Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Colby Cohen Shipping Up to Boston

The Avs once again showed they have a pulse as GM Greg Sherman pulled the trigger on another trade today acquiring Matt Hunwick from the Boston Bruins. In exchange, the Avs sent prospect Colby Cohen to Boston where he spent the last 3 years playing for Jack Parker at Boston University.

Hunwick is another small (5'11" 195 lbs) puck moving defenseman which the Avs seem to love seeing as how they have a few of those already on the team and in the minors. He has tallied just 3 points (1G 2A) in 22 games played this season. However, Boston plays a very defensive minded game so the move to Denver could work out very well for him since Joe Sacco loves this up tempo high offense game.

On paper, it seems like a pretty bad trade for the Avs seeing as how Colby Cohen was pretty close to being NHL ready and has that booming shot from the point. There were some questions about his skating ability but those could still be fixed. Hunwick was a salary dump for the Bruins as they are trying to shed salary to get Marc Savard back from a concussion.

Many fans are going nuts about this trade but I'm sure there were things that management saw that we can't see in Cohen's or Hunwick's game. Given our recent trading history (Winnik, Mueller, Porter, O'Byrne), I don't have any reason to feel this will be a bad trade for the Avs.

Jack Edwards of NESN had a great article about Hunwick today. He seems like he's a great fit for the type of player this organization looks for.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A day to give thanks

Today is the American Thanksgiving and I'm sure everyone is set to be with their families to eat turkey and watch some football...err I mean Avs hockey tonight against the Oilers! A few days ago, Mike Verminsky over at Put It On Ice Blog made a post with numerous Avs fans/bloggers and what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here are the things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

I am thankful for Joe Sacco for getting all these young guys playing a very fun to watch style of hockey. While it is very offensive, he still demands the boys be responsible defensively. It's been awhile since we've seen this kind of excitement from the Avs.

I am thankful for injuries because it gave Budaj a chance to gain some more trust from coach Sacco so he can play more and give Andy some more rest. Also, because we have now seen how beastly Kevin Shattenkirk will be for us.

I am also thankful for Peter Budaj playing like he did during Andy's absense. He gave us a chance to win every game he started was a huge reason we sit atop the NW division

Lastly, I'm thankful for Greg Sherman and co. for staying on course with the rebuild despite some tempting free agents that were out there that probably would've set us back a few years *cough*kovalchuk*cough*.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vote for Avs in the All Star Game

Fan balloting for this years All Star Game begins today. The ballot features 3 Avs - Anderson, Stastny, and Hejduk. Head over to http://vote.nhl.com and get some Avs in the game.

While you're at it, write in Chris Stewart who's name, for some reason, was left off the ballot.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts on the O'Byrne deal

As everyone in the hockey world may have heard, the Avs made a trade today with the Canadiens bringing in a monster of a defenseman in Ryan O'Byrne. They gave up prospect Michael Bournival of Shawinigan of the QMJHL. The move wasn't surprising as the Avs defensemen seem to be dropping like flies lately even though Foote should be back soon and they were forced to play with 4 rookies last game.

This is a pretty big deal for the Avs as O'Byrne will bring some much needed size to the back end. At 6'5" 230 pounds, he's the biggest defenseman the Avs have now. From all accounts, he uses his size and likes to hit, he blocks shots, and he's not afraid to drop the gloves. Fans probably shouldn't expect him to put up Mike Green type numbers offensively but he will help solidify the back end with his physical play.

O'Byrne wasn't working out in Montreal. It seems like ever since this goal, the coaches never had the same confidence in him as he never really saw consistent playing time after that. Montreal is no easy city to play in because of the expectations the media and fans put on the players. O'Byrne fell victim to this and the change of scenery could be exactly what he needs. Guillaume Latendresse is a good example of what a move out of Montreal can do for a players confidence.

The loss of Bournival is certainly pretty big as he's starting to make a name for himself and playing himself onto the radar of Canada's World Junior squad. He was drafted this past June in the 3rd round (71st overall) and has put up 24 points for the Cataractes in just 17 games. He wasn't going to make the Avs anytime soon and should be able to be replaced in the upcoming draft.

