrous season. Instead, Pierre Lacroix is looking like a genius bringing in Greg Sherman who was responsible for bringing in, Joe Sacco and most importantly, Craig Anderson. It's only 2 games into the season but it is really too hard to not be excited about the way this team has started out.

First, last Thursday, the Avs had a very classy and very emotional tribute to their longtime captain, Joe Sakic, by raising his #19 to the rafters of Pepsi Center. Just about everyone in the building, once again myself included, expected the Avs to get destroyed by the league's best (regular season) team. Instead, they came out, clearly inspired and energized by the ceremony for Joe, and beat the Sharks 5-2.

Wolski started the season with 2 goals by using his size to get pucks in the net down low. McLeod, Liles and one of the biggest scapegoats from last season, Darcy Tucker chipped in with goals to lead the charge. The biggest story of the game was goalie Craig Anderson. Overall, he stopped 38 of 40 shots including all 19 in the 3rd period. I don't remember hearing a goalies name chanted in the Pepsi Center since Roy.

On Saturday, the Avs continued that momentum with a great performance against Vancouver. Wolski and Tucker again provided goals as well as Paul Stastny chipping in with his 1st of the season. The story of this game again, though, was Craig Anderson who stopped all 35 shots he faced for the shutout. Anderson has been the biggest reason for this team's great start and he was rewarded for his great play by being named the 2nd star of the week in the NHL.

As for the rookies, Duchene and O'Reilly, they have not looked out of place at all. O'Reilly I still believe will be sent back to Erie after 9 games, mainly just to get ice time as Sacco has been giving him 4th line minutes. Duchene has been just as advertised. He's been the fastest skater on the ice in both games and has shown some really slick moves. No goals have been scored by either player but they have been working really hard and have both been used on the PK where they have also excelled. Both players also recorded assists in the opener against San Jose.

It's only 2 games in but this team has already played better and shown more heart than they did all of last season. I really love how Sacco has the team playing. If they keep playing like this and Anderson keeps up his solid play, playoffs will not be out of the question.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gameday 10/1/09 vs Sharks

SJ 0-0-0 0pts Avs 0-0-0 0pts

Game Time: 10:00 PM ET
Venue: Pepsi Center Denver, CO
Injuries: Col - D Tom Preissing (knee), RW David Jones (bruised chest). SJ - none

This game will feature many 1sts. It's the 1st game for both teams this season, 1st game for Avs rookies Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, 1st game for new goaltender Craig Anderson in an Avs uni, and most importantly for the Avs, 1st game without long time captain, Joe Sakic. This is obviously the biggest story line of the game with Super Joe's #19 going up to the rafters in Pepsi Center. As Adrian Dater mentioned, there will be a pretty nice guest list including Peter Forsberg and Mike Keane to name a few. Also, sure to be in attendance is former Avs blueliner Rob Blake, who just recently was named new captain of the Sharks. It is sure to be a tremendous ceremony for the best player this franchise might ever see.

While the Sakic Ceremony will take the biggest spotlight, there will still be a game played. While not much is expected of the Avs, one would think that they would at least step up their game for their former captain. The Sharks, on the other hand, have so much to prove this season and they will look to get off to a hot start to the season. They finished last season with a league best 117 points but ran into a red hot Ducks team in the 1st round of the playoffs. A team with players labeled as playoff failures (Hi Mr. Thornton!), the Sharks made some significant offseason moves. GM Doug Wilson said there would need to be changes and the first move he made was stripping the captain C off Patrick Marleau's jersey. It will now be worn by Blake with alternates Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle. The most recent move made was acquiring super diva Dany Heatley from Ottawa for Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo. It's hard to imagine the Avs will be able to hang with the Sharks but there may just be that extra spark being opening night and seeing Joe's number go up.

One thing to keep an eye on is the kind of system new coach Joe Sacco runs. With the lineup he has put in place, each line will have at least 1 tough guy on it with the exception being the top line of Wolski, Stastny and Hejduk. Look for Sacco to use a strong forecheck and really have his players finish their checks making the game a tough one for the Sharks' skill guys. As long as the guys go out fighting and not just laying back getting beat, the game will be considered a success despite the outcome.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2009-10 Season Preview

We are just a day away from the beginning of Avs hockey AJ (after Joe). The Avs will begin their first season under new captain Adam Foote against the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night.


