Six games in, and this season is already shaping up to be a bit...odd. The Avalanche started the season by losing games that they should have won. Now, they are winning games they easily could have lost.
We thought the Avalanche would be improved offensively, and that's definitely been the case. The Avs lead the league in scoring (24 goals) and (might want to sit down for this) are 2nd in the league in powerplay goals (8). The offense didn't look particularly sharp against the Kings - they only mustered 16 shots against a suspect Los Angeles defense and goalie Jason LaBarbera looked AWFUL. However, they made those shots count. Ryan Smyth scored twice, including his gorgeous game winner in which he turned around LA rookie Drew Doughty. Milan Hejduk and David Jones also scored (although both were nice goals, both were shots that should have been stopped).
Unfortunately, the improvements to the offense seem to be directly proportional to the slide in our defense and goaltending. Too often our defensemen are getting caught in the wrong spot, and they've been getting outhustled consistently this year. Our defense is notorious for slow starts and it's a quality group of players, so I'm hoping this ship gets righted soon. Peter Budaj got the win (his first win since March 13th). He didn't look as bad as, say, Andrew Raycroft looked against the Stars, but he still doesn't seem to be on his game. The Kings missed a lot of scoring chances wide of the net, and I feel Budaj and the Avs were lucky to escape with a victory. Hopefully, this win will build up his confidence.
Tony Granato has yet to change his defensive pairings. I'm glad he's not overreacting, like we've seen in the past. However, something needs to be done to wake the D up a bid. John-Michael Liles has generally been the only one working hard out there.
The ITCS report is up
- The reported attendance at the Staples Center was 13,891, the 8th lowest NHL attendance this year
- Peter Budaj was making just his 9th regular season start in the 2008 calendar year. He had 76 starts in 2007.
- 15 of the 19 skaters the Avalanche have dressed so far this year have a goal.
- There was only 1 icing called in the game.
The Avalanche host the Oilers on Thursday. Edmonton looked off in their opener against the Avs (although the Oilers won), but they're now 4-0, with 4 1-goal wins to start the year. Meanwhile, that opening Avalanche game has sparked a bit of controversy in Edmonton. If you're interested, there's a lot of good commentary about that story.