photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP
What is it about the last 19 games of the season that the post-Lockout Avalanche like so much? So far, the Avs are 5-0-0 in the last 19 this season, and only need eight more wins to reach that magical 94-point plateau that should mean a spot in the playoffs.
In a game punctuated by big saves instead of big goals, Wojtek Wolski was the lone scorer, beating Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller top shelf with a superb one-timer. Andrew Brunette and Paul Stastny were credited with assists. Hopefully Wolski is on his way out of Coach Q's doghouse, and hopefully this kind of effort from him continues.
Still no points for Peter Forsberg, but once again his line (with Sakic and Hejduk) was dangerous the entire game and got a few good chances. His points will come.
Jose Theodore was in full Pimp Cane mode, stopping all 27 shots he faced, including a dangerous breakaway by Corey Perry early in the game. Theo is definitely one of the most improved players in the entire league, and continues to dominate games like he hasn't since earlier this decade. I'm starting to think a contract renewal wouldn't be such a bad idea---as long as it's less than $6 million, of course.
The other stars of the game were the Colorado defensemen, who played superbly throughout the game. Turnovers were rare. Rarely was anyone caught out of position. They were hitting, poke checking, and clogging the passing lanes. It was good to see. Adam Foote had another strong game (and no dumb penalties), John-Michael Liles was hitting for a change (see photo above), Scott Hannan wasn't making mistakes and Kurt Sauer was using his size to block scoring rushes. Ruslan Salei was the penalty magnet this time, however, but his two hooking penalties didn't really detract from his strong game overall. All in all, a great performance by the Colorado D.
ADDENDUM: Oh, and I'd like to thank the fans at the Pepsi Center for booing Todd Bertuzzi every second he touched the puck. It's been a while now since he threw away his humanity, but Colorado fans should never let him forget it. Until the day he retires (and maybe even after), he should be booed in Denver---relentlessly. What a waste of air.
The Avs now face an even harder test. They play a home-and-home series against the Stars starting Saturday in Denver and ending on Sunday in Dallas. Dallas is one of the best teams in the league and my personal "favorite" to win the Cup this year. Coach Dave Tippett has done wonders with a team that isn't all that impressive on paper and goalie Marty Turco continues to show why he's one of the best in the league. They will be, as Stephen Colbert says, "A Formidable Opponent."
Stars of the Game:
- Jose Pimp Cane Theodore (27sv, 1.000)
- Wojtek Wolski (1g, 0a)
- Jonas Hiller (29 sv, .967)