Avs vs. Oilers, My Quick Recap

I got to be home for a live one tonight, so I took advantage. This was written as the game went on. Enjoy.

1st Period
Liles gets his 100th point. Tying things up quickly is just what the Avs needed. Even though he missed cutting off the pass on the first Oilers goal, it was more Brisebois getting schooled on the breakaway that let it in. Liles has the response.

Arnason GOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!!! The juicy rebound gets picked up. I bet the Flames would have handled that one (HA!)

Haven’t seen Roloson complain yet in 8 minutes of hockey. Something must be wrong with him.

Why the hell are the Avs allowing Ryan Smyth to break in alone? From the end camera angle, you can see the mistake the defense makes, trying to poke check the pass to Smyth, rather than retreating to cover him. A cautious play would have most likely saved a goal. Again, like the Flames game (and the first goal of this game), it wasn’t the goaltender that was the problem, it was the defense.

Stastny has the beautiful tip in. Great goal from one of the Future-Looks-Bright crew.

Arnason again with the GOOOOAAAALLL!!!!!! For all the slacking Arnason did with the Blackhawks and Senators, he seams to be making up for it now.

2nd Period
Avalanche GOAL!!!! Hejduk with the power play blast, and you have to think that Roloson is getting nervous. Five goals on eleven shots, with no real excuses for him. Where is Ty Conklin when you need him? (Ohh, noo)

GOAAAALLLL!!!!! The clean faceoff win for Sakic was the decider, and Svatos just chips it in. Ty Markkanen takes the net for Roloson, which is what you expect. Yeah, I know it’s Jussi, not Ty, but it’s just fun to type.

Hey look at that. Forechecking. What a good idea, Avs. Should have tried that in Calgary.

3rd Period
My O and A keys are getting tired tonight, but here it is: GOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!! Svatos with the steal and the breakaway. That’s two for him tonight, and two for Arnason. Arnason. Huh. Did the Senators just treat this guy like crap? He’s been playing pretty well for the Avs from the get go. I’ll have to ask Sherry.

Stoll gets the goal on the doorstep. If Ken Klee would have gotten a stick on the thing, rather than whiffing on it, that goal wouldn’t have happened. But still, a good goal by Stoll for being heads up and paying attention.

Smyth takes out Richardson on a DIRTY PLAY. Don’t give me that crap, he should be in the box for interference at the very least. Smyth could have avoided, skated right into Richardson for no good reason, and good the hit up on the head. Was that the Smyth payback for the Liles knee? Total headhunter. But it was from a Canadian team, so I’m sure he will be praised as a hero. Hell of a way to end the game. Rivalries aren’t build on a schedule, they are build on this. I now have my bile up over the Oilers.

Forechecking, backchecking, good passing, pressure, even being aggressive on the penalty kill. The Avs took a few lessons from the Flames from Tuesday. Even if they can’t sustain the pressure and intensity of tonight, sustaining the desire would go a long way in making this a realistic season, not just the season most people predicted. This was the complete game, which wasn’t the case at the beginning of the season. Is this a glimmer of hope? I’m going to wait and see. At least the boys are pissing some people off. Canucks on Saturday, in Vancouver. Will the Avs own them again? Will Luongo be the starter? WWMCD?

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Avs Vs Canada Continues

The Avalanche take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight, in the second of a 3 game Canadian road swing. the Oilers sit 1st in the division, while the Avs are tied for last with Calgary. But, leads and positions are fleeting in this division, with only a point or two separating slots. Look at the Central division, and you see a lot more space between first and last. But hey, it’s been that way for years.

I don’t really consider this a must win, but I bet the Avs do. The see-saw season (up a few, down a few) can even out with a win, but if they have to wait until they get to Vancouver, so be it. Ales Hemsky is out for the Oilers, which is the only bit of good news there is for the Avs. Don’t forget that last time the Oilers played the Avs, John-Micheal Liles got a knee out on Ryan Smith (since it was listed as a charlie horse, can we agree it wasn’t knee on knee?), and while payback has become a non-existent thing (thanks for something, Bertuzzi), the Oilers will be gunning for the Avs hard tonight. Expect a fast game.

They question is, and always seems to be, who do you use in goal? I say Budaj tonight, so you have an excuse if he loses, then Theodore Saturday, but you could reverse that and say the same thing.

