Friday, June 17, 2011

Vokoun interested in Avs?

Last week, I mentioned the Avs best option for a goalie would be Tomas Vokoun as he would only cost money and be a perfect stopgap until one of the prospects like Calvin Pickard or Sami Aittokallio are ready. Well it's sounding like Vokoun would be willing to accept an offer from the Avs. He told a Czech newspaper that he would accept an offer from the Avalanche and that he feels that they are close to contending for the Cup. Interesting stuff since most fans feel the team is still 3-5 years away from seriously contending.

Dater wrote tonight that GM Greg Sherman seemed pretty confident that the team will upgrade it's goaltending through free agency. Hopefully there isn't any tampering going on as that would leave a huge black eye on the organization who doesn't really need any more bad press coming off the worst season in Avalanche history. July 1 can't come soon enough.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Tale of Two Luongos

When this Stanley Cup Final began, I was saying that the goaltending would be the best part about this series. In games 1 and 2, that was the case with Thomas and Luongo letting in a combined 6 goals on 133 shots. Since then though, Tim Thomas has been the only guy looking like a Cup finalist and Vezina candidate.

Luongo gave up all 8 goals in game 3's 8-1 loss (seriously, why wasn't he pulled?) and 4 more last night before being pulled. Roberto Luongo was the better goalie in games 1 and 2 and looked really focused, making great saves in those games. When the plane landed in Boston, the wheels fell off. He has now surrendered 12 goals in the last 2 games and some of the goals that have gone in have been really weak including a couple that he actually got a glove on.

Game 5 is going to be a very huge game for Luongo. If he falters again, the Bruins will have a chance to hoist the Cup in front of their home fans. All the momentum is in the Bruins favor and Luongo is looking like a goalie that has lost all confidence.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Goaltending Options

There's no denying that the Avs biggest weakness heading into next season is goaltending. Peter Budaj's days with the team are all but over as he won't be re-signed and Brian Elliott is a RFA who will more than likely return in a back up role next season. This leaves a hole in the starting position. The free agent pool is slim with little high end talent and now that Ilya Bryzgalov looks like he'll be off the market, the list is smaller.

The names that keep floating around are the young up and coming goalies from other teams, Jonathan Bernier from LA and Cory Schneider from Vancouver. That #11 pick in the draft would more than likely have to be sent off to acquire one of them so I don't see the Avs going in that direction listening to them say how important this draft is with those 2 high picks.

Back to free agents, Tomas Vokoun is looking like the best option for the team. He is 34 years old but could still could have about 3-4 good years left in him. He keeps putting up good numbers on pretty bad Florida Panthers teams having around a .920 save % every season in Florida. He would serve as a good stop gap until a Calvin Pickard would be ready to take the reigns assuming he develops as advertised.

Bryzgalov, although his rights were just acquired by the Flyers yesterday, is a possibility to still be out there come July 1. The Flyers will have to move out some cap space before signing Bryzgalov to a deal. It was rumored that Bryzgalov wanted $25 million over 4 years from Phoenix and the Flyers only would have around $4 million cap space, assuming the cap goes up to $63 million, with just 18 players signed not including Ville Leino who they would like to keep. Even if Bryz is still out there July 1, that price tag is not worth it and the Avs likely wouldn't give out that much coin anyway.

JS Giguere is also out there. Like Vokoun, he is 34 years old but unlike Vokoun, he hasn't maintained consistent numbers. Dwayne Roloson will probably re-sign in Tampa if he decides to play next season given the season they just had with him in net. If not, he's still 41 years old so probably wouldn't be good for more than a year. Josh Harding from Minnesota is an interesting one. He looked like a young promising goalie before missing most of last season with an injury. It may have been playing in Jacques Lemaire's defensive system that made him look better but I could see the Avs giving him a chance like they did with Craig Anderson. He's only 26 still too so just going into his prime.

