It sorta bugs me on a fundamental level that this is my first 'legit' post as a contributor to this fine establishment. A glance at the standings by anybody that hasn't seen the last 8 or 9 games would reveal that the Avs have regained some of the dominance that was a given for the franchise prior to the lockout. For those of us that have actually watched the train wreck unfold lately, it is a different feeling entirely. I lay ALL the blame for the recent stretch on the coaching staff, particularly the head honcho, Joey Quenneville.
Anybody that watches hockey knows that over the course of an eighty-two game season, consistency wins games. Even great teams will hit speed bumps and maybe even have a rough stretch, but true championship teams (or even legit playoff contenders) don't get bogged down in losses or stray too far from the systems and game plans they've used to success. There is no panic and these teams plug away and right the ship.
Not so with the '07-'08 Colorado Avalanche. Let us count the inconsistencies:
- The Avs blew out of the gate with a dominant offense, but the line combos that worked so well for the first handful of games were quickly scrapped at the first hiccup. The remainder of the 1st quarter of the season has seen line combos that last a couple of shifts AT THE MOST, with linemates moving two and three lines down the depth chart for no apparent reason.
- Preseason stud Hlinka got a token game or two on a legit scoring line before being relegated to the depths of the bench. Don't try and tell me he may have defensive responsibility issues. If that was true, why was he still logging quality minutes on the PK until his healthy scratch?
- What does Scott Parker bring to the table that warrants him dressing in favor of McCormick who worked his tail off in two games and is rewarded with a seat in the pressbox?
- Speaking of tough guys working for no reward, why was Guite watching from the stands in the Calgary game?
- How is Boots supposed to get any confidence when, after winning the first game on that horrid road trip, he's immediately benched for Theo?
- Speaking of Theo, why was he starting against the Flame-Outs? Sure, he'd played well against them earlier in the season, but he tanked in his last appearance against them (4 goals on 15 shots???) and in his following starts against other NW opponents. Didn't we play this game to death early last season? Budaj wins games that Theo doesn't. There is NO EFFIN' POINT in trying to get your money's worth out of Theo now!!! He's a lost cause! The cautious optimism earlier in the season has blown up in everybody’s face. See if Phoenix wants him. Apparently the Great One is trying to build an entire team out of throwaway goalie parts...
My rambling, incoherent, semi-rant above has a point. All of the above issues are coaching decisions. Seriously, could Quenneville have screwed the pooch any more thoroughly than the last eight games or so? In my estimation, that's when the one-and-done goalie rotation hit full speed, and subsequently, the team hit a wall.
The rampant tinkering with the lines, the questionable starts/scratches for quality role-players, the goalie-go-round, the inconsistent efforts from the top lines, the inability to match-up players in opponent’s arenas.... the list goes on. (NOTE: The final nail in the coffin is the tie worn by Quenneville last night. Holy shattered retinas Batman!) SOMETHING must be done to allow this team to display the talent and depth that were cornerstones to this season.
In closing, I’d like to note that Washington scrapped Hanlon this week because he'd "lost the team." A team, I might add, that was supposed to be done rebuilding and have acquired some punch in the offseason, much like the Avs. Therefore, I'm firmly convinced that Giguere needs to pull the chute on this season and replace Joey Q.