The Avs are back. The bunch of lazy bums dressed up in Avalanche colors has been replaced - at least for one game - with an actual, real life hockey team. After the fourth straight game of uninspired play, Joel Quenneville shook up all the lines, leaving just Sakic / Wolski and Stastny / Hejduk intact. The Avs responded, outplaying the Coyotes for much of the game, and putting considerable pressure on Phoenix's Curtis Joseph in the early going (shot totals were low, but the pressure was there).
Struggling Tyler Arnason was moved to left wing on the Stastny / Hejduk line, and responded with some solid play. He assisted on all three even strength goals, and made the key play on Hejduk's powerplay goal (his pass under pressure at the blueline was a thing of beauty, and started the whole scoring chance). He was named first star of the game, and you could really see the relief pouring out of him in the post game interview. Ha ha, just kidding. He still came across like Ben Stein on Prozac, but, hey, we aren't paying him to have fun, right?
Two guys that do seem like they are having fun: Arnason's new linemates, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny. After clicking well earlier in the season and then separated, the pair was reunited 10 games ago and have responded. The line has 19 points at even strength and has been a minus in just one game (Calgary). Even with the abysmal -13 from the Flames game, the line is a collective +4 in the 10 games, 2nd just to the Sakic line (+6). Stastny had two goals in the game, to solidify his status as biggest NHL YoungStar snub, while Hejduk had a goal and two assists. If they continue to click like this, combined with the play of Sakic and Wolski on the first line, this team should be able to score in bunches.
Four paragraphs in, and I still haven't congratulated the penalty killing team. Everyone knew they'd be the focus tonight, and they stepped up, killing off all 6 penalties. The 12:00 of PP time without giving up a goal is a season high for the Avs (previous best game without a goal allowed was 8:53 of PP time). Ben Guite was recalled, and pitched in some strong play on the kill (and, maybe more importantly, won 61% of his faceoffs). The Coyote's don't exactly have the most potent powerplay, but that doesn't take away from the strong play of the Avs while shorthanded.
Guite rejoined the team (and played), and Antti Laaksonen played, leaving Pierre Turgeon and Mark Rycroft as healthy scratches. All lines had major shakeups, while the defensive pairings have remained the same in all 5 games since the John-Michael Liles injury.
- Sakic, Wolski, Brunette: 14:44, 2 pts, 11 shots, -1
- Stastny, Arnason, Hejduk: 11:12, 7 pts, 11 shots, +4
- Guite, Richardson, Svatos: 9:54, 0 pts, 2 shots, E
- McLean, Laaksonen, Laperriere: 7:51, 0 pts, 2 shots, -3
- Clark & Skrastins: 16:22, 0 pts, 1 shots, -2
- Klee & Vaananen: 15:10, 0 pts, 2 shots, +1
- Cumiskey & Sauer: 12:25, 0 pts, 0 shots, +1
- Despite playing poorly overall, the Avalanche are 2-2-1 with Liles out of the lineup.
- Marek Svatos was dropped to the 3rd line, and played just 8:58, with no PP time (and just two shifts in the 2nd period). The last time he played under 10 minutes, he missed the next 3 games due to injury. I suspect this one was more a matter of "coaches decision"
- If I ran the Avalanche, one of the first things I would do would be to take away all of Karlis Skrastin's reading material. It's obvious he's been reading his own press clippings, and it's really hurting his game.
Stats are updated and posted
- 1/15 San Jose 3, Colorado 1
- 1/13 Colorado 3, Anaheim 2 (SO)
- 1/11 Calgary 7, Colorado 3
- 1/09 Detroit 4, Colorado 3 (SO)
- 1/06 Colorado 2, Minnesota 1 (SO)
David Jones Interview
I think many readers are familiar with the "unofficial" Avs fansite - Avalanche Country Today (and if you aren't, you should be). Today they are running a nice interview on Avs prospect David Jones.