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The 2010-2011 Avalanche Season Recap

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What follows is a short* little recap of the recently completed Avalanche season, so that we can throw this in a time capsule and move on. Hopefully, I haven't let out any of the major highlights or lowlights.

* okay, maybe not so short


September 23rd: In the Avs' 2nd exhibition game, forward Peter Mueller plays in his first game since suffering a concussion at the gentlemanly hands ass of Rob Blake on April 4th. Meuller, taking the ice without a newer, concussion-resistant helmet plays the entire game. After the game, however, it is announced that Mueller has another concussion. He would ultimately miss the entire season in an example of the most blatant bit of real-life foreshadowing of all time.

October 26th (Game 9): Peter Budaj is the scheduled starter with the Avalanche visiting the Vancouver Canucks. During pre-game warm ups, Craig Anderson injures his knee and skates off gingerly to the locker room and doesn't return. He misses the next 9 games (John Grahame replaces him on the roster, but Budaj plays all the games). The Avalanche lose 4-3 in OT.

October 28th (Game 10): Chris Stewart nets a hat trick and the Avalanche put up 6 against the Flames in Calgary in a 6-5 win, but John-Michael Liles is held scoreless. His streak of 9 games with an assist to start the season was a new NHL record. His 9-game season-opening point streak was the longest since Doug Wilson's 10-game streak in 1981-1982.

November 11th: The Avalanche acquire Ryan O'Byrne for prospect Michael Bournival. The 6'5" O'Byrne immediately upgrades the Avs' blueline in terms of size and toughness.

November 24th (Game 21): In his first game back to Rogers Arena since suffering a knee injury during warm ups, Anderson injures his groin against Vancouver and leaves after the first period.  He misses the next three games, with Jason Bacashihua getting the call this time to serve as Peter Budaj's back-up. The Avalanche lose 4-2. Anderson is 3-9-1 3.34 .887 all-time against Vancouver.

November 27th (Game 23): The Avalanche obliterate the Wild 7-3 and Chris Stewart obliterates Kyle Brodziak in a fight (a response to a bunch of chirping from the Wild bench, as his hand gestures while skating off would indicate). Unfortunately, Stewart breaks his hand in the fight and he misses the next 21 games. The Avs struggle in his absence (9-7-5).

November 29th: The Avalanche send prospect Colby Cohen to the Boston Bruins for Matt Hunwick. This is an odd move, as Cohen is a guy thought to have a good deal of potential and Hunwick is a smallish offensive defenseman - something the Avalanche have a cupboard full of. Hunwick would score 10 points in 51 games with the Avs to finish with 13 in 73 games. Cohen finishes the season with 14 points 63 games (most of them in the AHL). Although Hunwick's play improves substantially after some early post-trade struggles, this trade remains a bit of a head-scratcher.

November 30th: GM Greg Sherman completes his 3rd trade in a month. Scott Hannan waives his no-trade clause and is traded to the Washington Capitals for forward Tomas Fleischmann. The trade looks great from the Avs perspective with Flash scoring 21 points in 22 games mostly playing with Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk.

December 4th (Game 26): Kevin Shattenkirk scores a point in his 9th consecutive game. This would end up being the longest rookie scoring streak of the season.

December 11th (Game 29): In a 3-2 win against Washington, Kyle Quincey attempts to check Alex Ovechkin but ends up getting shoved hard into the boards, injuring his shoulder and ending his season. The artist formerly known as bad motherfucker ended the season with more healthy scratches (3) than points (1).

December 15th (Game 31): Tomas Fleischmann scores 3 3rd-period goals as the Avs down the Hawks 4-3 and our bang bang dance jokes hit their saturation point. Flash's natural hat trick is one of 6 on the season (Tavares, Hall, Franzen and 2 by Semin).

December 19th (Game 33): The Avalanche beat the Canadians 3-2 at the Pepsi Center to improve their record to 19-10-4. The win is the 6th in a row for the Avalanche, their second winning streak of 3 or more games on the season. It's also the last winning streak of 3 or more games - the Avalanche would go 11-34-4 the rest of the way. This game is the high point of the season.

