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Game 66: Avalanche At Blackhawks, Preview And Open Thread

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Colorado Avalanche
3:00 pm ET / 1:00 pm MT
Chicago Blackhawks
28-36-1 March 8, 2009
36-18-9
57 points
United Center
41 points
15th in the West
Chicago, IL
4th in the Wast

We are in completely uncharted waters here. Since coming to Denver, the Avalanche have either been solidly in the playoff picture or fighting for a playoff spot, and have only played in one game where they weren't either (the final game of the 2006-2007 season, mostly memorable for the beatdown Ian Laperriere placed on Dion Phaneuf). This year, of course, the Avalanche will be playing meaningless games from here on out; techincally, they won't be mathematically eliminated for a while, but we all know that we're just going through the motions now. I'm not really sure if I should be rooting for the team to win, to lose (we're solidly in the bottom 4 right now, and seem to have an outside shot at 2nd worst overall), or for individuals to find their groove.

One of those individuals would be Peter Budaj, who starts this afternoon. On December 31st, Peter Budaj had a 2.73 GAA and a .902 save percentage - not exactly Vezina numbers, but not dreadful either. Since then, Budaj is 3-9 with a 3.80 GAA and .875. He's played poorly and his team has played even worse in front of him. The result? His confidence appears to be completely shot. I'd like to say that Budaj can get his game back over the rest of this season, but the way his defense is playing lately, I'm not sure that's possible.

Cody McLeod will miss the game with a shoulder injury. If I'm not mistaken, that's the first game he's missed since getting called up last season.

The Blackhawks are without Sammy Pahlsson, Patrick Sharp, Brent Sopel and Nikolai Khabibulin. Since Cristobal Huet played last night in Boston, the Blackhawks are expected to go with Finnish goalie Antti Niemi tonight. It's his 2nd career start...and you ALL know what that means.


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Peter Budaj 44 2512 16 25 1 4 127 3.03 1206 1079 .895 1


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Antti Niemi 2 82 1 0 1 0 3 2.20 30 27 .900 0


Tale of the Tape

Colorado Avalanche Chicago Blackhawks
57 27th
Points 81 7th
2.54
25th
GF/G 3.32 3rd
3.17
26th
GA/G 2.49 5th
16.5%
23rd
PP% 21.5% 6th
79.5%
23rd
PK% 81.1% 16th
48.3% 22nd FO% 47.1% 28th
12.7 6th PIM/G 14.7 21st