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Sunday Open Thread: Close To Turning the Corner or Just an Illusion?

Colorado Avalanche v San Jose Sharks Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Good morning all. The Avs returned home last night after playing 5 periods of good hockey and receiving one point for their efforts. Mistakes and lack of finish in the o-zone continue to plague them but signs of improvement are getting clearer every game.

- Spencer Martin made his NHL debut and looked very promising. Two things stand out over the Avs other goalies’ performance so far this year: Size and puck-handling. Varly’s hopeless dealing with the puck and Calvin has improved a lot since he turned pro but Marty looked confident and aggressive making passes. I’ve seen this blow up in his face before so it’s not without downside but this is becoming more and more important in today’s NHL.

Other than that he looked very similar to Picks normal level of play and Varly in the odd game when he’s actually healthy. If you want to look at this as a control, it makes the case that the goalies have a ceiling that’s determined by the team in front of them at this point and not the other way around.

- If you focus on the 5 periods the Avs did play well and not the one plus an overtime they got rolled, this was a decent roadie. Not the results they wanted, sure, but there are definite signs of life. Shot suppression is working, there is a noticeable forecheck more often than not, there is an increase in traffic in front of the opposing goaltender and shots are being taken from less predictable and more dangerous areas. Like JB said after the game last night, clean up the horrifying mistakes and this is beginning to look like a competitive team.

- The beloved Rampage won for the first time in 7 games last night. Like the Avs they struggle massively at home and do ok on the road and they’re on a 10-game homestand before the annual Rodeo Road Trip. Goals from Chris Bigras, AJ Greer and Rocco Grimaldi were good to see.

Coach Veilleux has been making some odd lineup shifts lately, ostensibly to get a few underachievers performing but the conspiracy theorist in me sees some of these moves as tests to see how guys might react if called up to the Avs. Duncan Siemens mentioned to a STH the other day that they are all aware that the org is looking to call a bunch of players up when they can make some space.

AJ Greer and JT Compher have been split from Rocco Grimaldi in the last few games which is odd because that’s been by far the most effective line over the course of the season. They’ve been put with vet Mike Sislo who has some of the same characteristics of an Iginla or Bourque (no defense, can’t keep up, can’t pass, etc). Greer was playing a lot on the right wing last night which is interesting.

Chris Bigras has been playing with Mat Clark lately, basically the AHL equivalent of Fedor Tyutin, instead of his usual pairing with Anton Lindholm. Duncan and Sergei Boikov were split so he could pair up with Cody Corbett (a really really poor man’s Tyson Barrie) and Gus Young (AHL Weircioch clone). Maybe it’s just EV fumbling around for chemistry but it sure seems like tryouts for a few guys in different roles.

- The Avs have a quick turnaround for the rematch with San Jose tomorrow night. JB was non-committal on whether Barrie will be good to go. I’d assume Picks will start.

- SH, Ryan and I did the MHHpod a little early, which you can find on the front page, and it covers a bunch of these topics and more. So enjoy that with your Eggs Benny this AM if you’re not all hockeyed out.