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.