The Avs started the preseason on the right foot last night, dropping the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in OT. I did not see the game, but that isn't going to stop me from looking over the box score and event summary to help me make some astute observations.
First of all, kudos to the NHL for coming up with some slick looking new box scores. I didn't really have much issue with the old style box scores and event summaries, but the new ones are much improved and infinitely easier to read. It looks like they've added a new stat - blocked attempts - and better faceoff and powerplay breakdowns. And, oh yeah, they've also disabled right-clicking on their pages.
And now, comments on the game. Again, these are just based on the box score.
Paul Stastny scored 2 goals. Kyle Cumiskey - who had a great rookie camp - had 3 assists. Jaroslav Hlinka had 2 assists as well. Karlis Skrastins and Johnny Boychuk seemed to be playing together a lot, and were a combined +5. Cody McLeod fought the punk-ass Danny Carcillo. Peter Budaj and Tyler Weiman both seemed to play solid games. Stastny was 50% on his faceoffs - an area he struggled at last year. He also had 4 blocked shots, tied for tops on the team with Jordan Leopold. Jeff Jillson had over 23 minutes of ice time (2nd to Leopold), had 3 shots and 2 block shots. Tyler Arnason had 4 takeaways, and even contributed a hit (he had all of two last season). The team blocked 21 shots.
Arnason was an awful 3 of 12 at faceoffs (25%). Matt Hussey was a barely-better 4 of 13 (31%) and TJ Hensick was 6 of 14 (43%). The team was at 42% overall - 31% at 5 on 5. This was one area that JF Giguere failed to improve this summer, and I think it will hurt us all season long. Scott Parker landed 2 interference penalties, both in the 2nd period (a frame where the Avs collected 5 minor penalties). Gotta stay out of that box, Sheriff. Hensick and Chris Stewart both played sparingly (13 and 10 minutes, respectively) - perhaps an indication that neither really have a shot at making the team despite strong camps. Although the goalies played well, they faced too many shots - the Coyotes outshot the Avalanche 45-22; that won't work in the regular season. Finally, the team registered just 5 hits (the same number Shane Doan managed on his own). Overall, the Avs were outhit 14-5...and one of the 5 hits was from little Kyle Cumiskey.
As near as I can tell from the TOI sheet, the lines were as follows:
- Hlinka - Stastny - Jones
- Wolski - Arnason - Svatos
- Roche - Hussey - Parker
- Hensick - McLeod - Stewart
- Leopold - Sauer
- Skrastins - Boychuk
- Jillson - Cumiskey
There's a lot of favorable things to take out of the game. Stastny seems ready to pick up right where he left off, and his performance is one of the keys to a succesful season. And Kyle Cumiskey has shown all month long that his short stint with the team last year was just the beginning. Still, despite many positives, the team still is struggling with some key deficiencies from last year - faceoffs, the lack of physical play, and too many shots given up. It's just the first exhibition game, but, obviously, there's still some work to be done.