We're here for round two of the Avalanche Blogger Roundtable. If you haven't already done so, please check out Question 1 for an explanation on how this all work. Question number 2 covers team toughness and can be found after the jump
The Avalanche had 61 major penalties last year which is the most by any Avalanche team since the 1998-1999 club that featured Jeff Odgers, Warren Rychel, Adam Deadmarsh, Wade Belak and Scott Parker and only six teams had more majors last season. We know about the speed and skill that this young team possesses…do we give the toughness enough credit?
Mike Verminski, Put It On Ice & The Hockey Writers: No, I don’t think we do. Fights get the crowd and bench fired up like nothing else can. I know that when I played hockey and there little skirmishes here and there everyone on the bench was cheering and yelling and it got all of us fired up and ready to go kick some ass. It acts as a motivator for the team. Playing in an 82 game season I imagine it can get a little mundane now and again and the toughness gives it a little bit of an edge to help get the boys fired up.
Angélique Murray, Avs Prospects, Mile High Hockey, Chicks Who Give A Puck: We may look at David Koci and snicker, but overall the Avs are a young and aggressive group. Sure you have your skilled players in Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, but they have plenty of grit in skilled players like Chris Stewart and TJ Galiardi. The addition of Daniel Winnik will only help!
Matt Powell, The Burgundy Blog: I don't think we give the team's toughness enough credit. But again, it needs to be effective toughness. As mentioned, we have a young team, but not many of them are very big. We've got a lot of young, small (for the moment) players. We know that when something small hits something big, it often doesn't have much of an effect. However, if our guys become a bit more effective toughness, these kids will really get under the skin of opposing NHL teams. TJ Galiardi learned about effective toughness during last year's playoffs against the Sharks.
Terry Frei, Denver Post: Probably not, but many of those majors were of the sideshow variety, which I consider virtually irrelevant. I understand the power forward precedents, but Chris Stewart should be picking his spots more carefully now. Ryan Wilson is a concussion away from retirement. Matt Hendricks is gone - I would like to have seen him return - but I've never been a fan of the fourth-liner fighting for "energy" and "spark" sake. And David Koci -- great guy, but he's not even good at his alleged role. If fighting has a place in the game - and I can make an argument for it, too - it's for deterrence and accountability reasons. If the "toughness" stems from that, fine.
Paul's Coffey, Mile High Hockey: Yes and no. Majors aren't the only measure of toughness. So even though "only six more teams had more majors", I wouldn't crown the Avalanche the 7th toughest team in the league last season. On the flip side, we definitely do not give this young team credit enough for their physical side. And with the exposure last year to the post season, and the meteoric rise of warriors like Galiardi and Stewart in the toughness department, we should revel in the brawn and brutishness that this young team boasts. Last thing, toughness
is earned through reputation. So last season reputations had to be earned, while this year, reputations should precede, and so should our celebrations that toughness.
Shane Giroux, Avs Talk: I'm not really sure how much toughness the team is or is no being credited with but I'm happy with the level of grit I've seen from players like Cody Mcleod, T.J. Galiardi, Chris Stewart and the ever-bitchy Adam Foote. With Jonas Holos sticking around, it should help build up the grit of the defensive corps which has been soft in recent years. They're a sleeper team as far as toughness goes and I'm fine with it staying that way.
Grant Beery, Hockeyism: Getting into a fight doesn't mean you won the fight. This team lost a lot of grit over the past two offseasons. I'm all for toughness, but lately it's been coming at the expense of discipline. Odgers and Rychel have won Stanley Cups. Koci can barely navigate his way through the neutral zone.
Stephen Crociata, Patrick Kane's Loose Change: We may not have given toughness enough credit but keying in strictly on fighting expect to see a drop from last year. With Hendricks not returning and Koci likely to get reduced TOI with the Winnik signing (we hope) the Avs are losing two of their top 3 fighters. Then you have guys like Galiardi and O'Reilly who may not drop the gloves but bring toughness and grit for a full three periods. The Avalanche must remain physical and avoid being bullied or else another 1st round playoff exit is a definite.
Matt Jordan, Mile High Mayhem: There is a line between a "tough" team and a stupid team. Unfortunately, we're not on the right side of the line. I think a player like David Koci is dragging the team down. Remember, there was a streak of 5 games last season where his PIM was more than TOI.
