At Work All Day, Rant To Come Soon

I’m in at work all day today, 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM, and while I’m hopping mad, I just don’t have the time right now. I will post something about the debacle later. For now, Here is a pretty picture, that sums up how I feel.

Dscn9333-1

Yeah, that about covers it. God, I love that picture.

Avs – Wings Game 3: Arrrrgh!!!

With an 8:00 AM call, and two shows tomorrow, I have to go to bed right now. That doesn’t leave me much time to talk about the game, but let it be known that I am not happy. At all.

But the Avs are now down 3 games to none, and there isn’t anything they are willing to do to stage a comeback. Just the look on Andrew Brunette’s face during the interview at the second intermission told all the story you needed: frustration, shell-shock, confusion. It’s team wide.

More tomorrow, when I get a chance.

Ryan Smyth Out

The Detroit News is reporting that Ryan Smyth is out for game 3:

Down 2-0 in the best-of-seven to the Wings in the Western Conference semifinals, the Avalanche took another hit Tuesday when forward Ryan Smyth (foot) was scratched for tonight’s Game 3.

Smyth apparently suffered the injury while blocking a shot in Game 2.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Smyth’s return to the lineup is day to day.

This is no good. Time to look at that roster sheet again. The article mentions Hensick, but we will have to wait and see.

I think my DVD Recorder just threw up in it’s mouth a little.

Dear Quenneville, You Must Be Kidding

Perhaps there is something deft in Joel Quenneville’s statement to the media that Jose Theodore is going to get the start for game 3 of the Avalanche – Red Wings series. Maybe he is telling a little fib, to get the Wings over-confident, and then pull a switcharoo, putting Budaj in net, and watch the Wings spin their wheels.

Or Coach Q is out of his freaking mind. I’m thinking it’s the latter. For the life of me, I can not figure out what Budaj said that has kept him on the bench this much. Seriously, did he sleep with someone’s wife? He’s more in the doghouse than anyone this side of Brad Richardson. Theodore played brilliantly in the first round against the Wild, stealing at least one game, if not two. The key word is “played,” as in past tense.

Look at the numbers: Theodore has let in eight goals on 36 shots, in 51:24 of play. Budaj gave up one goal on 40 shots in 67:30. Who do you put in?
From the Rocky Mountain News, Coach Q has faith in Jose:

“Jose’s going to play,” Quenneville said. “He’s been our guy. He’s had a great stretch run for us and was great in the first series and we expect him to be a big factor going forward in this series.”

That’s a lot of faith, for a guy you pull two games in a row. What did he say about Budaj? From the Denver Post:

I thought ‘Boods’ did a real nice job in relief again tonight, but Jose, he’s the one that brought us here.

A real nice job? Can you hear the clinched teeth, and the resentment here? Something is up, or Budaj would be the no-brainer decision. For all the talk the Versus crew was giving Q for being a Jack Adams contender, I think you can safely bet they have shut their collective mouths. And, in “My NHL,” you do not get to finish in the bottom five in power play, and get Coach of the Year.
If the Carolina Hurricanes hadn’t put Cam Ward in net, and stuck with Martin Gerber, would they have won the Stanley Cup? No. Hell no. The lesson should be obvious. You don’t have to always dance with the one you brought.

The question is: Who do you risk the next game on? The guy who you haven’t played, or the guy who has lost his game? Jose better find it quick.

In other areas, the Avalanche know they need to get their collective backsides in order. Such as this little tidbit from the Rocky Mountain News:

Only two Avalanche players – Sakic in both games and Paul Stastny on Saturday – have managed as many as three shots on goal in a game.

If that doesn’t jolt the Avs into some sort of action, I don’t know what will. I am going to cringe when the Versus guys start saying things like “your best players have to be your best players.” If it’s Eddie O calling color, I’m guessing two minutes. Dudes, we can barely ice our best players.

For all the complaining about the bust that has been Peter Forsberg, there are some key elements to remember about him:

He was relatively cheap. One million, while not chump change to you or I, isn’t much against the cap, all things considered. And it certainly isn’t much when that money isn’t going to be doing you any good just sitting there, unused.

Would the Avs have gotten into the playoffs without him? The race was tight until the end of the season, and there were few players who could have shoehorned the Avs in as effectively as Forsberg.

Forsberg sells tickets. When he is in a lineup, fans get excited, and buy more tickets. That’s spending money to make money.

I don’t see Forsberg being a bust, just that he should be around more often than he is. It’s certainly frustrating that he is out so often, and kind of an oxymoron tat you have to limit his time to get long term use out of him, but when he is healthy (not often enough), he is a factor.

Scott Hannan may be back, but we will wait and see. Hannan has some sort of foot injury, and I never thought I would say this at the beginning of the season, but the Avs need him, badly.