I will be at home watching it, as the Ballbuster (Nutcracker) is dark tonight. If it goes too poorly, I have a bit of housecleaning I need to get done.

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Calgary Wins, Avs Beat Selves


Actually, I do have a few things to say about tonights game:

Avs lose 5-2, but in a game with five goals against, Theodore didn’t play his usual “five goal against” game. Thirty-two saves weren’t near enough to win the game tonight, but Jose wasn’t the story.

The Story was the Flames power play, which hasn’t been all that good lately. That first tip in goal by Iginla from Phaneuf was just perfect, and the Avs going down five on three was a killer. With only six penalties, the Avs didn’t exactly march to the penalty box, but with 3 goals against down a man, and nearly a fourth (Rycroft was barely out of the box for Hamrlik’s goal), it’s impossible to discount the Flames (usually poor) power play.

The Flames put the pressure on the Avs the full game. They were the definition of hard work, and never stopped moving. The entire game, and especially on the penalty kill, they were aggressive, forced the play, and made the Avs make a lot of fast decisions with the puck. The shots on goal were so lopsided in this game due to the speed of the Flames. They played an incredible game. Hats off.

For the Avs, the silver lining is the young players. Stastny and Wolski are the future of this team, at least until we trade them away.

I still have the Canucks-Avs game from the other day on tape, so like it’s like comfort food.

(Not my best post, but it’s one of those tired nights. Just not feeling it tonight. More soon)

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Denver and the Ice

In my years of living in Colorado, downtown Denver has changed a lot. It started really with the addition of Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies (that’s baseball, hockey fans, not the old NHL team of losers coached by Don Cherry) play. There were a lot of other changes before that, but the “renaissance” that downtown has had was marked by the arrival of the stadium. Frankly, I liked downtown Denver a lot more before the changes, when the corners were dark, and the paint was chipped, when the viaduct was still around, and the 2 am closing time crush of humanity of today was a mear trickle of people, most of whom you recognized. You had two competing art supply stores, and where P.F. Chang’s is, there was a horribly wonderful pool hall, whose name I forget, probably due to the fact that you had to be drunk to enjoy yourself. When the dance club on 14th and Market served Mickey’s (the malt liquor) ON TAP, and St. Mark’s Coffee was where the comic book artists would meet up for jam sessions. There were burned out buildings of character on every block, in need of repair, but also having their place amongst the restaurants and shops, most of which were independent and small, just like you want them.

There also used to be an outdoor skating rink downtown. You heard right, directly on the 16th St. mall. When it was cold enough, which was most of the winter, it was up and running, and shaded by the tall buildings all around it. I never did get to skate there. It was gone before I moved to Denver proper (I grew up in a place called Longmont, CO, about 30 miles north of Denver). This year, that’s probably a good thing.

As I write this, it’s 69 degrees outside. In late November. In Colorado. If you live here, or you know much about Colorado, that isn’t right. It should be cold, and it have snowed more than once or twice by now. If the skating rink were still around, my quality of life would be lowered right now, by virtue of it not being open. I would be angry, stomping my feet, yelling, and telling anyone I knew what I thought of that (hey, look at that, I am anyways).

Last week, I worked on a convention called “Greenbuild,” which is about building environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings, houses, and infrastructure. There was certainly an undertone of how to make money (which I believe holds back the cause more than anything), but the vast majority of it was about how to save the world we are destroying. The keynote speaker for the first day, William McDonough, was incredible. He talked for an hour about how to make the world a better place through better design and architecture. He talked about some of what it would take, from the simple to the drastic, to change the way things are going. He brought up points we should know about, but rarely do (like the PH balance of the oceans changing, which will kill off the shellfish population VERY soon if nothing is done. That’s the bottom of the food chain eliminated). Frankly, it was bleak, but at the same time uplifting, because steps can be taken. But what about hockey?

Last year, I attended a pond hockey tournament in Lake Placid, NY. Of course, it was to be held on Mirror Lake, which is what the downtown of Lake Placid surrounds. And the first day was. But the lake wasn’t frozen enough, and the puck would get lost under a puddle of water. A slapshot had the comical effect of splashing your opponent in a wave of freezing water, and the conditions for skating were virtually non-existent. Day two and the championship was moved to the Olympic Oval (outdoor speedskating).