Last season's most blaring weakness was in the goaltending department. As we already know, Peter Budaj is not a starting goaltender and Andrew Raycroft signed for league minimum with Vancouver. Knowing that, the Avs brought in Craig Anderson from the Florida Panthers. While Anderson has never been a true number 1 tender, he has at least shown improvement over the years (.924 sv% since the 2005-06 season and .911 throughout his career) and nearly stole the starting job away from Florida starter Tomas Vokoun last season. He seems to play a lot better with the more shots he faces. Also, at just 28 years young, he is just entering the prime of his career. Returning from last season's duo is Peter Budaj. Last season was Budaj's first (and probably only) shot at being a number 1 goalie. Budaj has shown in the past that he can at least be a capable backup so the Avs won't be forced to play Anderson like he was Brodeur or Luongo.


While goaltending didn't help the defense out much last season, the same could be said about the defense helping the goaltending. Despite the Avs being one of the leading teams in blocked shots, they often got out of position, couldn't get the puck out of the zone, and left the goalie out to dry. Another big problem with the defense last season was lack of offensive production. John Michael Liles' 39 points lead the defense corp while the rest of the D accounted for just 50 points. Bad news for this season is that the same D will be running the blue line this season. There is one positive though, the acquisition of Kyle Quincey. Between him and Liles, they should really help bolster the Avs offense from the blueline, especially on the power play as that would give the team 2 point threats. Being a contract year, Ruslan Salei and Brett Clark should also see increases offensive production.

Under new coaching, the defense should also be more physical. Under Cloutier, it seemed like the only was the D would try to shut the other team down was to just lay down in front of the shot. Sylvain Lefebvre will instill some more physicality in the defensemen's game. This will benefit guys like Adam Foote, Ruslan Salei and most importantly, Scott Hannan, who was brought in to be our shut down guy.


The offense will be the wild card in whether or not the Avs will compete for a spot in my opinion. With the goaltending now bolstered, the offense is going to have to find a way to score more goals. The Avs were one of just two teams last season that didn't score 200 goals. Paul Stastny will be heavily relied on to stay healthy and finally have a break out year with more points than he had in his rookie year. Milan Hejduk will be good for 25-30 goals as usual. One of the most important players for the Avs this season will be Wojtek Wolski. Heading into his 4 full season in the league, he will need to put everything together. He has the size, speed, playmaking abilities, and scoring touch to be a top player in this league but he needs to find a way to be more consistent with it to become that player. The Avs need to have big years out of their big power forwards, Chris Stewart and David Jones. Stewie showed his offensive touch in his rookie season last season and should improve on that. Jones, when healthy, has the size and speed to be a top power forward in the league but needs to work on finishing and staying healthy. Those 2 should get around 90 points combined. Another player who will need to stay consistent and healthy is Marek Svatos. He has yet to play a full season but is also a former 30 goal guy. If he can stay healthy, 30 goals is not out of the question. Super Rookie, Matt Duchene is not expected to have an Ovechkin or Crosby-like rookie season with over 100 points but he should be able to score around 40. TJ Galiardi showed last season that he has the scoring touch and now that he has added around 20 lbs to his frame, should be able to really produce over a full season. A guy like Darcy Tucker, who recently went on record saying he's having a bounce back season. He could be an important piece if he can get around 20 goals from the bottom 6. Also rounding out that bottom 6 is Cody McLeod who probably won't get the 15 goals he got last season but will still be a spark plug for the team and pitch in around 10 goals.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Duchene and O'Reilly to start the season with the Avs

The Avs made 3 cuts today that sent Chris Durno, Derek Peltier, and Tyler Weiman down to Lake Erie. With those 3 down, the Avs now have 24 players on the roster but Tom Preissing will be put on injured reserve making the 23 man roster complete.

That means that the two 18 year olds who were both just drafted in June will start the season with the big club. Matt Duchene was pretty much a lock for a spot but O'Reilly really impressed coach Joe Sacco enough to earn him a spot for the beginning of the season.

