Mike continued today's foreshadowing theme with the following comment on this morning's recap:
So we’ve reached the point where the Avs have to beat the opposition 1-0 in order to get a win? If that was management’s plan, then they are smoking some of the greatest weed ever.
There are many reasons why this team is mired near the bottom of the standings. Injuries, average goaltending, inconsistent defense, terrible special teams and a mysterious lack of physical play would certainly be on the shortlist. But there's one reason that stands head and shoulders above everything: They. Can't. Score.
You can say what you want about Peter Budaj being "just ok" this year (Terry and Adrian, this means you). He has been. But here's the catch: he was supposed to be "just ok". It's the team in front of him that was supposed to be better.
The Avalanche have about 2% of their payroll devoted to goaltending this year. Budaj and Andrew Raycroft will combine to cost $1.5 million in cap space - 31 goalies will make more than that this year. Budaj hasn't quite been as good as we had hoped, but he's not all that far off from what we expected - a solid, consistent goalie who will keep you in the game.
This team was not built to win 2-1. The Avs have 9 players who've tallied 20 goals in a season and 5 defensemen who've reached the 30-point mark. Offense was supposed to be the name of the game. Remember, Francois Giguere was looking for a coach to play an up-tempo style. This team was supposed to score 3+ goals a game. As long as Budaj could keep the opposition to at or under 3 goals a game, the Avs would win a majority. He's done his part, 26 times. His teammates in front have not - he's 13-12-1 in those 26 starts.
When Granato was hired, he said this:"As far as system, we will design a system that allows these guys to show their talents and hopefully have career years."
Career years? Almost everyone has been a disappointment this year. Those 9 20-goal players? The Avs are on pace to have 2. One of the 9, Darcy Tucker, has all of 5 goals. Another, Tyler Arnason has 3. There are 71 NHL defensemen with more goals than that. The 30-point defensemen? John-Michael Liles may be the only guy to reach that mark for the Avs, although there are 18 blueliners in the NHL who are already there. Meanwhile, Adam Foote and Scott Hannan have contributed 7 points in 83 games. Of the players with at least 82 career games going into this season, there's only one who will reach his career high in points this year. That player would be Cody McCormick, who is one point from his career best of...8.
I'm not an X's and O's guy, but I haven't seen much this year that screams "up-tempo". To these eyes, it looks a lot like the old dump, chase and cycle system we've been watching since the lockout. And we certainly haven't seen anything resembling "career years", unless you want to count Cody McLeod (103 NHL games) or rookie Chris Stewart. I honestly don't know who to blame for this miserable season. Granato? The players? Dumb luck? One thing I do know: it's not because of the goaltending.