Joe Sacco said that O'Byrne will be available to play tomorrow night when the Avs head to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Foote will not play and neither will Ryan Wilson who is suffering from a blood clot in his leg.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shattenkirk gets the call

Last season (and the end of the 08-09 season), there was a lot of excitement for me from the Avs because there were players getting their first shot at the NHL level. It was exciting because we finally got to see how our past drafts had worked out. Seeing 1st rounders Chris Stewart and Matt Duchene, 2nd rounders TJ Galiardi and Ryan O'Reilly, and late round guys like David Jones and Brandon Yip have such solid seasons was huge in establishing an identity for this club which it had lacked since the lockout.

This season didnt really look like it was going to have that same kind of excitement. The offensive core was pretty much set. Defense was still going to be old and slow. Goaltending was no question. Well thankfully there were injuries because not only have we already seen and been pleased with Jonas Holøs, but tonight we get to finally see 2007 1st round pick Kevin Shattenkirk.

Shattenkirk got the call yesterday and got word from coach Joe Sacco that he would receive a jersey for tonight in a big game against division leader Vancouver. Like we've been seeing recently, Sacco will go with 7 defensemen. Sacco also said Shattenkirk will play on the 2nd PP unit.

Shattenkirk was drafted to be a PP quarterback and he was great at it while playing for Boston University. While having not recorded a point yet this season with Lake Erie, he has been getting better all around as the season has progressed. Lets hope his PP magic will finally come around while he's up with the Avs.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Avs open preseason with a W

The Avs (well half of them anyway) opened up their 2010 preseason schedule tonight with a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. There was no video feed of the game but thanks to some Blues fan, there was audio for those of us who weren't lucky enough to live in Denver.

The Avs were without their top 2 centers Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene and scoring wingers Milan Hejduk, Chris Stewart and Peter Mueller. They did get a healthy David Jones back after his knee injury last season. Jones contributed in a big way scoring a goal that ended up being the game winner. Rookies Kevin Shattenkirk, Colby Cohen and 2010 5th rounder Luke (sky)Walker made their Avalanche debuts as well. Shattenkirk scored the opening goal and Walker put the Avs up 3-1 just 30 seconds after Jones' goal.

All the offense came against the goalie who shut down Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in the playoffs last season, Jaroslav Halak. Halak played the whole game and stopped 15 of 18 Av shots. Peter Budaj started the game for the Avs. He played half the game and stopped 9-10 shots while Trevor Cann came in for Budaj and played a very solid game stopping all 24 shots fired on him.

The Avs play again tomorrow night at the Pepsi Center against the Kings. I'd bet good money on Craig Anderson getting his 1st start of the preseason as well as some offensive help of Stastny, Duchene, Hejduk, Stewart and Mueller.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Avs and Mueller Finally Reach Agreement

Just about one week before training camp is set to begin, the Avs and restricted free agent Peter Mueller have finally come to terms on a new 2 year deal worth $4 million. Mueller will get $1.5 million next season and $2.5 million in 2011-12. Not a bad value for Mueller especially since the Avs were still under the salary cap floor - the only team that was still that far down.

Mueller only had 37 points last season with the Coyotes and the Avs but 20 of those points came in the 15 games he played after he was dealt to the Avs at the trade deadline. He was a major reason why the power play started picking it up at the end of the year as he was able to get off quality shots and scoring chances from the right point (something the defensemen were unable to do).

His point total after coming to Colorado probably had him thinking huge pay day but that last concussion he received after being put into the boards by Rob Blake had something to do with the lower salary. He missed the entire playoff series with the Sharks with that concussion and it was his 2nd concussion in his young career. The 2 years he received is a fair contract as it will give him enough time to show that he can stay consistent and injury free before being paid the big bucks.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stewart re-signed for 2 more years

After an offseason that made me wonder if the Avs had a pulse, some good news finally rolled in. They came to terms on a new 2 year deal with last season's leading goal scorer Chris Stewart. The deal is worth $5.75 million over the 2 years with a cap hit of $2.875 million. He will make $2.5 million next season and $3.25 million in 11-12.

This seems like a great deal for both the Avs and Stewart. The money is less than I expected the Avs to give him and it gives Stewie 2 more years for him to show that last season's 28 goal campaign was no fluke.

