Sometimes, I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong.
Take last night, for example. I watch the game, and, after it's over, jump from my laptop to my desktop to upload the shift chart and related stuff. For kicks, I hop over to the HF boards to check out the post game comments. Surely, the fans there are as excited I am about the first road win - against a division opponent, no less - and a generally solid effort overall.
Here's what I saw:
"a win is a win but damnit, this team reallllllllllllly needs to wake up NOW.
For ****** sakes, fire Q. "
"Almost any other team in the league would have completed the comeback tonight the way the Avs played those last two periods. "
"Guys we were lucky to get a win out of this nightmare , I'm tired of this , something must be done . If we do nothing we wont make the playoff , we need to see the reality in face b4 waking up deep in the standing . "
I don't really consider myself to be a jaded optimist. I've been known to be critical about the team. Just the other day I had a long rant about Joel Quenneville's botched handling of the goaltending situation. Heck, I even wondered out loud recently if Sakic was off his game (he still doesn't seem like he's got it fully together yet).
Still, I don't get this criticism. The Avalanche played a strong game last night. They took an early lead and, yes, got a bit caught up in trying to protect that lead. But, unlike in the yonder years of last season, the Avalanche were more or less in control of things throughout the game, even when the Oilers cut the lead to 3-2. Peter Budaj was a rock in the net. Brett Clark and Jordan Leopold continue to struggle, but the other regulars - Hannan, Sauer, Finger and Liles - were all quite steady. After a shaky start, Hannan has certainly picked up his game since leaving Clark and pairing with Sauer.
For crying out loud, the team allowed just 5 shots in the 3rd period (and just 8.7 shots in the 3rd per game this year, their best period). They came out hard, got a lead, settled into a defensive stance...AND HELD THE LEAD. While you might argue that they might have had more success keeping the foot on the gas pedal, that argument is essentially moot. What they did do worked. Let's save the sky-is-falling stuff for games we lose. You know, the ones Theodore starts.
ITCS Report (Lines and Shift Chart)
Report is up
Hejduk is still injured, and Skrastins is out with a shoulder injury (I've seen some estimates having him out for a month). After a tiring 3-shift effort on Sunday, Scott Parker got the night off. In his place, Kyle Cumiskey dressed as a 7th defensemen. He played sporadically (2:15 on the PP, 4:51 at EV). All but one of his shifts was with Brett Clark (the other was with Finger). Clark's other partner, Jordan Leopold, did not play after the Oilers scored at 10:45 in the 3rd. I'm not sure if that was a coaching decision (he's looked TERRIBLE the last 3 game and was knocked down to set up this goal) or an injury (he was hit hard on that play and another one a few shifts previous).
- Officially, the Avalanche were outhit 20-4. While I do think the Oilers had a decided advantage in this area, I suspect the scorer might have shaded it a bit too much in Edmonton's direction
- Budaj and Theodore have combined for a .919 save percentage in the 2nd period this year.
- Tyler Arnason had his best game of the year. That includes the faceoff circle, where he won 6 of 9 (67%).
The Avs finish up the 4-game road trip in Calgary on Friday before returning home for a 5-game stand against Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.