"St. Louis Blues Plus Paul Stastny"

Well, it's not as bad as The Hockey News, but John Buccigross' pre-season prediction isn't much kinder to the Avalanche. 

Bucci plops them right down in 11th place in the West, and says:

Scanning the rosters, I don't see a major difference between the Blues and Avalanche. If healthy, the Avs will score more goals and Stastny is a better-than-a-point-per-game young guy the Blues don't have. But after that, the Avs are relying on older players and unproven goaltending.

...

The Avs do have lots of jam, lots of sandpaper, lots of Metallica in their game. But the NHL is a skill/talent league, and the Avs are going to have to be healthy and on their game every night.

First of all, is Bucci trying to say that the Avs have a roster full of old dudes who haven't been good since the early 1990s?  I assumed that's what the Metallica reference meant.  Also, we'll ignore the fact that the Western Conference is a skill/talent league for only one or two teams (Detroit and maybe San Jose) and the rest are mucking it up with traps and pests and lights-out goaltending.  Maybe Bucci just got the West mixed up with the East.

Aside from all that, he's right.  The Avs aren't going to win a lot of games easily.  They're not going to skate circles around opponents and they're not going to win any awards for style.  But comparing them to the Blues?  Really?

The one good thing about all the lousy predictions this year means the Avs will have an easy time surpassing them.  If they finish seventh in the West it's suddenly a Cinderella story and everyone (but us) will act surprised and impressed.  Scott Burnside will try to give the Jack Adams to Tony Granato in February.

I can't wait.

Addendum: If you haven't seen it yet, THN ranked the teams by the strength of their goaltending and again, it wasn't pretty for the Avalanche.  Then again, they ranked Carey Price and the Canadiens in the top spot, and Luongo and the Canucks in 13th.  So there's that.

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