With Stewart signed, the Avs can now focus on getting the other RFA, Peter Mueller, signed. Mueller's signing should put the Avs over the cap floor, which they are around $1 million away from. Training camp is still 2 weeks away but hopefully a deal will be worked out sooner rather than later.
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hall out, Hishon in

The 1st selection in this past NHL Entry Draft, Taylor Hall, will not be participating in Team Canada's World Junior Development camp. The camp will be held August 4-7. Since Hall will not be participating in camp, and given the fact that he will most likely be playing in Edmonton this season, he will not be eligible to play for Team Canada during the tournament.

With the departure of Hall, Hockey Canada had to fill his spot with another forward. They chose to go with Avs 1st round pick from this past draft, Joey Hishon. Not too bad for a fellow that no one seemed to have heard about when he was taken in the 1st round eh? Hishon will be one of 25 forwards hoping to make Team Canada.

Hishon will not be the only Avs prospect taking part in the camp. Fellow 2010 draft pick, Calvin Pickard, will be one of 4 goaltenders trying to make the squad. On defense, 2009 draftees Stefan Eliot and Tyson Barrie will be battling it out with 16 other defensemen. It will be fun to see how the Avs future stars do in camp and hopefully they will make the team.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Avs sign Yip and FA Ben Walter

Adrian Dater is reporting that the Avs have come to terms with restricted free agent forward Brandon Yip. The deal is for 2 years. Yip will make $700k this season and $750k in 2011-12 for a cap hit of $1.45 million. I figured Yip would've received more than that since the Avs have a ways to go to reach the cap floor but I guess they'll get to that after Peter Mueller and Chris Stewart get signed.

The Avs also announced they have signed forward Ben Walter from the NJ Devils. He spent last season with the Lowell Devils where he had 58 points (22G 36A) in 78 games. I figure this to be another depth signing for Lake Erie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Avs start free agency as planned and a few other recent happenings

Getting pretty deep into day 1 of the NHL's free agency period. July 1st is more than just a holiday in Canada (Happy Canada Day to our neighbors to the north). For most GMs and fans, it is like Christmas for their teams, or Hanukkah since that lasts longer. The Avs, however, are choosing to sit on the sidelines this offseason and stick to their plan of building from within.

Personally, I love that the Avs are sticking to their guns and not being active in free agency to find a quick fix. Judging by some of the contracts being handed out to some of the players, I'm glad that Greg Sherman was smart enough to stay away. Seriously, a 36 year old Sergei Gonchar is going to get paid $5.5 million per season for the next 3 years. Dan Hamhuis is set to get $4.5 million for the next 6 years. Hell, even Derek Boogaard will be getting $1.6 million per year for the next 4 years. That's 1.6 million more than he's worth!

The biggest fish in the free agent sea, Ilya Kovalchuk, is still yet to be signed. It was rumored that the Devils have backed out and the Kings are the only team that are still in the running for Ilya's services. Some were saying that he is asking for more money than anyone wants to pay (shocker, I know). If the Kings do land him, I'd be curious to see how they handle the situation when Doughty, Johnson and the rest of their young talent is ready for new contracts. They are already paying Ryan Smyth over $6 million as well as Anze Kopitar. That is the exact reason I wanted the Avs to stay as far away from Kovalchuk as possible.

The Avs have a strong nucleus up front and if their young defensive prospects live up to their potential, they won't be needing any high priced free agents. The goaltending department also seems to be set as Craig Anderson presumably should build upon his breakout season as well as the Avs finally adding some much needed goalie depth in the prospect pipeline.

Draft Thoughts

Speaking of the draft, that is where they added this goalie depth. The Avs picked up the 1st or 2nd ranked (depending on who you ask) North American goalie, Calvin Pickard (2nd rd), and the top ranked European goalie, Sami Aittokallio (4th rd). Both of these guys are ones to be excited about.

The decision to take Joey Hishon with their 1st round pick was definitely a shocker to me considering there were still big wingers available like Austin Watson and Emerson Etem. After the steam wore off and I read a little more on Hishon, I really like the pick. He started the season ranked in the top 10 and it was only because of injuries that he fell out of the top 30. Despite the injuries, he still managed 40 points in 36 games. Also, in 08-09, he scored more points that our very own Matt Duchene in the same league all while playing on a worse team.

The other part of the draft that made it a tremendous win for the franchise was they were still able to find some potential steals in the later rounds. Guys like Pickard (2nd rd), Stephen Silas (4th rd) and Troy Rutkowski (5th rd) all could've gone in the earlier rounds but were still available when the Avs selected. Some had Silas and Rutkowski going possibly as high as the late 2nd round. I'd give the Avs a solid B+ on this one.