December 21st (Game 34): The Avalanche are shutout 5-0 by the LA Kings, making them the 2nd-to-last team to avoid a shutout (St Louis held off until February 27th, when they were shutout in back-to-back games by the Flames). The Avs would end up getting shut out 6 times on the season. FML.

December 24th (Game 35): The Avalanche have a chance to move into a tie for first place, but fall 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild. It's Craig Anderson's 9th straight start - what would turn out to be his longest streak of the season. In the recap, we point out how Anderson's stats have really been slipping. Hmmm, I wonder how this turns out.

January 20th: A large gut punch in a season full of large gut punches: Tomas Fleischmann is diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. Thankfully, he will be okay. Unfortunately, the blood thinners he needs to use to treat it force him to miss the rest of the season. At the time, the Avalanche ranked 4th in the league with a  3.24 goal per game average. They would finish 18th, with a 2.70 scoring average.

January 22nd (Game 48): The Avalanche lose to the Bruins 6-2 at home. It's the Avs' 5th and final sellout at the Pepsi Center this year.

January 24th (Game 49): Ryan Stoa scores the game winner as the Avalanche beat the Blues 4-3. Kevin Shattenkirk scores his last goal as an Avalanche. It's his 7th of the year, which will be tops among Avalanche blueliners at the end of the year. Within a few weeks, he'll be wearing a St Louis uniform.

January 27th: We gaze into our crystal ball and predict that Craig Anderson will sign an extension worth $3.5 million and Peter Budaj will be traded at the deadline. We're pretty sharp: Anderson eventually signed a deal worth just shy of $3.2 million. Of course, it was with Ottawa and Budaj wasn't traded. So, forget we said anything.

February 6th: After a few weeks of exploratory practices with the Avalanche, Peter Forsberg decides to give the ankle one final try, signing with the Avs for the rest of the season.

February 9th (Game 54): In just his 7th game since returning from missing 34-games with a concussion, Kyle Cumiskey is hit by Minnesota's Eric Nystrom early in the first period of a 3-2 loss. He would miss the rest of the season with whiplash. We're still waiting on word as to whether he will be attempting to sue Mrs. Brady for damages.

February 11th (Game 55): Forsberg makes his season debut with the Avalanche, playing on the left wing on a line with Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk. Although he is held scoreless, he looks good.

February 14th (Game 57): One of the worst days in Avalanche history. Milan Hejduk gets a year older. Peter Forsberg decides that his ankle isn't going to work and he abruptly retires just a few hours before his home ice debut. Later that night, the Avalanche are completely decimated by the Calgary Flames in a 9-1 St Valentine's Day Massacre - the team's worst loss since moving to Denver. And the most depressing news of all? Just over 14,000 purchased tickets for what would have been Forsberg's Pepsi Center debut.

February 18th: Craig Anderson is traded to the Ottawa Senators for goalie Brian Elliott. At the time, Anderson is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent the following summer; Elliott will be an RFA. After the deal, Anderson exceled in Ottawa: 11-5-1 2.05 .939. Elliott went 2-8-1 3.83 .891. Anderson's strong play for Ottawa ultimately improves the Avs' draft position. So, there's that.

February 19th: Since the Anderson deal only qualified as a minor bombshell, the Avalanche and Blues got their big guns together in a deal involving 4 past and future first-round picks. The Avalanche sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk and a 2011 or 2012 2nd round pick to the Blues for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a 2011 or 2012 1st round pick. It's the biggest NHL trade of the year. Mile High Hockey readers are undecided - in a poll of 831 readers, 263 liked the deal, 282 disliked the deal and 286 were undecided.

February 21st: Adrian Dater reports that the Avalanche offered Anderson a 2-year, $7.5 million deal last summer. Presumably, Anderson wanted a longer deal (he would later sign a 4-year deal with Ottawa) and talks broke down, resulting in the trade.

February 22nd (Game 60): In the first Stl-Col matchup since the big trade, the Avalanche beat the Blues 4-3. Erik Johnson, Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk all found their way to the score sheet. It's the first regulation win for the Avs in their last 11 games...and their last one of the season.

