Now that one of us has finally gotten around to announcing the 2nd Annual Avalanche Blogger Roundtable discussion, I thought it might be fun to look at our insightful totally made up answers from last year. The index for last year's event can be found right here at MHH.
The first question (about goaltenders), was hosted at the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. That site has since moved, and it doesn't appear that they took any of the crappy Avalanhce-related material with them. I guess that's what we get for allowing Mike to take part; I mean, just because the whole thing was his idea...
Question 2 asked which prospect would have the biggest impact and which younger player would have the biggest improvement. It seems like most of us went with Jaroslav Hlinka for the first part of the question. None of the mentioned rookies - Hlinka, Cumiskey, Hensick, Jones, Stewart - really had a sizeable impact, although Hlinka did lead the bunch in scoring (with a whopping 28 points). Of course, not a single one of us mentioned the rookie to (arguably) have the biggest impact last year - Cody McLeod, but I do have to give Jori kudos for this correct prediction: "Don't be surprised to see David Jones recalled before Chris Stewart." Still, I think Greg (from hockeyrants) wins this round by correctly calling Hlinka's season: "I fear we're going to see one season, about 15-20 points, and back to Prague for ol' Jaro." (Linkopings, Prague, same difference).
Shane hosted the question about which player was looking at a make-or-break season. This isn't really a question you can go back and see who got right or wrong, but it's still worth taking a look at. Ryan Smyth's name was thrown out there a lot, followed by Jordan Leopold. Both had a disappointing, injury-plagued year. Ironically, I think these are two of the players with the best chance to have a big rebound year with the team this year.
Over at jibblescribbits, we looked at the biggest hurdles facing the team going into last year. Most of these answers were very long and included many, many words (we're going to a better job of editing ourselves this year, honest). For the most part, goaltending seemed to be the biggest concern - although I think the sentiment was more related to how our former coach (mis)handled the goalies rather than Budaj (the starter going into last year) and Theodore.
At hockey rants, we wondered if Quenneville would get the boot if the Avalanche were under .500 midway through the year. Although several (including myself) thought that Q would be gone, most of us were rather emphatic that the Avs wouldn't dip below 500...and we were right. The Avs dipped a game below .500 just twice, both over a 3-game stretch in mid-February. So, a big virtual pat on the back for everyone there.
At J&HL, we discussed whether the Avs were possible Cup contenders. In general, I think most of us agreed we could challenge for the divisional title (which we did) and could expect to play in at least one playoff series. Again, we were generally right on this one. Greg (hockey rants) was, unfortunately, dead on when he said "I don’t see the Avalanche as being on the same level as Anaheim or San Jose or Detroit." However, the saddest prediction came from Joe: "The only person who can really mess things up is Coach Q, who has always had a horrible reputation among goalies. If he can motivate Budaj and abandon Theodore early enough, the Avalanche could win 50 games this season." Sigh.
At Melt Your Face Off, we asked what would be the repercussions of missing the playoffs for a second straight year. Thankfully, we didn't get to find out AND they let Joel Quenneville go anyway. That's the best of both worlds!
Finally, with guys like Ossi Vaananen and Patrice Brisebois leaving last summer, we asked who would be the new whipping boy on the team. Brett Clark and Marek Svatos were the two favorite answers, with a couple votes for Jose Theodore. Obviously, we all missed on this one - you can't find the words "Tyler Arnason" or "Wyatt Smith" anywhere on that page. Yes, even the armchair "experts" get one wrong now and again...