RFAs still unsigned

The Avs have tendered qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents that matter (sorry Wes O'Neil but you don't matter). Just because the QOs are already in, doesn't guarantee that these players will still be with the Avs next season. Chris Stewart, Peter Mueller and Kyle Quincey are all guys that other teams could target with offer sheets. Given how bad the depth is in this year's free agent market, teams may look to poaching RFAs away from other teams however, the Avs have plenty of cap space so any offer these guys receive will most likely be matched by the Avs.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Uwe Krupp to join Avs coaching staff?

German newspaper Sueddeutsche has reported that former Avs defenseman and current head coach of Germany's national team Uwe Krupp will make the jump to North America and possibly join the Avs coaching staff. Here is the translated excerpt from the article:
But the signs are quite a bit to leave. Confidant of the 44-year-olds say, Krupp wanted to go back to North America. Either as an assistant coach for the NHL club Colorado Avalanche, with whom he won the only German so far as the 1996 Stanley Cup. Or as a coach in the AHL lower division to get there to apply for a position in the strongest league in the world.
Not sure where he would fit in behind the bench as Sylvain Lefebvre and Steve Konowalchuk aren't going anywhere. Maybe they would have him join Lake Erie's coaching staff. Obviously, it's also possible he won't join the Avs or Monsters but it's always nice to speculate.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Now this team is done

A few weeks ago after a few losses in a row, I mentioned that the Avs were finished and would not make the playoffs. They ended up making it and so far have played the top ranked Sharks all the way up to a 6th game that will be played tomorrow night in Denver.

The Avs have been outplayed in all but 1 game this series and that was game 1. Since then, they've let the Sharks control the play in the Avs' end and the Sharks have dominated in the shots on goal totals. A lot of this is due to the fact that the penalties are heavily favoring the Sharks. Before the 3rd period of last nights game it was 21-10 advantage to the Sharks in penalties. Not only that but the Avs are missing 2 of their top goal scoring wingers in Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller. When you mix horrible officiating with key injuries theres bound to be a performance like the one displayed last night.

Game 6 doesnt look too good for the boys either. It appears that the offense has hit a wall scoring just 2 goals in the last 3 games in regulation. Hejduk is not playing again tomorrow and Mueller is doubtful. I still see no reason why David Jones has not received any playing time despite practicing with the team over the last few weeks. Players from all other teams play injured during the playoffs but no one from our team will man up and play through it.

Without those 3, the top line being invisible, and the rookies hitting a wall finally, game 6 is pretty much a gimme for the Sharks. The Avs can start looking forward to next season.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Avs Gearing Up for the Playoffs

Almost 2 weeks after declaring that the Avs were finished, they find themselves getting ready for the playoffs. Puck drop of game 1 is less than 2 hours away in San Jose. The Avs stumbled their way into the playoffs winning just 3 of their final 13 games. Had it not been for their great play early on in the season, we would not even be talking about playoffs right now.

The 8th seeded Avs get the pleasure of taking on the top seeded team in the West, San Jose Sharks. Just about all of the experts are expecting the Sharks to dispose of the Avs rather quickly. You'd think they would've learned their lessons after the Avs were supposed to finish 30th in the league. Cant blame them though, as the Avs didn't do too much down the stretch to make anyone think they would be worthy of being in the playoffs at all.

While the Sharks are the favorite to win the series, they shouldn't take the Avs lightly (see Opening Night). The Avs are a faster team than the Sharks so that is a huge advantage for the Avs. While most of the guys on the team are making their post season debuts, the veteran guys (Foote, Yelle, Hejduk, and Hannan) bring a lot of playoff experience to the table including 5 Stanley Cups between them.

The keys for the Avs to make some noise in this series, will be special teams and the play of Craig Anderson. The Sharks ranked in the top 10 in both penalty kill and power play. The Avs will have to stay disciplined and find a way to score on the power play without Peter Mueller. Andy hasn't been as sharp as he was earlier in the season so he will have to elevate his game in his playoff debut. Hopefully the D will be able to give him a little help.

