The Avalanche, despite a mini post-Christmas slump, seem to be building momentum to a strong second half. Colorado is traditionally very strong in the month of January, and, if the last two games are any indication, plan on continuing that trend this year.
Peter Budaj continues to get the call in net, and it has been paying dividends. Since Jose Theodore lost to the Kings on December 9th, Budaj has started 8 of the last 11 games. He has a 6-2 record and a 2.42 GAA in that span, and the team overall is 7-4. While Theodore hasn't been awful in his 3 starts (2.62 GAA), but he has been erratic, landing him a 1-2 record and one early exit. From hearing Quenneville talk (and watching the two goalies play), it looks like Budaj will be the guy for a while, and that, as they say, is a good thing.
The game itself wasn't the most exciting; it almost seemed like the Avs were saving something for tonight's key matchup against the Wild (Joe Sakic played just over 17 minutes). Key for Colorado was the play of Paul Stastny - he had a goal and 2 assists and had a number of terrific plays (including a beautiful steal that led to a Hejduk goal early in the 2nd). Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey played his 2nd game in the NHL, and, again, looked extremely composed (and talented).
Brett McLean returned after missing 3 games (back). Patrice Brisebois missed his 4th straight (the play of Cumiskey and Kurt Sauer means there's no hurry to return). Antti Laaksonen was a scratch (Klee again played forward) as was new arrival Ben Guite.
I've added scoring info to the line breakdowns (and the online stats). Keep in mind, all stats represent just even strength numbers.
- Sakic, Wolski, Svatos: 13:34, 0 points, 6 shots, +2
- Arnason, McLean, Laperriere: 12:26, 1 point, 5 shots, -1
- Stastny, Brunette, Hejduk: 16:58, 4 points, 9 shots, +4
- Turgeon, Rycroft, Klee: 8:09, 0 points, 4 shots, E
- Clark & Skrastins: 21:35, 3 points, 3 shots, +4
- Liles & Vaananen: 16:46, 0 points, 1 shots, E
- Cumiskey & Sauer: 11:36, 0 points, 1 shot, E
- Only 3 Avs defenseman have a PP point this year. Skrastins came within one second of becoming the 4th midway through the 2nd period. With Richards off, the Avs were on a powerplay with Clark and Cumiskey at the blueline. Towards the end, Cumiskey went off for a change. Clark didn't see this and fed him a slow pass, which Skrastins - coming in from the bench - one-timed off of Tyler Arnason and past Marc Denis. It happened just after the penalty expired, so no powerplay point. It also was the first one timer I've seen taken by someone who wasn't on the ice when the pass was made.
- Speaking of Clark and Skrastins, the duo is +10 with 5 points in the last 5 games. Quite a contrast from the first 5 games of the season (-10, 1 point).
- Sakic has been scoring lately at even strength, but that's his first PP point in his last 9 games. Liles is the only defensemen with a PP point in the last 11.