Joel Quenneville has said that he's been waiting for one of his goalies to seize the job this year. I think he's found his man. Peter Budaj stole a point for the Avalanche last night. The severely undermanned team was no match for the Ducks, and Anaheim outshot Colorado 38-12. But Budaj kept the Avs in the game, forcing the Ducks into OT and earning a much needed point for his club. The Ducks won 2-1 on Matthieu Schneider's OT winner, but that was almost beside the point. Budaj's heroics pulled the Avalanche into a 3-way tie for first in the clusterfuck that is the NW division.
I could devote a whole article to Budaj, but I've covered it to death lately and I'm sick today, so I'll save my applause for a later date (I'm confident we'll be seeing a lot of Budaj in the near future). I would like to know one thing, though. What anonymous genius couldn't see fit to award Budaj with one of the 3 stars of the game?
The Avalanche were without Ryan Smyth, Joe Sakic, Tyler Arnason, Brad Richardson, Kurt Sauer and Jordan Leoprone. That's $17.4 million worth of salary watching from wherever injured players watch from, or 37% of our salary (and that doesn't even include the $5.3 million we're paying Theo to wear a baseball cap). Four of the 20 players we dressed last night started the season in the AHL. Three others were either in the AHL or Europe at the beginning of last season. While the knee-jerk reaction might be to criticize the team for managing just 12 shots against the Ducks, it really serves as a testament to the depth of the organization that we could miss so many key players and still hang in there (barely) against the Stanley Cup champs.
My notes on the game are up
I have the lines up too. Ryan Smyth missed the game with a neck injury (isn't that what they called Sauer's concussion?) and Andrew Brunette replaced him on the top line. Cody McLeod made his NHL debut and had a relatively quiet night (he had one solid hit early, though). Scott Parker returned to the lineup for the first time in 9 games, and took on former Av George Parros in the 2nd period.
- Budaj held his opponent scoreless in the 1st period for the 4th straight game, and 10th time this season.
- Scott Hannan led the team with 3 hits. He has really turned his game around in the last month or so, and looks now to be that top D we thought we were getting this summer.
- McLeod and Milan Hejduk each had 2 shots - the only Avalanche players with more than 1.
The Avs are now home for the holidays. Six of their next seven games are at the Pepsi Center, with a New Year's Eve game in Phoenix the only road game in the next 19 days.