On the injury front, almost everyone is healthy finally. Rookie Matt Duchene will be back in the lineup tonight after sitting out the last game of the season with a torso injury. David Jones has been skating with the team for a few weeks now and is just about ready to go. He is traveling with the team for games 1 and 2 and could possibly get a jersey in game 2. Peter Mueller, who sustained a concussion against these Sharks, will not join the team in San Jose and is questionable for game 3 also. Hopefully he'll be back at some point in the series.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

This Team is Done

The title says it all. The Avs showed tonight that they really do not care about going to the playoffs. Again, they waited until the last 10 minutes to play and a 2 goal deficit to play with any kind of desperation. Not the kind of play that will get a team to the playoffs.

After a somewhat even 1st period where the Avs outshot the Flames 13-9, the Avs came out flat for the next 30 minutes. The whole 2nd period was spent in their zone and the Flames ended up capitalizing on one of their chances when the Avs were caught in a line change. Nigel Dawes got the feed from David Moss on the 2 on 1 and put it high glove on Anderson who was sliding over from the other side of the net.

In the first part of the 3rd, there was no difference from the 2nd period. The Flames held the Avs in their own zone. Just over 2 minutes into the period, the Flames made it a 2-0 game. The Avalanche killer, Rene Bourque, tipped a shot from the point by Cory Sarich past Craig Anderson.

The top line of Stewart, Stastny and Galiardi finally decided to show up to the game a little under 8 minutes into the 3rd. They put together a great shift down low that ended in Galiardi taking a feed from the side of the net by Stewart and banging it in past Kiprusoff. It would be all Avs the rest of the way as Calgary was just chipping it out of the zone every chance they got. Kiprusoff made all the big saves he had to.

That would be all the offense the Avs would be able to muster up. Calgary did a good job of keeping out of the penalty box as they only gave the Avs 1 powerplay that was a failure. The Avs PK was much improved tonight killing all 3 of its opportunities. Ryan O'Reilly deserves a lot of credit as he and the rest of his line were the best players for the Avs the whole night.

Right now the two teams are tied at 89 points for the last spot in the west but the Avs still have a game in hand and also hold the tiebreaker in case they end up with the same amount of points. Statistically the Avs still have the upper hand and both teams have pretty tough schedules. They both have games against Chicago, San Jose, and Vancouver. The Avs also have Oilers and Kings while the Flames also have Minnesota. Assuming Calgary wins out, the Avs would have to win 4 of those games. Not an easy task.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Game of the Year

Only 2 points separate the Avs and the Flames for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West so it's not too out of reach to say that this is the biggest game of the year for the Avs. The Avs have a game in hand and the tiebreaker over Calgary, however, it is my opinion (and many people in the media feel the same way) that the winner of this game will end up finishing with that last playoff spot.

Lately the Avs just seem like the team that was supposed to finish at the bottom of the league. Since the last game against Calgary on March 17 (a 3-2 loss), the Avs have gone just 1-4-1 and have been outscored in that stretch 27-16. Nothing has been going their way in that stretch. The PK has been terrible. The defense has been non existent. Shooters are missing the net all together. And the most important of all, Anderson has not been giving us the goaltending we need.

It's really showing that Andy has played in too many games this season and is just mentally exhausted. Sacco should've given Budaj more chances throughout the season so this could be avoided but cant go back in time now so Sacco and the boys can all look ahead to tonight's game.

Anderson will get the start again for the Avs and he will most likely be squaring off against Miika Kiprusoff. The Avs have beat the Flames all 4 times they have started Kiprusoff so that is something to be excited about. Last game the Flames went with backup Vesa Toskala who led Calgary to victory. All 5 games so far have ended in 3-2 scores so we should expect another close one tonight.

Some good news for the Avs is that they will be getting Stephane Yelle and Brandon Yip back. Yelle will provide a huge boost for the PK that has been so awful lately and Yip's energy and offense will provide a spark up front. David Koci has also been cleared to play and he's expected to be in the lineup as well. More good news on the injury front is that David Jones is expected to take part in full practices next week so, should we make the playoffs, he would be available then.

Sacco has also started answering Avs fans prayers on who he's playing on defense tonight. Kyle Quincey and John Michael Liles will both be in while Ruslan Salei and Brett Clark will be the odd men out (thank god).

