January 20th, 2011. For those bad at math, that was almost one year ago. The Avalanche were set to play their 47th game, a tilt against the Nashville Predators. The Avs were in 7th place in the NW (dig these new daily standings, NHL.com) with 54 points. They weren't really in striking distance of the 1st place Canucks (65 points), but with a win they would pull even with 4th place Nashville in the standings.
They didn't. They lost 5-1 kicking off a string of epic failure, losing 22 out of their next 24 games. The Avalanche would muster just 5 wins and 14 points the rest of the way. By the end of the year, they'd have just 68 points - three more than the Canucks did back on January 20th. Game 47 was the beginning of a dreadful, dreadful slide - easily the worst stretch of hockey since this franchise arrived in Denver. Have a properly set the mood?
Today (afternoon game alert), the Avalanche face off against the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that has lost 9 of their last 11, including a 3-2 loss to Colorado back on December 29th. This is a new-look Avalanche team - one that wins with defense and goaltending. The Avs have moved up to 14th in the league in goals against and 9th (9th!) in shots against but have slipped to 25th in goals scored. Goalie J.S. Giguere spells that out in the AP preview
"We don't have the type of team that's going to win 5-0, so we need to earn whatever we get," said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 21 shots. "We need to play well defensively. We know that we have the capability to score two to three goals per game, so if you don't let them score much, then we should have a chance."
Indeed, the Avs have scored 5 goals in the last 4 games. Phoenix doesn't score many goals either and, like the Avs, don't give up a ton. In other words, on paper it looks like a tight, low-scoring game. Personally, I don't care how many goals are scored, as long the game 47 thing doesn't repeat this year.