February 23rd (Game 61): Edmonton's Taylor Hall gets delusions of grandeur and attempts to fly. Unfortunately, he can't fly and his skate comes up and slices Ryan O'Byrne in the face. O'Byrne would require about 100 stitches to close the gash, but not before spending another 45 seconds or so bleeding profusely while finishing his shift. He would miss a grand total of four games with the horrific injury. We don't tease him about purse snatching anymore.

February 26th (Game 62): John-Michael Liles scores 2 assists in a 4-3 loss to Los Angeles. The points give him 40 for the season, making 41% of roundtable readers look really smart. Liles would finish the season tied with Duchene for the assist lead - the first defenseman in franchise history to do that. Oh, and the 8 people who voted for Kevin Shattenkirk also get partial credit, as he'd end up with 43. Sigh.

Februrary 28th: The trade deadline fire sale never materializes and the only move the Avalanche make is to send Kevin Montgomery to the Oilers for Shawn Belle. For the 19th consecutive season, John-Michael Liles is heavily rumored to be moving but stays put.

March 19th (Game 71): Ryan Stoa scores the lone shootout goal to give the Avs a 3-2 SO win and stopping the team's 2nd 10-game losing streak of the year. This game is the only game all year that the Avalanche won when scoring 2 goals or less (1-37-4 on the season).

March 25th: The Avalanche hire some new stoolie for the front office: Joe Sakic. Exactly what his duties will entail aren't announced yet, but it's a safe bet that snow blowing the Pepsi Center parking lot is not on the list.

March 26th (Game 74): Milan Hejduk scores his 20th goal of the season in a 4-1 loss. That's his 11th straight 20-goal season, tying the franchise record by his new boss.

April 1st (Game 77): It sounds like an April Fool's joke, but it isn't. With Cameron Gaunce breaking his finger the night before against Nashville, the Avs are down to 5 healthy defensemen. No worries - they just pop David Koci back there, as it's his natural position. And, surprise - he plays well. He'll finish the season with 4 games on D, all solid. The Avs would finish up with 474 man-games lost to injury - by far a franchise record. The Avs win in the shootout for win #100 for Peter Budaj and moving them to 6-1 on the season and 11-1 in their last 12 shootouts. In one of the most ironic twists ever, the Avalanche set a record with fewest shootout goals allowed and highest shootout save percentage in a season. Budaj finishes the season with the 2nd best save percentage in the shootout, 2nd only to...oh frig, Craig Anderson.

April 7th (Game 80): With injuries to John-Michael Liles and Matt Hunwick, the Avalanche recall Shawn Belle and Ray Macias for the game against Dallas (a 4-2 loss). Macias becomes the 17th defensemen used by the Avalanche this year. 17. Also, someone must have finally told Brandon Yip that the season has started. He scores a goal tonight and two more the following night. This following 20 games without a point (he was -16 over the stretch)

April 8th (Game 81): Eleven Avalanche players miss the game against Dallas due to injury - 4 forwards (Mueller, Stastny, Galiardi, Fleischmann) and 7 defensemen (Foote, Liles, Johnson, Quincey, Hunwick, Cumiskey, Gaunce). Oh, and the Avs lose 3-2 to lock up this as their worst season in Avalanche history.  

April 10th (Game 82): A few days after announcing his retirement, Adam Foote plays in his final game for the Avalanche  - a 4-3 OT win against Edmonton. It is later revealed that the "leg injury" that had kept Foote out of action recently was, in fact, a fractured ankle. Foote played over 15 minutes in the game. The Avalanche improve to 8-4-3 in season finales since moving to Denver. Also, Matt Duchene becomes the youngest player in franchise history to lead the team in scoring. And Milan Hejduk moved past Forsberg to sole possession of 4th place on the franchise scoring list (757 points). He also became the 5th player in franchise history to record 400 assists.


I'm sure I left out something in my haste to get this done. Okay, I've been working on it all week, but let me know anyway if anything needs to be added.