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February Fever

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February is shaping up to be a big month for yours truly. My wife will be celebrating another 29th birthday in the middle of the month. We'll be taking a trip to St Maarten on the 28th, just a couple of days after we discover if the Avalanche are buyers, sellers or non-committal (again) at the trade deadline. And, of course, it's one of the most important months on the Avs' schedule.

So far, the Avalanche have matched up fairly closely to where we were last year. Right now, we're 4 points ahead of last season - but that comparison is about to get a lot more difficult.

Before I go further, here's a breakdown of the first 4 months of the 2006-2007 and the first 4 months of this season:

Oct 2006: 5-4-2 (55% of the available points)
Nov 2006: 7-7-0 (50%)
Dec 2006: 6-7-0 (46%)
Jan 2007: 7-3-2 (67%)

Oct 2007: 7-4-0 (64%)
Nov 2007: 6-5-1 (54%)
Dec 2007: 8-5-2 (60%)
Jan 2008: 6-5-1 (54%)

Through the end of January last year, the Avs had a 25-21-4 and had collected 54% of the available points on the board. This year, we've improved by two wins: 27-19-4, good for 58% of the points.

Good news, right?

Yes and no. While it's impressive that this bruised and battered team has been able to stay ahead of last year's pace, that pace is going to be much tougher to match going forth. From February until the end of the season last year, the Avs went 19-10-3...collecting 64% of the available points.

The breakdown from the end of last year:
Feb 2007: 05-8-1 (39%)
Mar 2007: 11-1-2 (86%)
Apr 2007: 03-1-0 (75%)

Obviously, it's going a tall order to match the pace of those last two months (or month and partial month), even if our superstars start returning to the lineup. If we're going to stay ahead of last year's pace (which I think we have to do if we want to see the postseason), we're going to need to "make up" some points in February.

That won't be easy. Tonight's game against the Coyotes is just one of 4 home games this month. The other teams we face at home in February? St Louis, Detroit and Anaheim. Meanwhile, we have road game in San Jose, Vancouver and Chicago before finishing the month with an 8-day, 5-game swing through the West Coast (Anaheim and Phoenix) and western Canada (Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver). If this month is our make-or-break month (and I think it is), then that trip is shaping up to be one that decides our fate this season. Must-win, indeed.

I wasn't the one that picked the date for my Caribbean trip, but somehow I think getting away from hockey after that big Avalanche road trip may turn out to be really good timing.