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12/27 Dallas 5, Colorado 4

"The goaltending wasn't there." That's what Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville had to say about Jose Theodore after yet another disappointing game against the Dallas Stars. "I wasn't there to make the big saves when I needed to." That's Theodore. "It's time to ride Peter Budaj for a while." That one's me.

Is Theodore solely to blame for the Avs blowing a 2-goal lead for the 3rd time to the Stars? Yep. The difference between Budaj and Theodore can be attributed to one main area: the opposing powerplay. When not shorthanded, Theodore has a stellar 1.91 GAA - even better than Budaj's solid 2.28. Against opponents' powerplays though, Theo's GAA balloons to a dismal 8.90 against Budaj's 4.05. Colorado is 0-7 in games where they've given up 2 or more PP goals in a game. Theodore is responsible for 5 of those game, and has been in net for 25 of the 32 PP goals the team has given up.

So here's the scenario. The Avs can outscore opponents at even strength (about a +10 on the season) and have a much-improved powerplay. Take away the PK and the Avs are an upper-tier playoff team: 18-9-2 when they hold opponents to 1 PP goal or less. Colorado just finished a 9-game stretch where they allowed just 4 PP goals and went 6-3. Budaj allowed 1 PP goal in 5 starts (4-1). Theo? 3 PP goals in 4 starts (2-2). See a pattern? Simply put, Jose Theodore isn't getting the job done while shorthanded, and it is holding this team back.

EV Forward Lines

Svatos (groin) missed his 3rd straight game. The lines were the same for the 2nd straight game - the first time in 8 games that Quenneville has used the same lines back to back.

  • Sakic, Wolski, Brunette. +2, 14:23, 8 shots.

  • Arnason, McLean, Hejduk. -3, 10:22, 5 shots.

  • Stastny, Richardson, Rycroft. E, 11:15, 5 shots

  • Turgeon, Laaksonen, Laperriere. +1, 10:45, 4 shots

Defensive Pairings

No changes here either, although Patrice Brisebois left early in the 2nd period with a back injury. He might miss the next game...if the next Denver blizzard doesn't wipe it out.

  • Clark & Skrastins. +1, 18:38, 2 shots

  • Liles & Brisebois. -2, 11:27, 8 shots

  • Klee & Vaananen. +1, 15:33, 0 shots

Quick Hits

  • Dallas was without Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow and Eric Lindros. Not that it mattered. Stars' Chris Conner scored his first career goal against the Avs. Loui Eriksson also scored. The pair have scored 3 of their 4 career goals against Colorado. Do I even have to tell you which goalie gave them up?

  • Wojtek Wolski had, IMO, his best game in the NHL. I criticize him often for his lack of effort, but it was there last night. He skated all game, handled the puck well, went to the net with authority, and even doled out a couple of hits. Wolski has 5 points in his last 2 games and is 3rd on the team in EV scoring.

  • John-Michael Liles had a season high 7 shots. He is on pace to eclipse career-best totals in goals, assists, points, and shots.