Courtney Beckham, Chicks Who Give A Puck: We do not give the youngsters enough credit for being tough partially because it hasn't won us any championships in the past. 98-99 we didn't win a Stanley Cup, last season we didn't win a Stanley Cup. While it's important to be tough it's more important to outscore the other team. I for one would rather see the guys taking more effective shots on goal. This pre-season we've seen them rifle off more shots but they were ineffective, practically aimed at the goalie. This team has a long way to go before they make the Stanley Cup, how long in time it takes is up to them, but the lessons they need to learn - well they have the capability to do that in a season or two.
From The Point, Real Denver Sports: Perhaps one of the things Sacco doesn't get credit for is the toughness of this team. Or perhaps it isn't him that deserves it. Maybe it's just a product of the young guns, full of testosterone and playing hard. Maybe it's the influence of the captain. Regardless, Duchene made some comments recently that acknowledge that he needed to get tougher to keep other teams from taking advantage of him. Yes, the guys that stepped up in the toughness department deserve a lot of credit, as much as the speed and skill guys. It's just not the glamorous part of the game.
Ryan Boulding, The Burgundy Blog: The toughness is something that is often overlooked, if not mislabeled. When teams look at the Avalanche, they see David Koci as an enforcer. Beyond him and his lost fights, hard nosed, grinding type players like Matt Hendricks, Cody McLeod and even Chris Stewart (for a time) were really carrying the burden of the team. Being physical is a major part of the game and it definitely helps when your talent can throw down as well. Hell, even Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos fought last year. People label this team as young but they have grit as well.
Marc Parsons, Hendricks Hockey: I think the toughness on this team is not going to be with one tough guy on the team but with many. The avs have the guys that will drop the gloves when they need too, such as, Chris Stewart, Ryan Wilson, Cody McLeod, Kyle Quincey, Daniel Winnik and the Useless David Koci. Even Brandon Yip has thrown down. With Cody McLeod having such a big heart when it comes to getting the team to play better, the team will step up huge this year.
David Driscoll-Carignan, Mile High Hockey: I wrote the question, so I'll say that my answer is a resounding yes. Honestly, I was surprised when I stumbled across that stat. In fact, I actually was trying to quantify how the Avs' toughness had declined recently since losing guys like Ian Laperriere and Cody McCormick. Turns out, the Avalanche are a deceptively tough squad, with a number of guys able to bring the pain.
Adam Hersh, An Avalanche of Thoughts: Today, I met new Koci replacement, Patrick Bordeleau. I asked him if he was going to kick Kings goon Westgarth's ass tonight for breaking Koci's jaw, and he replied "I HOPE SO!" Throughout the entire game, I was on the edge of my seat to see the two monstrosities have at it, but nope.. nothing. I don't even think there was any chirping between them! What a letdown Patrick! Thanks a lot. Wait, what was the question? Something about toughness? Sure. Go Avs!!!
Andy Robbins, Avs Weekly: Avs media and fans, on the whole, seem to forget about the sheer toughness exuded by this hockey club. Last season, David Koci, Matt Hendricks, Cody McLeod, and Chris Stewart all mixed it up quite a bit. Stewart really stirred things up in the beginning of the season before taking it easier to avoid injury and to put more pucks in the net. In order to protect this youthful, energetic talent, a tough presence is more than necessary. Cody McLeod and Daniel Winnik will provide an immense amount of tough play this season, while people optimistically take extra notice. The toughness of this team may help sell further tickets too.
Jaye Horbay, Patrick Kane's Loose Change: Here I thought the question was going to be about how the team will cut down on the amount of stupid penalties Kyle Quincey took. I think we can attribute most of the ‘toughness' last season to Chris ‘God Damn' Stewart. (We all know we can't credit Koci with anything.) But one person in particular I don't think gets enough credit is Cody McLeod. Who's the first one to mix it up after someone runs Andy? (Besides Andy) The Red Headed Beast. Bet that he'll muck it up more this season.
Aaron Musick, Hockeybuzz: This team is not just physically tough but it is mentally tough and it all happened on that first long roadtrip of the season. During that trip the team stood tall and came together and became tough. On this team, everyone does everything and it's all for the A on the front, not the name on the back (looking at you Melo).
Mike Thompson, Mile High Hockey: Probably not.
Finally, don't forget Jay Vean's podcast with his answers over at Avs Hockey Podcast
This question got the least number or responses and is the only one of the nine that doesn't really lend itself to a poll. As always, now it's your chance to weigh in on the Avs' toughness. Do you think of the Avalanche as one of the more physical teams in the league?