The Avs are in a bit of a lull and everyone knows it. Placing 29th in the NHL is nothing the state of Colorado should be proud of. Our season ended as soon as the Calgary Flames scored goal number five in the Valentine's Day massacre. And as we all know, the visitors went on to score another four goals simply in good measure. At the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season, the goaltender situation is a mess. The shocking Chris Stewart trade is still seeping in the back of our minds, threatening to haunt us for seasons to come. Our lack of any special teams was certainly noticeable. Our PP was actually ranked 11th with a 18.5%, but never seemed to be there in the important games. Our PK was ranked 30th with 76.1%. But whether it be special teams, five on five, or four on four OT, we could always be sure that night after night, if we dare watch, we could be witness to our undersized defenseman continuously get overpowered down low. And how dare I omit the infamous Peter motherf**king Forsberg fiasco.
But not all hope is lost. Erik Johnson has yet been given a real chance to prove himself and the stellar play of J.M. Liles was one of the highlights of the season. Duchene also put up better numbers than his rookie season, avoiding any "sophomore slump". The team, Duchene most notably, quickly developed chemistry with newly acquired Tomas Fleischmann. When our new first line got real hot, they went on very respectful point streaks and were honored as the number one and two players of the week by the NHL (http://avalanche.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=546863). I believe that this year's number two draft pick overall can do the Avs wonders, just as the number three overall pick did just a couple years ago. Also, one David Jones had 27 goals this season.
I can be blindly optimistic forever if I wanted. We all have to get through this "rebuilding phase", somehow.
One skater I do hope can step it up next year, for the sake of any playoff hope, is T.J. Galiardi. The second round draft pick in 2007 is going to play in a make or break season as far as his career is concerned. I'm hoping he makes the most of his opportunity. At 23 years old, Galiardi could very well be a bust next season. He certainly didn't impress anyone with what limited ice time that he did have this past season.
But he is only through his second season. He is a fast skater and his handles aren't bad. More importantly, Galiardi can play an in-your-face kind of game on his good nights. He has been very versatile for the Avalanche, playing all three forward positions on all of the lines. He's got the height (6'2'') for the NHL, but he lacks the build (listed at 190 lbs). He did look a lot bigger this season than he did in his rookie season. Plus, I'm sure he won't be shying away from the gym this offseason either.
Galiardi has the chance to be our Ryan Kesler, especially if Galiardi's two-way game continues to develop. He fits on the PK or the PP. He would be a reliable third line guy, but he doesn't look bad playing next to Paul Stastny either. Now I'm not kidding myself, Galiardi won't put up 73 points like Kesler. Perhaps because Galiardi doesn't have the Sedin Twins. But he could be that key, two-way player for our team. I'm thinking of a more seasoned, stronger version of the T.J. Galiardi that we saw playing with undeniable intensity against the San Jose Sharks in the 2010 series. With a little more muscle on him next season, he can be that guy.
Plus, he'll need to be if Mueller is going to be experiencing concussion symptoms forever. Which isn't farfetched. But before T.J. Galiardi can demonstrate any untapped potential in 2011-2012... the Avalanche must choose to resign him.