Then, Kukla’s Korner (of course) pointed to an article about how global warming is killing the outdoor skating rinks of Canada. Of course, this is just small potatoes compared to the rest of the problems we are going to face, but it’s still part of it. If you want to see, check out the Yahoo mailing group about backyard rinks. I don’t have a rink, and I love to read it, as they enthusiasts get their rinks ready, and find the best bottom layers to keep the water in. It’s a great read, and the author and sports writer Jack Falla is a member. But let’s see how many get open this year.

So what is all this? This isn’t hockey, is it? This isn’t really what this blog is about, is it? You freaking bet it is, and here’s why. Players like Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky came from the backyards and ponds of the neighborhoods they grew up in. They found passion on the ice that was under the stars, not with coaches and roofs, and machines that make the ice. They shoveled the ice themselves, and then froze their asses off for the privilege. There are too many kids (and adults) who are going to miss out on the backyard rink, where there are no drills, or scores, or sometimes, even pucks and sticks, just pure skating fun. It’s going away, but it doesn’t have to. If you have never looked at the environmental problem we face today, let this be the statement that makes you want to care:

Global warming is killing hockey.

Now go do something about it.

Delivered from the Face of Evil

You know, this shootout thing might not be so bad after all.

Last night was a test of character for me. My long hours of moving in The Nutcracker (which you will hear about as I get increasingly sick of it) finished up just in time for me to see Jose Theodore take a tripping penalty and two goals score in under two minutes. Three if you count the waived off goal. I bet Earl Sleek was pissed at that one. But after grueling hours and too much Tchaikovsky, exhaustion had settled in, and I didn’t want to watch anymore. Talk about new and creative ways to lose, how about, as the goalie, you take the penalty that serves as the rallying point for the other team? And your teams first penalty of the game at that. Good times had by all (I am no stranger to sarcasm).

But sticking with it, I was rewarded. In his first shootout of the year, Theodore closed the door, while Super Joe Sakic had the game winner on a huge backhand he roofed. How do you roof it on a backhand like that? Freaking amazing. So, even with the classic Avs maneuver of giving up a lead, they managed to hold on to the tie, and take another point with the shootout (and as Sleek would say, a Shoutout, which is a shootout shutout) against one of the most dangerous teams in the league. The Ducks are nothing to sneeze at. And while thins should be a bit of a rallying point for the Avs, this should also serve as a reminder, of what the sweater used to mean, and what it can mean again.

Now, go eat some turkey, and wonder why we don’t get to see the Canucks vs. Predators game, while having football shoved down our throats.

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Budaj Rolls, Wild Folds

Peter Budaj got his second start in a row for the Avs last night against the Wild (Do you think it was planned that way?). From the parts I saw (opera), Budaj looked solid in net, staying pretty square to the shooter. The (Super) Joe Sakic goal in the first was a never-give-up, wait-for-the-rebound goal. I think it was the first time I have ever used ‘doorstep’ to describe a goal. Really. The Koivu’s deflection goal was absolutely perfect. How do you take a low ice shot and deflect it a few inches shy of 4 feet high to roof it? How? I really want to know, so I can stop skating around like a fool when I play, and just stand there deflecting them in.

The shootout was exciting, and Super Joe finished the game off for the Avs in fine fashion. The only real downsides to the game are that the Wild came out with a point, and that one regulation goal is not enough to do the job, much less against the (admittedly fine prospect) backup goalie. What does it say that he played against the Avs? That Manny Fernandez is stumbling, or that the Avs, with two decent scoring lines, just aren’t all that scary? One goal, that isn’t enough. It’s like Calgary last year, without the goaltending (Kipper). Will there be moves made, or are the Avs too close to the cap, and too afraid of getting worse.

Next game, Avs at Dallas on OLN. Check your times, see who is in goal. I totally blew who was going to be in goal last night. I’m not even guessing (Theodore). W.W.P.L.D?

Note: As much as I hate that I haven’t been posting as much lately, and that the days I post 2 or more posts are more fun for one and all, tonight starts loadout of the opera, followed minutes later my the ballet loadin (literally, minutes). The next couple of days are going to be hell on wheels for me, with little sleep, and some seriously hard work. Don’t expect anything much around here. But feel free to look around the archives. And for Avs updates, you can look to Avsfan and In The Cheap Seats. But come on back. Stagehands can spin a good yarn, and I’d hate to lose you. Maybe I can put a phone picture up from loadout. That’s my world.

