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.