And I'm a little bit rock 'n roll
I'm a little bit of Memphis and Nashville
With a little bit of Motown in my soul
I don't know if it's good or bad
But I know I love it so
I'm a little bit country
And I'm a little bit rock 'n roll
There is no Avalanche player on the roster today who is more divisive than Peter Budaj. Some guys come close (Brett Clark, for example), but Budaj takes the cake. When he plays, our normally kumbaya community goes to their respective corners. Some have faith in Budaj, no matter what happens on the ice. Others blame Budaj for every goal, no matter what happens on the ice.
In reality, Peter Budaj wasn't very sharp tonight. Then again, you can say that about pretty much everyone wearing an Avalanche unipron not named Duchene, Jones, Cumiskey or Hejduk. But Budaj is the goalie, and he's got to be better than that. He's certainly got to be better than the other goalie, especially when it's a backup WHO'S GOT A HYPHEN IN HIS NAME. Budaj wasn't.
So, Budaj detractors can do their little Tyler Weiman dance tonight and I, a devoted Budaj backer, won't complain. But I think you should know one thing: Budaj isn't the only reason we lost.
A funny thing happened tonight. Well, not "ha ha" funny, but I think you'll get the idea. Even though the Avs weren't playing at their best (perhaps due more to fatigue than anything else), they have a 2-gpal lead at the midway point of the game, thanks mostly to the 4 guys named two paragraphs up. When Kyle Cumiskey embarrassed Deslauriers to make it 4-2, the Oilers were pissed. And they started to unravel. They started cheap-shotting our players. Some, like the brutal Gilbert Brule board on Paul Stastny or about 3 cheap shots from Jason Strudwick, didn't get called. Others, like the Sheldon Souray cross-check across Wojtek Wolski's face, did. Edmonton was coming undone.
The Avalanche had two courses of action available to them. They could stoop to Edmonton's level of immaturity and give them the goon right back to them, or they could take the high road and convert on the 5 on 3 powerplays handed to them on a silver platter. Instead, Colorado went with option C - none of the above. I'm sorry, folks, but C is the wrong answer.
While I'm disturbed that the Avs could not score on the powerplay, I'm not really surprised. The Avalanche have made some strides in that area, but there's still lots of work to be done (obviously). The Avs have slipped to 16th overall in PP efficiency, and even Peter McNab is whispering in his company-mandated-shiny way that the team needs to get better there. What really gets me, though, is that the Oilers took shots at our players all night long and no one did a thing about it. David Koci? Planted firmly on the bench for the final 35 minutes of the game (does he even bother to come out of the locker room for the 3rd periods?). Cody McLeod? I know he played, because he was -4, but he certainly wasn't taking care of business. Tucker? Stewart? Anyone? This is really the one area where the Avs have taken a significant step backwards this year. Last year, someone would have stepped in when Stasny is getting slammed face first into the boards, or when Marek Svatos is getting cross-checked to the ice after three straight whistles. Is it as simple as missing guys like Lappy or Cody McCormick? Is it a coaching thing? I suspect it might be more of the latter, as Chris Stewart had about 5 fights at this point last year, while he just had his first one last night. And, of course, David Koci may be talented but he can't protect anyone from the bench. I'm all about playing disciplined hockey, but our guys have been getting pushed around all year and I'm sick of this team turtleing. I'm also angry that I don't know how to spell turtleing. Oh well.
I'll say this: if we lose 6-4 but I watched our tough guys answer the bell in the 2nd period, it would still be a loss, but I'd be much less disappointed in the team right now.
- Wolski - Stastny - Jones
- Tucker - Duchene - Hejduk
- McLeod - O'Reilly - Stewart
- Koci - Durno - Svatos
- Quincey - Hannan
- Cumiskey - Clark
- Preissing - Wilson
- The Avalanche won the faceoff battle for the 2nd straight game
- The McLeod, O'Reilly and Stewart line was a combined -9 with 2 shots.
The Avalanche are in Vancouver on Friday. Oh joy.