Duchene will more than likely begin the season as the team's 2nd line center behind Paul Stastny. O'Reilly should begin as the 3rd line center. This is shaping up to be a really young center group with Stastny being the dinosaur at just 23 years old.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hejduk gets 1 year extension

The Avs just signed RW Milan Hejduk to a 1 year extension through the 2010-2011 season. No terms for he deal were announced but I would guess it's for around the same amount $3.9 million he currently makes maybe a little more now that he also has more of a leadership role. There is also no mention of a no trade clause but I also assume that would be on there since his current contract includes one.

Update: According to the Denver Post, the deal is for 3 million. Great to hear the Duke even took a paycut to stay with us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Avalanche Blogger Roundtable Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the Avalanche Blogger Roundtable. Once again, Mile High Hockey is hosting this whole Roundtable and you can head over there to get linked up to all the answers to the questions you know you have for this upcoming season.

Today's question will be discussing the Avs new bench boss, Joe Sacco and what is to come from this 1st year NHL head coach after 2 seasons with Monsters in Cleveland.

Also, today head on over to Avalanche of Thoughts for some other rumblings of the new Joe in town.

What will be the most successful change Sacco will bring to the team? Why?

The most successful change Joe Sacco will bring to this season's Avalanche will be making the team a tougher one to play against on nightly basis. He mentioned this fact numerous times during his press conference. Last season's Monsters showed that. They were basically forced to have an ECHL roster with all of the injury call ups the Avs needed and yet, they still were competing for a spot in the AHL playoffs. I believe he will achieve this by getting the players working hard and finishing checks, something last season's Avs did not do much. TJ Galiardi mentioned that was something that Sacco taught in his time with the Monsters in the Denver Post article.
Me - Avaholics

Work ethic, a thing this team lacked last year. They will fight in the corner, skate for loose pucks and all of the small things that make your team hard to play against. Simple stuff like having the defensemen play face-up to the skaters, defending the blue line, pressing the attack and creating break-out plays. If he can do that, the Avs should be better than last years incarnation. If not? well, we've see it all before. Oh and forget about the ghost of Patrick Roy watching over your shoulder, Sacco. This is your team right now and coach the best you can to make a decision of firing you as hard as possible.
Aaron M - HockeyBuzz

It's been said that Sacco has been a great developer of talent in Lake Erie, and that's a change that's not necessarily welcome for all of the obvious reasons, but if that's what the organization needs right now, let's go with it. Some coaches need to be able to manage talent, some need to develop it, and some need to do a bit of both. He's going to need to develop talent for a few seasons right now, and that is what he's known for, so hopefully that's the most successful change he's able to bring with him to the show.
Jay - The Avs Hockey Podcast

The change that Sacco will bring will be in the area of youth development. He proved successful in growing the youngsters in the minors, thus the logical move to elevate him to head coach for the rebuild. What Sacco must do is continue to grow the kids while serving as a steadying force during the inevitable hiccups that will come over the next couple of years. The sad part is that if he is successful in cultivating a strong team, he may end up as the odd man out when the time comes to take things to the next level, ala Michel Therrien in Pittsburgh. My hope is that his abilities will evolve along with the team and he will stick.
Aaron D - The Dog and Pony Show

From the sounds of how he ran the camps, it will be work ethic. Sacco sounds like a coach who is all business yet doesn't alienate his players. He seems to be able to push players to reach their potential and they appreciate and respond to the way he does it. That's exactly what this team is going to need as they grow up together. Too often last season, after one of their many losses, I never felt confident that Tony Granato was standing up and calling the guys on their inconsistent play. With Sacco, I'm already confident that he won't let players get away with not trying. Lucky for him, Arnie isn't around anymore. Or maybe it's lucky for Arnie...
Shane - AvsTalk

And there it is. Work ethic and developing the young guys is what we can all expect Joe Sacco to turn around with this year's Avalanche squad.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Will Ryan O'Reilly make the big club this season?

Ryan O'Reilly just signed a 3 year entry level deal with the Avs today. He hasn't been cut yet and has been getting praise by Joe Sacco all training camp and preseason.

