||8:30 MT / 10:30 ET / 3:30 GMT
Los Angeles Kings
|35-19-6||February 13th, 2010
|76 pts||Staples Center
6th in the West
||Los Angeles, CA
5th in the West
I'll get this out of the way first: I'm still not a fan of the Ryan Smyth trade. Yes, Kyle Quincey has been good overall. Great, at times, but not often enough to make me forget that the Avalanche are a) carrying 7 other perfectly capable defensemen and b) Smyth has more goals than all the LWs not named Wolski on the Avalanche combined.
Okay, I've got that taken care of. Now I can mention that tonight's game is a big game - the last game for both teams before the Olympic break. A win by the Avalanche would move them into 3rd and guarantee them at least 5th place over the break. Certainly, the effort will need to be better than it has been for that to happen. The Avalanche have stolen two straight, but they won't keep having wins handed to them like that.
The debate today will be whether Craig Anderson gets yet another start tonight. Craig Anderson started his 15th consecutive game last night. Clearly, Joe Sacco is going to ride Andy straight into the ground. Or is he?
So, thanks to the great stats at hockey-reference.com, I broke down Anderson's stats this year based on how much rest he's had between starts. (not including last night's game)
I think we can safely assume that Andy is not affected by playing both ends of back-to-back games. Actually, he seems to do better with less rest between games. I included shots against per game because I found that trend to be kind of interesting as well. The Avalanche give up a boatload of shots in the 2nd game of a back-to-back, and their record isn't terrific. Fatigue may certainly be a factor for the rest of the team, but not for Craig Anderson. Clearly, Sacco should go with Anderson and rotate in some fresh players (John-Michael Liles and Ruslan Salei, for example).
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