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Game 78: Canucks At Avalanche, Preview And Open Thread

For those of you living in a cave, this game is important.  Critical.  Win-or-die-trying critical.  A win tonight moves the Avs out of eighth place in the West and into seventh, and a much better position playoff-wise.  Sure, the San Jose Sharks are freakin' mean as hell, but the Avs beat them twice this year already and I honestly believe they could beat them again.  Maybe.  The Wings?  Eh, not so much.

Beating Vancouver tonight is one of those "four point games" against a divisional foe they'll only face one more time this season.  The Avs lead the series 4-2 so far, and could really make a statement by drubbing a team I think is probably the weakest overall of any of the Northwest Division right now.

A loss tonight makes it that much easier for Nashville (or Edmonton!) to catch them and steal the final playoff seed.

All this said, I'm still on the fence about making the playoffs.  The win against Calgary changes nothing.  Coach Q needs to go at the end of the year and the team needs a new direction.  It speaks volumes that the Avalanche won easily when Quenneville stopped being Quenneville.  He left his lines intact, he played Peter Forsberg a lot less, he didn't tell the Avs to stop attacking once they got the lead, and he had confidence in a briefly struggling goalie---all new things for him.  The result?  Calgary didn't stand a chance.

So, it's clear that any additional wins the Avalanche can tally before the season ends will be despite the natural coaching style of Joel Quenneville, not because of it.  But will the Avalanche front office recognize that?  Though they remain silent about the topic, you have to assume that they will.

At least, I want to assume that.

Adam Foote isn't ready to play yet (from what I've read), but everybody else is still on board and Theodore will start in net again tonight.  Hopefully Forsberg plays less than 15 minutes again, which seemed to help him immensely in the Calgary game.  And hopefully he scores a goal.  Altitude mentioned it first, and then it came up again in the comments here---the Avalanche are 119-14-25 when Forsberg scores a goal.  That's ridiculous.  Part of me wonders if the team benefited that much from a single player or if a single player just benefited from being on a crazy good team for so long.  Who knows?  Who cares?

It's time for Foppa to score a goal.  Make it happen.

The game starts at 7:00 PM Mountain time, 9:00 PM Eastern, as usual.

ESPN preview.