The Flames come in winning 4 of their last 7. Neither team has an easy schedule down the stretch either so that also adds to the importance of the 2 points tonight.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stewart leads Avs over Blues

The Avs offense was out in full force tonight as they matched and then raised by 1 a season high with 7 goals. While the whole team put up a great offensive effort, the biggest individual performance came from Chris Stewart. Stewart finished the game with 4 points including his 1st career hat trick. The game also marked the return of Milan Hejduk after his long

The Blues came in winners of 5 straight and the last time they lost was against the Avalanche back on February 8th. St. Louis got on the board first as a point shot was tipped by David Perron in the slot past Anderson. It didn't take long for the Avs to answer as Milan Hejduk put home his own rebound as Peter Mueller sent a nice pass from the point to the net where Hejduk got to. Shortly after that, great hustle by Galiardi and Stastny lead to Stewarts first goal of the game. Blues defenesman Erik Johnson went behind the net and TJ Galiardi laid a hit on the boards. Stastny picked it up behind the net and centered out to Stewart in front of the net who then tapped it home.

The Avs took that 2-1 lead to the intermission and came out flying in the 2nd. Less than a minute into the period, Stewart got a pass up the right side. He took it along the boards into the zone and fired a laser of a slapshot to the far post for his 2nd of the game. Not even 30 seconds later, Hejduk came up the right side and centered a pass to Adam Foote who was going to the net but the puck deflected off the Blues defensman's skate past Mason. Mason was then pulled and replaced by Ty Conklin. Different goalie, same result as Chris Stewart picks up his 3rd point on an assist to TJ Galiardi in the slot on a backhand past Conklin. Later in the period, Anderson misplayed the puck behind the net and Alex Steen picked it up in front and banged it in the open net. The scoring in the 2nd period didn't stop as Stewart was tripped on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. He didn't waste the opportunity and roofed a shot over Conklin's left shoulder finishing off the hat trick.

The 3rd period was the Avs worst period as the puck was in their zone the whole time it seemed. Instead of keeping the foot on the gas, the Avs went into that shell they do when they have a lead. It only lead to 1 goal this time as Steen tipped another shot past Anderson. Matt Hendricks put the icing on the cake poking the puck into the empty net to make it 7-3 Avs.

This was a nice bounce back game for the Avs after that dagger to the heart by Wolski and the Coyotes two nights before. Getting Milan Hejduk back was a huge boost to the Avs offense and it it appeared he didn't lose a step as he added 2 goals. TJ Galiardi also had a strong game. This is a guy who has moved up in the depth chart taking the number 1 left wing spot even when Wolski was still here. He is leading all rookies in ice time per game as well. He made the play of the game as he put pressure on the Blues D and laid a hit on Erik Johnson behind the net that started the play that resulted in Stewart's 1st goal. Speaking of Stewart, he was the star of this game. Three goals and one assist. His hat trick was the 1st for an Avs player since Hejduk against these Blues back in 2007. He now has 15 points in his last 8 games.

The newcomers also both got on the score card. Peter Mueller finished with 2 assists, one on Hejduk's 1st goal and another on Hejduk's 2nd. He has at least a point in every game in an Avs sweater. Stephane Yelle recorded an assist on Hendricks' empty net goal.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Avs Deadline Preview

With the Olympics now over, the NHL teams, players and fans are waiting for today's 3:00 eastern trade deadline. We've all heard names being thrown around all season but let's take a look at what the Avs have on the trading block.

JM Liles - There's no denying it, Liles has been in Joe Sacco's doghouse since he returned from his injury earlier this season. He can be an effective power play quarterback but has lost that form in Denver. With Jordan Leopold fetching a 2nd round pick yesterday, it's safe to assume that Liles could fetch at least a prospect and a pick. Only thing that might stop a trade is his contract which still has 2 years left at 4.2 million.

Ruslan Salei - He hasn't been in the lineup much this season (3 games) due to injury but in the 2 he's played since he's come back, he has been pretty good. Salei was also the captain for Team Belarus in the Olympics and logged more ice time than anyone else on that team. Also a former deadline deal for the Avs, he's starting to play like he did when he came over from Florida. He can hit and he can put pucks on the net plus he's a free agent after this season. He could fetch a 2nd or 3rd round pick or a prospect from a team needing defensive depth.

Brett Clark - With the logjam the Avs have at D, Clark might be the easiest to trade and has the most trade value of him, Liles and Salei. He's played more than Salei and doesnt have the terrible contract Liles has. He can bring a contender tremendous shot blocking which we've seen since he's been with the Avs. I would be happy with a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him.