When drafted, many people believed O'Reilly would need to spend another season in the OHL before making th jump. The fact that he has not been cut yet and is constantly talked about and is now signed makes me believe he will be on the Opening Night roster.

Now whether he does get cut or makes the team and stays past the 10th game is up to Ryan and the coaching staff. I'd love to see him get the 10 game tryout and see what he's made of.

Stoa among latest cuts

The Avs today announced that they cut Ryan Stoa. Stoa was a player I thought would definitely be on the Avs roster. Dater had mentioned that he didn't look up to NHL speed but I figured his size would land him in a top 6 LW spot. Hopefully he will spend time working on this in Cleveland this season and we will see him in the not so distant future.

Stoa had a goal in the first preseason game against Dallas and only logged 8 minutes in last night's 2~1 victory against the Blues. None of those 8 minutes came in the 3rd period.

Avs also sent down defenseman Ryan Wilson. This was kind of expected since we curently have enough NHL dmen under contract. The latest cuts take the roster down to 27.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shawn Bates released

Shawn Bates came to Avalanche training camp on a professional tryout. Today, he was released from that tryout.

I felt Bates could'be been that true 3rd line center that we haven't seen in Denver since Nikolishin or Yelle. Over 50% in the circles and great on the PK.

As Dater mentioned, the Avs will probably use Galiardi as 3rd line center and go with a more offensive 3rd line which wouldn't suit Bates' style.

other cuts today included Tom Fritsche, Patrick Cusack, Samuel Finn, Peter Delmas, Brandon Maxwell, and Cedric McNicoll leaving the Avs with 49 players for the Burgandy and White game tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rookies Done. Vets Next.

In just 12 short hours, the Avalanche veterans will be taking the ice for the first day of on-ice training camp. The rookies, who just finished up the third and final day of rookie camp, got the day off today while the veterans reported for physicals and will re-join the vets on ice tomorrow morning.

Over the next 3 days, 59 Avalanche hopefuls will be competing for a chance to make the big club for the 09-10 season. It will be mainly the forwards who are competing for spots as the Avs have a plethora of NHL defensemen. Early favorites to make the squad Matt Duchene and Ryan Stoa will get the opportunity to show the coaching staff what they bring against NHL caliber players.

The 3 day training camp concludes on Tuesday and on Wednesday the team will be split up for the annual Burgandy and White game. The night after, the Avs will open their 6 game preseason schedule against the Dallas Stars. For some great pictures of rookie camp check out The Avalanche Guild's photo album.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Training Camp Roster Announced

Today the Avs finally announced the roster for its rookie and training just 5 days before rookies are expected to take the ice. Of the 59 players taking part in training camp, 30 will be taking part in rookie camp.

One name that you might not recognize is forward Shawn Bates who last played in the NHL for the Islanders two seasons ago.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sporting News Avalanche Preview

Starting today, The Sporting News will be previewing one team per day. It appears they will start from last place as they kick things off with the Avs.

Read the preview here.

Avs Hire Thibault as Goalie Coach?

According to RDS and Mile High Hockey, the Avs have hired former goaltender Jocelyn Thibault as the team's new goaltending coach. He played 16 seasons in the NHL last in 07-08 with the Nordiques, Avs, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Penguins and Sabres. Thibault was also part of the deal that brought Patrick Roy to Denver.

The Sheriff Calls it Quits

Scott Parker officially announces his retirement after 308 NHL games spanning 11 seasons on the Fox in Denver today. He finished with 7 goals and 14 assists for a whopping 21 points. Best known for his evil stare and crazy goatee, Parks amassed 699 PIMs in his NHL career including 70 fighting majors. Usually only playing 4-5 minutes a night, the Sheriff was counted on to protect the stars and he did his job quite well becoming one of the League's top heavyweights.

This official retirement announcement came almost a year from when Parker had his contract with the Avs terminated because he failed to report to the Lake Erie Monsters last season.

Parker was also a member of the 2001 Cup team.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Foppa sighting

According to TSN, Peter Forsberg played in a preseason game for his hometown team, Modo, last night. Foppa played on the top line and was held scoreless but Modo defeated Geneva 2-1. This is the first (somewhat) meaningful game Forsberg has played since undergoing yet another surgery on his problematic foot.

