I have a bad feeling about this game.
Granted, I've been having bad feelings about every game the Avalanche have played since Super Joe went down with that Super Hernia, and they've only been compounded by the loss of Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny. Combined with my complete lack of faith in the ability (and sanity) of Coach Joel Quenneville, I pretty much watch every Avs game with the grim reservation of a death row inmate.
But it's been a while since the Avs have played the Wild. And the Wild have always scared me, because they've always played well against Colorado. Sure, they've lost a few to the Avs, but they always play hard and that pesky defense-first system of theirs is almost always effective. Even though the Avs have more or less started to emulate them, the all-defense-all-the-time style is still not really a comfortable shoe to wear in Denver. Then again, what choice do they have? As Terry Frei points out in the article linked above:
On a couple of levels — stylistic and strategic — the Avalanche at least temporarily has become what the organization used to belittle.
With Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny on the injured list, this is the way the Avalanche probably has to play to remain afloat.
The Avs are not only playing Columbus and Minnesota, they're becoming Columbus and Minnesota.
Sad days in the Mile High City, that's for sure.
What makes me even more sad than I already am is Coach Q's decision to play Jose Theodore again tonight after his loss to Nashville two nights ago. Granted, I have long criticized the one-and-done strategy Q has employed with his losing goalies before, but this time letting Theo rest would have made sense. Tonight will be his tenth straight game.
There's a case to be made that he gave up three soft goals against Nashville because he was just plain tired and is in serious need of a chance to just relax and watch a game from the bench. Besides, Peter Budaj is pretty much just rotting there. This isn't San Jose. There's no reason to sit the backup goalie for three weeks when he's quite capable of playing almost every night himself. Giving Theodore a rest tonight would have been a better choice than playing him, I'd argue. But that's just me. I'm still waiting for that call from Francois Giguere where he pleads with me to take the reigns from Q.
The game starts tonight at 7:00 PM Mountain time, 9:00 PM Eastern. I may or may not be around to live blog, but my new notebook sure is fun to use, so we'll see what happens.