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All Hail Peter Budaj, Winner of Hockey Games, Stopper of Pucks

Last night, the opera continued, so I didn’t get to see the Avalanche shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets. But not too much of a surprise, look at who was in net. Peter Budaj is proving me wrong, so far being the winning goalie of the Avs. Not that I thought Theodore would be, but Budaj just has never really sat well with me (better than Philippe Sauve though). This was the goaltending schedule I would use, Budaj against the Blue Jackets, and Theodore against the Wild. But I would also be looking at Theodore with the critical eye, and stop looking at his paycheck. This is the biggest story of the Avs right now, bigger than who has left the team for greener (money) pastures.

Tonight, the Avs play the Wild. What more can be said? The Avs are in last place in the division, and startlingly high in both Goals For and Goals Against. It’s time to stop playing like any other team. Now the focus has to be on scoring more pucks then Theodore lets in, not just playing the other team. Tonight is a good time to see what the Avs want to be.

Check out Army of the Ohio for the postgame rant from last night.

Pop over to Wild Puck Banter for the Minnesota side of things.

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All the Ladies in the House

If you don’t follow the minor leagues, you are missing out on a lot of fun. Cheap games, crazy fans, and of course, insane promotions. This is from Our Sports Central, my source for minor league news. If you live in California, and love hockey, you need to go to this game:

As part of the “Desperate Housewives” promotion, the first 1,000 ladies in
attendance will receive an authentic Ice Dogs thong. These limited edition one
size fits all thongs are sure to be a hit, so all ladies make sure to arrive
early because they will be go fast!

What the hell is a one size fits all thong? Have you ever heard of one size fits all underwear? These people are crazy, They are crazy and want to see you ladies in a thong. They are insane. Don’t upset them. And if someone goes, and the damn thing doesn’t fit, because one size doesn’t do it, send it to me. I don’t look hot in a thong, but I should have one of these things. What more does a hockey fan need in life? (other than a team that can WIN A GAME EVERY SO OFTEN, ESPECIALLY BY NOT GIVING UP A LEAD!!!! but I’m not bitter)

Avs Finding New and Creative Ways to Lose

Tonight, the Avs showed the world what they are made of.

I decided that, before what is going to be a grueling work week, and what has already been a hard gig this week, I decided to go to the game. I am not going to call that a mistake, because a game is a hockey game. There is a score one way or the other, and you take your chances, on the game, on the score, and on your team. The Avs are “my team,” and I am a fan. That is an admission, and a statement. I don’t call the shots for them, but I am still a fan. Whatever punishment that means, I have to endure somewhat.

Tonight was a testament to that. From being ahead a few times, to what can only be called a complete meltdown, I had to suffer through it. At the game itself. I paid for the privilege of witnessing a too many men on the ice that was more obvious than one of the N’Sync coming out of the closet, and then an eventual 5 on 3 that lost the game. There were other parts to the game. The McLean goal that surprised Nabolov, the injury to Cheechoo, the shorty from Brown. But nothing defined the game more than those 17 seconds.

The Avs continue to lose games by one goal. They are losing games they lead. They are losing games by simple mistakes you don’t see in rec league games. They are losing games, and that has to change soon.

This is a team who don’t have an identity. This is a team who don’t know who they are. This is a team who need to make a few changes.

First, Coach Q must go. We had better success under the Granato regime. He has “lost the room.” He isn’t the direction we need. He isn’t the Avs.

Second, make a few trades. Not just the kind that gets us a little cap space.

Third, don’t be held by Theodore’s salary. He needs to earn his pay, and if he can’t, bench him. We may be playing the goalie dance again this year.

Fourth, decide what you want from this season. Is this going to be a season of playing hockey games, or is this going to be a season of the big pause. Are the Avs going to make a run for it, or are they going to wait for cap relief for next year.

What do the Avs want to be? It can’t be this.

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View from the cheap seats

View from the cheap seats
Originally uploaded by Tapeleg.

but it’s frickin hockey!!!

Sent from my Treo