Hi gang. I started writing this in response to one of Randy's comments in one of the awesome Roundtable discussions, but I decided to flip it over here instead. Its coming up onto the real start of the season; very soon we will be getting juicy info on our bunch of rookies, analysis of the vets, and start to watch our team form into the 2011-12 season.
Randy's post was simple, and it was at the end of Roundtable 6: George and Weezy -
This team is full of so many ifs. Here’s hoping last season pissed enough of the guys off that they come out playing with massive chips on their shoulders. E.J. needs to be that #1 D we hope he can be. I’m still excited about this team, lots of talent in the ranks and full of youth. Can’t wait for the season to start.
Naturally, being me, I jumped in and started thinking about all the 'ifs' that I hope to see this season. I started by copying Randy's style and making his hopes sound prettier, but it didn't take long for me to really start wondering what I want to see.
Anyway, here are some of my hopes, wishes, and dreams for the upcoming season, and hope that some of you will grace us with yours!
- Semyon Varlamov has been working with a strength and flexibility coach in Philly all off-season. It seems like he has taken his injury history to heart, and I hope that he is doing everything in his power to stay limber to accommodate his playing style. Pilates, Yoga, daily stretch, massage, whatever it takes. If that man can stay healthy... well, it would be a gargantuan step in a good direction.
- Erik Johnson is clearly in the mood to let people know why he was worth the trade. He wants to be out there, wants to make a difference, wants to be a leader on the team. I like that. I hope that he can really start a move toward being a leader out there, by both words, and example. We have some quiet leadership in Duke, and strong support in guys like Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, and Paul Stastny, but, with the departure of Liles, I don't see a true frontrunner. Johnson will be, given time.
- Rumor has it that the blue line staff might, possibly, be a teensy-weensy bit bigger than it was a year ago. This has totally changed the strategy for getting the puck out of the zone [pass instead of skate], but it was hard for me to see how we could have finessed the other system, with the guys we had running in it, to adequately compete against the bruisers the West has been sending against us. I hope that our new gang of blue-liners can come together and gel, work with the new circumstances of the team, and become a cohesive unit that can, you know, play D. I don't expect it to happen overnight, but we have committed to this style, and I want our guys to be able to go out there and get things done.
- Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Ryan O'Reilly are the backbone of this team. We all know about centers and their incredible importance in building teams. However, all but the top few centers are handicapped by the wingmen they have to work with. Putting Kevin Porter on Stastny's wing will probably not end well. And didn't. I know all the guy's numbers were repressed last year [I know, I know, Dutchie and Radar both had career years, but I still feel it applies], and you have to make do with what you have, but having a stable collection of wingers will do wonders for these guys. I hope that the Avs will be able to give that to them this year. New facilities, new workouts / trainers, whatever it takes; let's keep our wingers healthy, and try to stop the revolving door.
- The new glass at Pepsi Center will flex, and I could not be happier. It isn't the only change; in fact, compared to some other things, it may be very minor. But.. I feel like its going to be a fresh start for the guys. The rebuild seems mostly over [knocks viciously on wood], the team feels pretty complete, and there's new glass to mitigate injuries. Its not a total and complete clean slate, but the lingering shittyness of last season has leached out, and the future is bright. I hope that this team can absorb all of these changes, major and minor, and see that Colorado Avalanche are ready to move forward, without looking to the past, and make something of themselves.
So, Ladies and Gents, what are some of your hopes?