Forsberg stated that the foot was feeling good but he could not comment on his hockey future. This could be very intriguing news if it is fixed this time. The Avs could definitely use Peter's scoring and leadership. Having a guy like Peter around would work wonders with the young centers Stastny and Duchene. However, with owner Stan Kroenke trying to cut salary and GM Greg Sherman wanting to build with youth, it doesn't appear Forsberg would be in the team's plans.

Another note, Peter is listed on Team Sweden's roster for the Winter Olympics coming up in February. Hopefully it all works out for Peter and best of luck to him in his latest comeback attempt.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Avs 3rd Jersey?

So these beauties are what a poster on Chris Creamer's Sports Logos message board claims will be the Avs next 3rd jersey. He claimed that he saw and took a picture with his camera of the actual jersey but wasn't allowed to share the picture with anyone so he designed one to represent it with Paint. If these are, infact, what the Avs will be wearing as their alternates next season, then it will be okay if they are going to be really bad because they will also look really bad doing it.

Among the things that stand out on here is the same "Colorado" that the Avs used in their last 3rds. I do like the fact that they keep the main logo on the shoulders of the jersey. The stripes on the sleeves look a litte out of place. If they were going to use stripes, it would've been better to bring back the old mountain stripes at the bottom of the jersey. The shade of blue used in this jersey seems to be paying a little hommage to the Quebec Nordiques which is a nice touch. One thing that isn't too noticeable is the "Avalanche" on the back of the collar.

At first sight, these things look horrendous but maybe with some changes to the striping, it could be a pretty nice 3rd. I was a fan of the old 3rds and the Nordique blue color is pretty nice choice so overall, I'd give it a C+.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Which defenseman should be out?

In the deal that saw Ryan Smyth leave to LA, the Avs took back two NHL defensemen in Quincey and Preissing. That brings the total number of NHL defensemen on the Avs roster to 7. The others would be Liles, Hannan, Foote, Clark, and Salei. Also waiting for regular NHL ice time is prospect Kyle Cumiskey.

It has been pretty well known that Avs owner Stan Kroenke is in full cost cutting mode. There is no way that he would want to pay someone like a Brett Clark, Ruslan Salei, or Tom Preissing the money they are making to sit out everynight as the team's 7th defenseman or rot away in the AHL. I believe one of these guys will be dealt before the start of the season. Only question is which one will it be?

-Tom Preissing was brought in mainly as a salary dump for the Kings as we dumped Smyth's loaded contract on them. He is capable of being a pretty solid bottom pairing defenseman and add a little scoring depth to our blue line. The main concern here is his health. He's only played 99 games over the last 2 seasons which could make trading him a little tough.

-Ruslan Salei, when he was acquired from Florida, brought that physical element that the Avs lacked. He also was not afraid to shoot the puck while the rest of our D seemed scared to shoot. It seemed like a full season under Jacques Cloutier's coaching turned him away from his style. With Cloutier out of the picture now, Salei should turn back into what he used to be and play a more physical style. One knock on Salei is that he takes a lot of stupid and lazy penalties. Other teams could see that as a problem but his physical play could prove valuable to a contending team as a nice bottom pairing defenseman.

-Brett Clark was a journeyman between the NHL and AHL until securing a full time spot with the Avs after the lockout. Clark regularly ranks among the top of the league in shot blocking. He is not afraid of sacrificing his body to block a shot. Because of this, though, he often puts himself out of position and gives up a scoring opportunity. He should use his shot blocking skills more in a way to break up a play rather than to just go down so easy to block the shot. If he could work more on staying in defensive position rather than flailing on the ice, he could be used as a good middle pairing defenseman for the Avs or a bottom pairing guy for a contending team.

Out of these three, I would love to keep Preising and Salei around and try to move Clark out. Shot blocking is great to have but not when one guy is attempting it the whole game and giving up valuable scoring opportunities for the opposition.

Sidney Crosby priceless

Oh how that helmet is just so fitting for the boy. Special day for a special boy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Let the Predictions Begin!

