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Game 40: Coyotes At Avalanche, Preview And Open Thread

After a disappointing loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in a shootout on Monday night, the Avalanche will face them again tonight, this time at home in Denver at the Pepsi Center.

One of the highlights of Monday's debacle was the continuing success of call-up Cody McLeod (pronounced "McCloud"), who scored his second career goal after tallying one against Detroit last week.  He's got two goals in six games, a similar goal-scoring pace to Marek Svatos, Wojtek Wolski and Ryan Smyth.  

Mike Chambers wrote a nice piece about McLeod in today's Post, in fact.

But let me be completely honest here.  On a team with guys like Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski, there is absolutely no reason a player like Cody McLeod should be getting any ink at all.  No offense to him, because his gritty, physical play (see also: Ben Guite, Ian Laperriere, Cody McCormick) is a huge asset to the team.  But the fact that he's scored a couple of goals in six games should not be worthy of column space in the sports section.

What should be in the papers is the dominance of the Avs' top line, the RPM Line of Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk.  But it's not, because those guys only really play well every three games or so.  Here and there they'll get on a bit of a hot streak, but for the most part their success has come in spurts.  And Paul Stastny especially has been ridiculously inconsistent this year.  He hasn't scored a goal in six games.

But while the offense has been inconsistent, Coach Q appears to have finally gotten it with his goalies, and is now consistently starting Peter Budaj.  Boots will play again tonight, no doubt hoping to avenge his defeat at the hands of Ilya Bryzgalov on Monday.  This is exactly what Coach Q should do, and finally I have something to be happy about.

On a side note, the two Phoenix players who scored in regulation against Colorado on Monday were both former Avalanche players.  Radim Vrbata began his NHL career in Denver in 2001-02, and Steven Reinprecht came over to the team from Calgary as part of the infamous Chris Drury trade Los Angeles with Rob Blake in 2000-01.  Dirty back-stabbers.

In injury news, Ryan Smyth will not play tonight nor in the next game due to an ankle sprain.  Like his mysterious neck ailment a week ago, x-rays revealed no serious damage, so a lengthy period on the injured list looks doubtful---but you never know.  TJ Hensick will be back up from Lake Eerie to fill in.  Also, Kurt Sauer tried to skate in practice but left the ice after a dizzy spell.  Concussions suck.

The game starts tonight at 7:00 PM Mountain time, 9:00 PM Eastern.  I may join in on the thread tonight, but no promises.  Rest assured I'll be watching/listening to the game regardless.  Thanks again to everyone who's kept these silly things going in my many recent absences---I owe you all big time.

ESPN preview.