The Avs Get a Late Start On Black Friday
Photo by Rick Scuteri (AP)
I personally had an excellent Thanksgiving (thanks for asking). But, after a delicious meal on Thursday night, some delicious turkey, bacon & avocado sandwiches for lunch today and then this turkey of a game tonight, I think I've had my fill.
The Avalanche spun their wheels really hard (38 shots), but could only get one past Phoenix backup Michael Tellqvist. That would be the 7th time in the last 10 games that they've been held to a goal or less in regulation. The Avs are currently on pace to score 186 goals - the lowest total by an NHL team since the lockout. The only team scoring less goals per game than Colorado is tomorrow night's opponent, Tampa. Boy, I'd sure be camping out early to grab seats for THAT one.
The Avs started out a little sluggishly. The Coyotes did too, but got on the board first with a wicked goal above Budaj's right shoulder. It was an excellent shot that you really can't complain an awful lot about. The 2nd goal, though, was cringe-worthy, with Wojtek Wolski, Budaj and Scott Hannan ending up in some awkward dogpile in front of the net. All watched with mild bemusement as some dude named Kevin Porter backhanded the puck into the net. The Avs haven't given up many "guh" goals, lately, so I guess it's tough to complain too much. Still, that's not the kind of goal you want to see as the game-winner against you.
Speaking of cringe-worthy, I'm listening to Chinese Democracy as I write this...and other than the excellent title track, I am doing a great deal of wincing - this is just awful. As such, I'd like to nominate it as the official soundtrack of the Colorado Avalanche offense. As I mentioned above, the Avalanche had 38 shots, 31 after the first period, and yet they STILL managed to look ugly doing it. Any time a Colorado player has a puck inside the zone, his first (and only) play is to dump the puck behind the net. It doesn't matter if anyone wearing a unipron is there to grab the puck - that's where the puck goes. The only exception to this rule is if an Av has the puck in front of the net, in which case the play is to find another player to pass to. Hey, I'm all about working the puck down low, but would it hurt to just crash the net a few times? I had to scratch my head a few times listening to the Altidudes. McNab on several occasions mentioned how often the Avs were crashing the net. Did he mean behind the net? And at one point, Mike Haynes exclaimed that the Avalanche had ALL THREE forwards behind the Phoenix net; Mike must have missed that the first 337 times its happened this year.
So, anyway, the Avs got 38 shots on the net, and managed to get just one through - a Ryan Smyth deflection of an Ian Laperriere shot from the sideboards. Smyth was, as he's been so often lately, the best Avalanche skater on the ice. He and Paul Stastny barely left the ice in the 3rd (9:42 and 9:06 of ice time, respectively). But his effort is not enough to carry the rest of the team, and even he is going down low instead of to the net far too often.
The lines to start the game were exactly the same as the St Louis game. Unfortunately, Joe Sakic could only go one shift with the bad back and that changed up everything. By the end of the game, Smyth was playing with Stastny and Hejduk while Sanjaya was centering Wolski (who also played some center) and Svatos (who played with his ring of invisibility until his double-minor high stick late in the game finished off the Avs for good). David Jones went 13 minutes in the 2nd without seeing the ice - I don't know if that's injury- or coaching-related.
- This was the first Friday game for the Avs this year (and the first of three consecutive Friday games).
- For the 4th time this year, the Avalanche opponents debuted their new 3rd jerseys. My theory is that teams are picking the Avs because almost anything would look good next to Colorado's atrocities. Plus, it seems to work - the Avs are 1-3 in those games.
- The Coyotes are not a very good faceoff team, and showed it today. Paul Stastny won 19 of 26 (73%) and Tyler Arnason was an astonishing 6 for 6.
The Avs are right back at it tomorrow. They'll be back home to face Barry Melrose Rick Tocchet to face the Lightning. Oh, and Andrew Raycroft will be in net. Do you really want to throw him out in front of the home crowd, Tony?