What the fuck happened? A week ago, we were looking at a key 6-game stretch against good teams. We were playing well, our coach had finally settled on one goaltender, and we were looking forward to testing our mettle against some of the better Western Conference teams.
Four games later, and if not for the heroics of Peter Budaj, this stretch would be an unmitigated disaster. The Avalanche have faced four very good teams (Detroit, Calgary, Anaheim and San Jose) and have looked very poor against each one. Colorado has been outshot in 10 of the last 14 periods (2 OTs), and held to single digits in 11. Over the four games, opponents have outshot Colorado 151 to 99. Ouch. The Avs have allowed 5 PP goals, 2 shorthanded goals, and 8 even strength goals...while scoring just 9 goals of their own. Again, if not for Budaj (.908 save percentage in the 4 games), I'd be writing now about our 4th straight blowout loss.
Colorado knew that the Sharks have a potent powerplay, but that didn't stop them from testing the waters. The Avalanche took 3 minor penalties in the first period, and San Jose didn't squander them, converting on 2 of them (goals by Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau). San Jose dominated the period, launching 21 shots at Budaj.
Colorado played better in the 2nd and 3rd, even cutting the lead to 2-1 on a Joe Sakic powerplay goal (one of just two PP opportunities for the Avs), but still had a tough time generating any sort of offensive pressure. Need an example? Just fast forward to the last two minutes of the game, when the Avs were trying to get into the San Jose so that Budaj could get off the ice. They couldn't do it. Twice Budaj had to race back because San Jose had gotten to the puck first.
Next up on the trail is the Pheonix Coyotes, who with all the turmoil and aging players, should be a complete mess. But they aren't - they've been hot lately, and sit just 3 points back from Colorado in the standings. With the Avs playing progressively worse in each game they play lately, this one could get ugly.
The only lineup change was Pierre Turgeon replacing Antti Laaksonen, both in the lineup and on Tyler Arnason's line.
- Sakic, Wolski, Svatos: 17:33, 0 pts, 11 shots, E
- Stastny, Brunette, Hejduk: 16:11, 0 pts, 7 shots, E
- Arnason, Turgeon, Rycroft: 9:30, 0 pts, 2 shots, E
- Richardson, McLean, Laperriere: 8:23, 0 pts, 2 shots, E
- Clark & Skrastins: 17:20, 0 pts, 1 shot, E
- Klee & Vaananen: 16:14, 0 pts, 1 shot, E
- Cumiskey & Sauer: 16:40, 0 pts, 2 shots, E
- Anyone familiar with baseball's Run Support stat should understand my Goal Support stat: basically, the number of goals that your team scores for you while you are in the net. Budaj's has gone down every single month: 3.76 in October, 3.57 in November, 2.86 in December and just 2.67 in January. They need to start scoring for this guy
- Cumiskey and Vaananen both left the ice with injuries in the 1st period. Thankfully, they both came back and finished the game. Losing any more defesemen would be simply disastrous.
Updated and posted.