Marek Svatos - It's pretty obvious that Svatos has no place on this team anymore. He hasn't been scoring like he did in his rookie year since his rookie year. If he starts scoring, he gets injured. If he doesn't get injured, he doesn't score. It's not like he's helping in the defensive side of the puck either. He has just 10 points in 44 games this season and is a team worst -11. Maybe a change of scenery will help his career but I can't see a team giving up more than a late round draft pick for him.

Wojtek Wolski - This name just started floating around last night by TSN's Bob Mckenzie via his twitter account. Like Liles, Wolski has also found his way into Joe Sacco's doghouse throughout the season. He was awful against the Wings on Monday night being held shotless and, as Dater pointed out in his blog, only has 4 power play goals in his last 150 games. He does have a lot of offensive potential and will blossom into a star in this league if and when he can find consistency in his game. He's still young at just 24 so there's still time for him to develop and it doesn't hurt that he's an RFA after this season. I could see a team giving up a 2nd round pick and a prospect or a current roster player and a later round pick for Wolski's services.

With all that said, there are still holes in the Avs roster. Trading Wolski would surely leave an even bigger hole at LW than they already have. The power play has been terrible as well so that needs to be addressed too. It is sure to be a crazy day throughout the entire league but hopefully the Avs make some deals that will help beyond this season. I really like that Greg Sherman is not even thinking about trading a Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly or anyone else out of the youth core.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Avs retake NW lead

The Avs survived a disastrous 2nd period and Kyle Cumiskey provided the game winner for the Avs in overtime as they beat the Kovalchukless Atlanta Thrashers 4-3. With the win, the Avs move into sole possession of 1st place in the Northwest division with a 2 point cushion on the Canucks. The game also marked the 1st game of the season for Darren Haydar, the AHL superstar who was recalled because of the injury to David Koci.

Haydar didn't factor in the scoresheet but who can blame him as he was on a line with Darcy Tucker. Atlanta started the scoring in the 1st period as newcomer Niclas Bergfors who used his speed to move into the Avs zone and fire a shot past Anderson. Bergfors was one of the players involved in the deal that sent superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils.

Just 46 seconds after Bergfors scored, the Avs answered. They skated into the zone and Paul Stastny gave a cross ice pass to Brett Clark who looked like he was trying to make another pass but instead the puck ended up in the back of the net. That shot knotted the game up at 1 a piece.

In the 2nd period, the Avs looked like they didn't want to be part of the game. The Thrashers tilted the ice and made everything difficult for the Avs. Bryan Little took advantage of a poorly played puck by Craig Anderson and fired a puck right between Andy's legs. It was almost 3-1 with just over 2 minutes left in the 2nd as Atlanta thought they poked the puck past Anderson but replay confirmed that Adam Foote cleared the puck out before the puck crossed the line.

Whatever Sacco told the team during the intermission must not have gotten through to them as they started the 3rd period with as little fire as they had in the 2nd. Then, something turned on and the top line of Stewart, Stastny and Galiardi had a great shift that was capped off with a goal by Stewart with just over 11 minutes left. This goal would give the Avs life. They carried the play the rest of the game. In another hard working shift later in the period by Cody McLeod and Chris Durno, they held the puck in the zone and wore down the Thrashers. A shot from the point was kicked wide by Johan Hedberg and Durno dove to bat the puck into the open net to tie it up.

It would remain tied at the end of regulation so the Avs would receive a point for going to OT. That point would be enough to move them past Vancouver into 1st in the Northwest. But why settle with just 1 point when there's a 2nd to be had? Kyle Cumiskey answered that just 9 seconds into the extra frame. He carried the puck into the zone and wiggled through 4 Atlanta players and made pretty move past Hedberg to give the Avs the win. It was a perfect end to a game which the Avs had no business winning and should be all over the highlights tonight.

The 2nd period was one that the Avs really cannot afford to have against teams that are more skilled than the Thrashers. If this was a team like Chicago or San Jose, it would've been 5 or 6 to 1 after that period. The other thing that really needs fixing (and has all season) is the power play. They went 0-for again this time 0-5. There is simply too much passing going on between the guys on the PP. Someone has to just shoot the puck. It's the only way the PP will be effective.

