(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
I need to get a couple of items out of the way before I descend into some vitriolic ramblings. The Avalanche won 2-1 in overtime last night, beating an excellent goalie at the top of his game (Rick DiPietro). Colorado as a whole played very well - forwards, defensemen and, yes, goalie Jose Theodore. At the halfway mark, despite a rash of injuries to key players, the Avalanche have a respectable 47 points...3 more than they had at the 41-game point last season.
So why am I so annoyed with the team right now?
Let's start with Jose Theodore. Yes, after that early goal he looked very good. But that first goal is still stuck in my proverbial craw. Why does the man have to give up so many of those softies? Is it in his contract that he doesn't have to react to at least one shot per game? It's just one goal, but we were lucky to get two past DiPietro; we could have just as easily lost that game 1-0, all because of that muff. This team is going to have difficulty scoring - probably for the rest of the year - and those Frozen Jose goals are going to sink the team. So, while I apprecate that we won the game with Theo, it's worth pointing out that if we had DiPietro in net and they had Theodore, this game wouldn't have been close at all.
Oh, and the worst part about Theodore starting and getting the win? It means we'll see more of him in the future. I think you all know how that story ends.
On Friday, the Avalanche recalled defensemen Johnny Boychuk from the AHL. It was a curious move, because the Avalanche were already carrying seven defensemen but only had 12 healthy forwards, one of whom being the rarely-used Scott Parker. There was speculation that one of the defensemen - probably Jordan Leopold - was injured and the team was keeping it under wraps. Turns out, there was an injury the team wasn't making public - forward Brad Richardson. That's right, folks, with the team down to 11 forwards, they decided to call up a defenseman. To make a bizarre situation even, um, bizarrerer, the Avs didn't even dress Parker, choosing to dress EIGHT freaking defensemen and using Boychuk and Kyle Cumiskey at the forward position (on a line centered by Wojtek Wolski).
Really, Joel Quenneville? Seriously? Scott Parker is so bad that you'd rather throw a defenseman in his first NHL game out there instead? Nothing against Boychuk or Cumiskey, who both played acceptably in the limited ice time they saw, but this move is ridiculous. Want to experiment with one of these guys at wing for a game? Okay. But both? Why?????? How could Boychuk be a better option than, you know, guys who actually have significant experience at the forward position? I get that guys like Eric Healy, Wyatt Smith or freaking Mark Rycroft would need to clear waivers to come up. But other forwards like David Jones or Chris Stewart would not. Are we supposed to believe that Boychuk is a better option at forward right now than either of those guys? Seriously? If you want to give Boychuk a look, give him a real look - bring him up and let him play defense. And for the love of God, throw some actual forwards up there on the 4th line.
Speaking of the 4th line, how about that TJ Hensick? This guy's ice time has been all over the map, and he really hasn't gotten his game untracked yet (and would be in the minors now if not for injuries to other players). To give him a little help, Quenneville moved Hensick up to the 1st line last night, joining Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk on the left wing. Good move...but short-lived. Hensick got, by my count, 4 shifts with Stastny and Hejduk before getting dumped down to the 4th line and finished with just 13 shifts on the night. Way to stick with it, Joel.
The final entry on the Cheap Seat's Shit List is the powerplay (I really think "power" should be in quotes, there, because there's nothing powerful about ours). The latest fiasco in the What The Hell Is Quenneville Doing On The "Power" Play Saga was the appearance of a new point man last night. With 8 defensemen in the lineup, you'd think it would be one of them, right? It wasn't. It was Milan Hejduk. While Hejduk's hands give him the ability to keep bouncing pucks in at the blueline, I don't think that's quite enough to warrant using him on the point. Hejduk did not look comfortable back there (he didn't register a PP shot in the game) at all, but Q stuck with him for the entire game. How come he can stick with this, but can't keep Hensick on the same line for a full game?
I know I've got this all backwards. I'm supposed to be critical when the team loses and positive when the team wins. And I really do think the players did very well against the Islanders. I just don't think the coaching staff is at the top of their game right now. Hell, I'm starting to question the sanity of certain individuals.
We won despite some awful coaching decisions. I'm not all that angry about that. What makes me angry is that I think that in Q's world we won because of those awful decisions. So don't be shocked if we see 8 defensemen again. Just don't expect another win the next time that happens. Unless you are as crazy as our coach.
Notes are here.
Apparently, Brad Richardson is having trouble again with his shoulder. He missed the game, as did Cody McCormick. Scott Parker was a healthy scratch *sigh*. Wojtek Wolski started the game as the center on the 4th line, but was moved up to the 1st line in the 2nd period (and Hensick dropped down). Wolski was the best player on the ice.
- Stastny, Wokski, Hejduk
- Brunette, Hlinka, Svatos
- McLeod, Guite, Laperriere
- Hensick, Boychuk, Cumiskey
- Hannan & Leopold
- Liles & Finger
- Clark & Skrastins
- The Avs won 62% of their draws, which I believe is their 2nd best game of the season in the circle (they won 62.7% on Nov 11 against the Wild)
- Svatos now leads the team in goals with 16. His two assists, though, are less than Wyatt Smith managed in 25 games.
- Ben Guite led both teams with 5 shots.
After a long, cushy home stand the Avs have a tough road trip ahead of them - 5 games in 5 cities in the span of a week, including two back-two-back games. They start the festivities off in Detroit on Tuesday before taking on the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday.