The Avalanche beat the Phoenix Coyotes last night in front of the smallest home crowd in team history: 11,012. That's not a lot of people for a building that holds 18,000+. Of course, there are lots of reasons for people to be discouraged from attending a hockey game in Denver, and Adrian Dater lists these "caveats" in his blog post after the game:
OK, first the caveats:
1. I know it’s still a bad economy.
2. I know it was a last-place team last year.
3. I know they probably aren’t as good as their record right now.
4. I know it was a Wednesday night in early November.
5. I know it was the Phoenix Coyotes who were the opponent.
But, caveats out the way: where was everybody tonight at the Pepsi Center?
I don't know about you, but I'd say those caveats answered his question for him. Every single reason for not attending he listed was significant in itself, but when you combine them with the high price of tickets, those factors working together are almost insurmountable. The low attendance illustrates this fact.
So, how do the Avs turn it around? Keep winning games, keep promoting the star players like Stastny, Duchene and Anderson, and lower ticket prices. Easy, right? Seems simple enough to me.
Speaking of Anderson, he got his first break of the season last night as backup goalie Peter Budaj filled in for him. Budaj, despite the delusional warnings of fans who hate him for no good reason at all, had an excellent game. He stopped 28 of 29 shots in the Avs' 4-1 victory, and was named the third star of the game. Not shabby for a guy who hadn't played since the pre-season.
For some reason, you can't talk about goaltending in the NHL without everyone throwing out all logic, reason and perspective. On one side are those that perceive Budaj as the WORST GOALIE EVER, despite his past flashes of brilliance. No doubt, he had a terrible season last year, but so did the Avs in general. Budaj is one of those goalies who is, without a doubt, only as good as the team in front of him. Last year the team was terrible, and he was terrible. This year the team is good, so he is good. That just seems to be the way he is.
But did Budaj's strong play last night threaten Craig Anderson's starting job in any way? That would seem to be an easy "no," but lord knows somebody has to go looking for controversies where they don't exist. Like the Associated Press, whose recap included:
That set a solid tone, especially with Budaj playing at the top of his game.
As for any talk of a goalie controversy, Sacco quickly quelled it.
"I go on a game-by-game basis and right now Craig's done a good job for us," Sacco said.
Who is talking about a goalie controversy? Who? There is no talk of a controversy. Craig Anderson was named the NHL player of the month for October, and has played extremely well through the start of the season. Nobody with any sense at all honestly thought Budaj's performance last night (good or bad) would have any effect on who coach Sacco relies on as his number one goalie.
Maybe it's been so long since the Avs had a star goaltender that nobody remembers how rotations are supposed to work. The starter plays a few games, the backup relieves him for one or two, then the starter plays a few more games. This is not difficult to understand. Unless you're an AP writer, I suppose.
Finally, I expected a big game from Paul Sastny last night and he certainly delivered. He assisted on three of the Avs' four goals, including Milan Hejduk's power play tip-in of a Kyle Quincey slap shot in the first period. I don't know why, but Son of Stastny just doesn't play well on the road. Get him home at the Pepsi Center, though, and he's money.