||7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
|41-25-7||March 27th, 2010
|89 pts||Jobing.com Arena
7th in West
There are 9 games left in this NHL season. If the Colorado Avalanche can win 5 of those games, they will have made the playoffs, regardless of what any other team does the rest of the way. 5 wins sounds easy, but there aren't many cream puffs on the schedule. After Phoenix tonight, the Avs have San Jose (twice), Anaheim, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago and Los Angeles. In other words, no one is going to roll over and let the Avalanche waltz in - they need to win and tonight is as good as any night.
You know, the Avalanche - individually and collectively - haven't gotten a ton of credit this year, whether it's the Corsi stuff or Duchene not getting enough Calder love or Anderson getting snubbed for the Olympics. But the one thing that really gets me fired up is the fact that Dave Tippett appears to be the consensus front runner for the Jack Adams trophy. I like Dave Tippett. He's a fine coach and is deservedly garnering accolade this year. But to say that he's the hands-down winner over someone like, oh, I don't know...Joe Sacco? That's bunk. Tippett has turned around a terrible Coyote's team in his first year in Phoenix. Likewise for Sacco in Denver. But Tippett did that despite a tremendous amount of offseason turmoil! Well, no one was threatening to move the Avs to Hamilton, but some might recall that this summer was anything but smooth sailing in Denver (thanks Patrick!). Tippett has improved his team by 19 points over the previous season. The Avs are currently 20 points above their last-season output, with 2 games in hand on the Coyotes. Quick and dirty numbers show that Tippett's team has lowered their goals allowed by about 27%. The Avs? An equally impressive 23%. Tippett's Coyotes have dropped ever-so-slightly offensively (2%). Not the Avs. Sacco has team scoring up 11% over last year. You can credit Craig Anderson for the first stat, just as you can credit Ilya Bryzgalov for the Coyote's improvement there. But the offensive improvement? That's Joe Sacco - the first Avalanche coach to have a an actual system in place since the lockout. Oh, and Joe Sacco has done that with the youngest team in hockey. The Avs have gotten 149 points from their rookies. The Coyotes? 12. Again, not a knock on Tippett...but where's the love for Skipper Joe?
Tippett has done a tremendous job; there's no question about that. I don't have a problem with him being discussed for the award, as he is deserving of being in the mix. It burns me, though, that Sacco isn't getting equal press. In my mind, he's done as good of a job as Tippett has done, if not better. He should be getting every bit as much attention for this award as Tippett is getting.
Okay, rant over. The Red Wings won last night, pulling them even in the standings with the Avs (and eliminating Columbus from playoff contention in the process). Just two separates four teams from Nashville in 5th and Detroit in 8th. All four teams are in action tonight and Detroit and Nashville will be playing each other. Depending on how everything shakes out, the Avalanche could be in 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th at the close of the night. Most importantly, Calgary plays in Boston at 1pm, so be rooting for those Bruins. And, of course, root for the Avs. This one's a big one tonight. I can't help but think tonight's game is going to set the tone for the Avs for the rest of the regular season...if not beyond.