So it looks like the first of many predictions are in. The Hockey News began there 2009-10 regular season predictions. No surprise where they predicted the Avs will finish and unlike last season, it's pretty easy to agree with this one.
Why: Some believe Joe Sakic may not have retired if the Colorado Avalanche iced a Stanley Cup-contending team this year. Management’s off-season rebuilding of the roster rendered that option moot – and also severely hampered the Avs’ hopes at a playoff berth. They’ll need at least a couple years to hope to regain past glories.
THN only had the Coyotes finishing worse in the West. They were spot on with this prediction.

The Offseason So Far

We are around the midway point of the NHL's offseason, one that saw many changes go on around the once elite Avalanche organization. Some changes for the better, some not so much. Lets recap.

First, Pierre Lacroix fires Francois Giguere. Under Giguere, the Avs missed the playoffs 2 of 3 seasons. A move that needed to be made as Giguere just seemed like he was just fine with losing not doing anything at the trade deadline last season. One area Giguere actually made some improvements for the team was in the prospect pool where he drafted some promising talent like Kevin Shattenkirk and Cameron Gaunce.

The organization gave itself a bad rap to the rest of the league when a report was leaked out that Pierre Lacroix had been meeting with Patrick Roy where Lacroix had offered the coaching and GM job to Roy. At the time, Tony Granato was still under contract as the head coach. Ultimately, Roy turned the job down to return to coach the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Pretty sure it won't be the last time we'll hear of the organization wanting Roy to be the coach.

Probably the best move of the offseason was the firings of Head Coach Tony Granato, assistants Jacques Cloutier (who has a long history with the club), and Dave Barr. Granato was too much of a players coach who never really instilled a system for the players to buy into. Cloutier was best known for turning our defensemen into non-physical, shot-blocking pylons. Replacing them will be former Lake Erie coach Joe Sacco. His assistants will be former Avs Sylvain Lefebvre and Steve Konowalchuk. Good moves as Sly should be able to re-teach our defensemen how to play physical and Kono should be able to improve our special teams.

That brings us to June 25th where the Avs received their highest draft pick since the team moved to Denver. They used that 3rd pick to take Matt Duchene who was seen by many scouts to be the best all around player in the draft. A 1-2 punch of Paul Stastny and Matty Duchene should be great for the future of the organization. The draft also saw the Avalanche select future 3rd line center, Ryan O'Reilly (33rd), D Stefan Elliot (49th), Tyson Barrie (64th), Goalies Kieran Millan (124th) and Brandon Maxwell (154th), and completed the draft with D Gus Young (184th).

Free agency saw the Avs bolster their goaltending with the addition of UFA Craig Anderson formerly of Florida. This is a signing to get excited about as Anderson has one of the best save % over the past few seasons. Only problem is he's never had a true shot as a number 1. Sadly, Peter Budaj was not only re-signed but also given a pretty nice raise. I guess he'll be good as a back up for Anderson but the raise wasn't deserved. Free agency also saw fav favorite Ian Laperriere leave to sign with the Flyers, Andrew Raycroft sign with Vancouver, and best of all Tyler Arnason sign with the Rangers.

Only days after free agency started, the changes kept rolling in. Ryan Smyth, a guy that gave it his all everynight and played with more heart than almost all players in the league, waived his no-trade clause and was dealt to LA where he will finish his contract with the Kings. Coming back in the deal was a solid potentially #2 defenseman Kyle Quincey, veteran (and somewhat injury plagued) defenseman Tom Preissing and a 5th round pick.

Then a move that changes the whole identity of the Avalanche, captain Joe Sakic decides to hang up his skates after 20 seasons in the League, all with the Quebec/Colorado franchise. Sure, Joe was on the back end of his career and couldn't play a whole season in each of his last 2 seasons but having to see a jersey with a C on it and not see the number 19 on it will take some getting used to. Joe Sakic's jersey will be retired opening night October 1st to the Pepsi Center rafters.

The losses of Sakic, Smyth and Lappy is really going to hurt in the leadership department but there are still some pretty decent vets on the team for leadership roles. Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk will have to step up to take this role next season or maybe one of the young guys (looking at you Mr. Stastny) will step up and begin to lead this team. Whoever wears the C next season is going to have huge shoes to fill.