Hearing Joe Sakic and Greg Sherman talk about goaltending being a big focus makes me feel a little optimistic that they might actually fork out some money to fix that hole. Would they go over $6 million for Bryzgalov? Probably not. But a guy like Vokoun for $4-5 million I could see them doing. Goalie is the one position you can't go cheap on as Philly found out this season so it'll be interesting to see how the Avs handle this one.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

4 For Rome

Very rarely does a league suspension ever strike me as too long but that is exactly how I feel about the Aaron Rome suspension. The hit was a good hockey hit that just happened a little late. Had the hit happened a second sooner, there wouldn't be anyone even talking about a suspension.

This suspension could last into next season if the series doesn't go to 7 games. Ridiculous for a hit that was only a second from being a legal hit.

As for the game, I loved seeing the Bruins come out in the 2nd and 3rd and rally for their fallen teammate, who by the way will miss the rest of the season. More feel good stuff, in a game where 7 different Bruins scored a goal, it was the ageless Mark Recchi who potted 2.  Truly a great story there. Right now all the momentum is in the B's favor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Draft Thoughts

Due to the building not being available, we're forced to wait an extra day between game 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. So what else is happening in the hockey world today? The scouting combine. With the draft less than a month away, the top prospects are going through rigorous fitness tests and interviews with NHL teams.

This is going to be an important draft for the Avs since they have 2 1st rounders. Joe Sakic, Greg Sherman and the Avs scouting staff more than likely know who they're taking with the picks already.

I know the Avs will probably just go the best player available route and I fully support that philosophy but I just hope they get 1 forward and 1 defenseman with those 2 picks. If I were the Avs, I'd look to Adam Larsson with the 2nd pick then Mika Zibanejad or Joel Arnia with the 11th pick. If Larsson goes 1st then the Avs would have a choice of some other great players. In that case, I'd be happy with Jonathan Huberdeau or Gabriel Landeskog at 2 then grabbing the giant Jamie Oleksiak at 11. Whatever happens, the Avs will have 2 great players in the near future.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What a Game

Game 1 last night had just about everything a hockey fan could want in a Stanley Cup Finals game. Brilliant plays made by both teams, exciting back and forth action, a lot of shots (70) and hits (61), a dive by Henrik Sedin who fell to the ice like he had just been shot after being touched by a Bruins player, and Alex Burrows biting someone.

I wrote yesterday that this is one of the best goaltending matchups in the Finals since 01 and game 1 showed why. If 1-0 games are supposed to be boring, well Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo didn't get the message. Luongo stopped all 36 shots he faced while Thomas stopped 33 of 34. These 2 set the tone for what should be an exciting series.

Just about everyone is picking Vancouver to win this series, myself included. Many also have said that it will probably be an easy series for the Canucks. Last night showed that wont be the case. I think Boston showed that they are capable of hanging with Vancouver and still stand by that 7 game prediction I made.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Thrashers leaving means to Avs; SCF predictions

So unless you're living under a rock, you should've heard that the Atlanta Thrashers are relocating to Winnipeg next season giving Jets fans a team to cheer for again. According to Gary Bettman, the new Winnipeg team (which is yet to be named) will play next season in the Southeast division before moving to the Northwest division in the 2012-13 season.

The Northwest makes the most sense for the team to play in as they would be grouped with the other western Canadian teams. Obviously some western conference team would be forced to move east. There have been rumblings that Nashville would be moved to the east and play in the SE. I have also heard come people say that Columbus or Detroit could be moved east. That would also mean that one of the Wild or Avs would be booted out of the NW. Here's how I think the divisions should be realigned (teams in bold are the changes):

NW - Cgy, Col, Edm, Van, Wpg
Pacific - Ana, Dal, LA, Pho, SJ
Central - Chi, Clb, Det, Min, Stl
SE - Car, Fla, Nsh, TB, Wsh
NE - Bos, Buf, Mtl, Ott, Tor
Atlantic - NJ, NYI, NYR, Phi, Pit


Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight and if there is one team I'd hate to see win the Cup, it is Vancouver. I do believe that Vancouver has the edge in offense, defense and special teams however, I think the most even category in this series is between the pipes. This is probably the best goalie matchup that the Finals has produced since Roy and Brodeur went head to head in 01. This season's Vezina favorite, Tim Thomas, is very capable of stealing games and even series.

I would love to see Thomas, Chara and the B's hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, however, I believe that it will be Vancover in 7.

Should be a great series.