Interesting stat of the night:
Niclas Bergfors recorded his 2nd goal since coming over to Atlanta from New Jersey. Kovalchuk has yet to record one in NJ.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts on Kovalchuk

So it has been made public that the Atlanta Thrashers have let superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk and his agent know that they will be looking for a trade instead of re-signing him. Many teams in the league have been rumored to be in the running to land the Russian sniper but could the Avs be one of the possible destinations for Ilya? It's fun to wonder.

The Thrashers have said that they would want a top 6 forward, top 4 defenseman and a top notch prospect or high end draft pick. If I was Greg Sherman, I would consider sending the following package:

Wojtek Wolski: He had been in and out of Joe Sacco's doghouse in the early parts of the season but his strong showings on the team's top line through December and January have really increased his trade value. Kovalchuk would be a definite upgrade over Wolski as well.

John Michael Liles: Like Wolski, Liles found himself in Sacco's doghouse a few weeks ago. He was benched for a game and responded well with 9 points in the next 10 games. He's a capable power play QB as he was a huge reason why the PP was so hot early in the season up until his injury. The PP fell to the bottom of the league in his absence but has risen to 18th as he is getting healthier. Losing Liles would hurt the PP but the offensive talent of Kovalchuk would make up for it.

Tyson Barrie: Avs prospect drafted in 2009 (3rd round 64th overall). His 59 points leads his Kelowna Rockets' (WHL) club and also puts him in a tie for 1st in defensive scoring leaders in the WHL.

The big problem with acquiring Kovalchuk is whether he will re-sign with the club or if he will just be a playoff rental. As far as a draft pick going Atlanta's way goes, it would have to be conditional on whether or not he signs with the Avs. The Avs have the cap space to get Kovalchuk under contract especially after giving up Wolski and Liles' contracts. He has already turned down $120 million from Atlanta but that just seems to be him not wanting to be there anymore. Put him on a young, up and coming team, and his price tag should drop. It is a lot to give up on what could just be a rental for a few months but his offense would be a huge help down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Avs win fifth straight

Matt Duchene, Brandon Yip and the rest of the burgundy bunch squeezed off their fifth straight victory as they edged out the Nashville Predators 2-1. It is the 1st time the team has won 5 in a row since October of the 2008-09 season.

Leading the charge offensively for the Avs was the rookies Matt Duchene and Brandon Yip. Duchene opened the scoring in the 1st period with another 5 on 3 PP goal. John Michael Liles made an aerial feed from the left point to Paul Stastny at the side of the net who made a nice play to bat the puck out of the air and then gave a little pass right on the stick of Duchene for an easy tap in. Duchene still leads all rookies in scoring. In the 2nd period, Yip struck, again on the PP. Darcy Tucker and recently called up Ryan Stoa made a nice give and go play where Tucker ended up with the puck. Tucker then gave a cross crease feed to Yip under the sliding Nashville defenseman for another tap in at the post. Cody Franson got the lone Nashville goal on a slapper from the left circle shortly after Yip's goal.

The Avs played again without captain Adam Foote (ankle), Ryan Wilson (concussion), Milan Hejduk (knee), and Matt Hendricks (ankle). Because of the injuries, the Avs called up D Wes O'Neil, W Ryan Stoa, and D Brett Skinner from the Lake Erie Monsters. Skinner was the healthy scratch while O'Neil and Stoa received jerseys for the game.

Three Stars
3. C. Franson
2. B. Yip
1. M. Duchene.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Duchene vs. Tavares

Tonight will be the first and only time this season that the top 2 forwards taken in the 09 draft will face each other. Matt Duchene and number 1 pick John Tavares go head to head tonight when the New York Islanders make a rare visit to Denver to take on the Avs.

Should be an interesting matchup between the skilled 18 year olds. Tavares is leading all rookies in goals scored and points but right behind him is Matt Duchene. Tavares is at 28 points on the season and Duchene just a point behind with 27. Both players are headed in opposite directions as Tavares has just 1 goal in his last 11 games while Duchene has been on fire with 17 points over his last 18 games.

Andy will be in net tonight for the Avs while the Isles will go with longtime division rival Dwayne Roloson. Backing up Roloson for the 1st time will be former number 1 pick Rick DiPietro. Hopefully the Avs will get to face him at some point tonight.