Just a note for everybody, this would be my first post ever on the MHH.
First, Joe Sacco and the coaching staff has done the most amazing job with what they have been given. Nobody expected them to win as much as they have, and most hockey "experts" don't think they have what it takes to make any kind of run come March. But I think with one or two key "tweaks" to personnel this team has a legitimate shot at making a deep run in the playoffs.
First, the team needs to address its issues on the defensive end of things. Brett Clark and Tom Preissing are consistently showing up on film whenever bad goals have been scored against the Avs. This however doesn't mean that i think they aren't talented players, but they would be much better suited for a team more conservatively minded defensively. Both Clark and Preissing are both too weak on the puck to be legitimate puck moving defensemen. They both have problems getting takeaways, and they don't pass well enough to consider them "skill" defensemen. Considering their moderate salaries i would look to deal both of them in a package for a Brooks Orpik type of hard hitting defenseman. Salei would also work in this spot, but at his advanced age i'm not sure his body will hold up. Somebody that can throw big hits in a game like Scott Stevens used to do for the Devils would take a lot of pressure off of Adam Foote.
So the Defense should look like this:
Hannah, Quincy (both are playing very well)
Cumiskey, Foote (Another solid combo)
Liles, New D/Salei (Great if Salei will throw the body, but at his age it might be too much for him)
Scratched: Wilson (playing too well to send down)
Now with the defense set the next order of business is to address the offense. Currently the lines have been shuffled around so much its tough to tell who's playing with who. But the gist that i get from this is that the Avs are in need of one good Power Forward type of player, assuming Galliardi picks up where he left off. David Jones is making a case to stay up with the club but i don't think he's a first line player quite yet. Moving Svatos has to be considered an option seeing as how he hasn't developed any chemistry with any of the top 6 forwards. If thats the case i think he could be delt for an experienced hard hitting forward. Someone like Erik Cole would be a good fit for the team. It would provide more leadership in the forward group and add a player with a cup under his belt. Without knowing how the lines are going to play out here's how i see the forwards:
Top 6: Wolski, Stastny, Hejduk, Duchene, Galliardi, (New Fwd/currently Svatos)
Bottom 6: Tucker, Radar, Stewart, The Highlander, Jones, Koci
Scratched: Hendricks and Hensick (the chicken club)
With this lineup the last thing i would change would be to give it some scary toughness. A guy like Boogard or Parros instead of Koci would really help straighten out the Sean Avery's of the league. As it is right now, Duchene is taking way too many elbows up high. Watching Koci jump on the ice to fight is a nice show, but realistically opposing teams aren't actually afraid of fighting him. Avs need a player who can beat people up. Moving Dupuis and a mid round draft pick should get a good tough guy at the deadline from a team that is selling.
All this may be a moot point if Lacroix isn't trying to win now, but in Pierre we trust.
PS. Bring back Joe Sakic as a "shot coach"