OK, looking at the roster, and who to insert in the lineup with Wolski gone, and Forsberg only a possibility, I’m not seeing the usefulness of Cody McLeod at this time. He has an unhealthy relationship with the penalty box, and for all his “toughness,” isn’t being a positive factor on the ice. Who else could they fit in there? Let’s look at the scratches from the game on Saturday:

Screenshot 01-25

Oh, look at that, out of left wingers. How special. Is there any way they can ask Hensick or Richardson to move over to the left side? Anyone want to guess what the Avs will be drafting this year?

The only thing left to say is that the Avs have to come out strong, and stay that way. What else is there? Get the damn puck, and keep the damn puck.

It finally becomes a series tonight.

Go Avs.

Avs Wings Game 2: WTF

There is this guy at work named Chris, a transplant to Atlantastan from San Jose. And believe it or not, he is a Sharks fan. Not one of those blaze johnny-come-lately fan, but a fan of the team, and a fan of the game. It’s fun, because we can look at the scores, talk hockey, and lately, complain. How else is he going to react to the Sharks losing to the Stars after outshooting them. Of course, shots aren’t everything, unless you lose. You can put 100 weak, slow shots on net, and still lose the game.

I was at work for the first two periods of the game, watching the score tick upwards on the right side of my ipod, while the left side sat firmly at zero. After goal three, I called down to MegMegMeg to find out if Theodore was pulled yet. After goal four, I called again. Eventually the answer was yes. I was able to see the third period at dinner, but I kind of wish I hadn’t. It was bad.

Let me sum up what I saw. Ian Laperriere scored the only Avs goal, on a deflection. The Avs then gave up a short handed goal (on which Budaj tried hard to stop). Then the Avs gave up.

I have not. But the Avs knew when they were done.

I am going to watch the game at some point (in at 11:30 AM tomorrow, long day today, so it ain’t happening tonight), because I am a fan, and I want to see the game, or put myself through the pain. It will come, perhaps Monday, my day off.

Till then, Go Avs!!!

Avs Wings Game 2: Anticipation

An unusually early day at work today is going to limit me to this very brief preview. Theodore may get the start, and hopefully be feeling better. Anyone who doesn’t think the Wings are going to learn from the last two periods of game one is fooling themselves. Both teams are going to want to capitalize on the last game, the Avs wanting to continue their push, the Red Wings wanting to build off the win.

Wolski is out, Forsberg is questionable, and that is are there is. Early game today, so start rubbing the coffee grounds in your eyes.

Avs-Wings: Goalies in Limbo

It was a sign of things to come when Dominik Hasek, the Dominator, was pulled from play in the Nashville series, and Chris Osgood was put in his place. The sign, though, was not for the Wings, but for the Avs. It was a sign of things to come.

Last night, Jose Theodore, who had been ill earlier in the day, ill enough not to participate in the morning skate, wast the starting goaltender for the game, and what a mistake that turned out to be. Two of the four goals Theodore he would like to have back (but show me a goalie who doesn’t want them all back), and the last one should have never gone in. All of a sudden, Theo wasn’t feeling very good. That was right about the time the Wings scored the eventual game winner.

Enter the Budaj. Peter Budaj came in to the game, and lit a fire under the Avs collective asses. A goalie change can do that sort of thing, but you have to wonder, should that change been made possible in the first lace? Should Theo have started if he was feeling ill, and off his game?

As happy as I was to see Tyler Weiman (a JAHL favorite) sitting on the bench, the scenario should never have happened in the first place. What heinous crime did Peter Budaj commit that makes him less desirable to start a game than a sick Theodore?

Of course, you dance with the one you brought, and Jose Theodore sadie hawkinsed the Avs into the second round, but that doesn’t mean he has to be the only one the Avs have to dance with (pushing the metaphor a little?). Was there enough compelling reason to have Theo start the game, or should the risk been evaluated more? Should the leash been shorter when he went into net, knowing that he was sick?

You want a goalie controversy? I think we have one. It still isn’t Budaj’s job to steal, I wouldn’t go that far right now. But you have one goalie who played when he should not have, and gave up four goals on sixteen shots, who came back for a little over a minute of the second period (and most likely should have stayed in the dressing room, or that’s the fastest flu-like symptoms I have ever seen), and you have another who shut the door, but who hasn’t played much lately. A few days ago, the goalie choice was a nice problem to have. Now it doesn’t look that way.

There is only one question now:

Who starts game two?

Avs Wings Game 1: Ready For the Next One

Game one is over, and now that it is 1:04 AM in Atlantastan, I am now caught up with the rest of the world. By now, everyone knows that the Avalanche lost game one to Detroit, in Detroit, 4-3. But even with a loss, I was smiling like a cat afterwards. I’ll get to why in a moment, but first, my notes on the game.

For the first thirty minutes, the Avs didn’t look like they were playing hockey, they were surviving. And they were barely surviving at that. The Red Wings were keeping the pressure on the Avs, getting them to chase the puck, and the play, around. The Wings played their game to perfection, making short passes, finding open ice, and making the forwards chase the puck around, and ultimately take them off their game.

That’s certainly what happened to Cody McLeod, which allowed Zetterburg to skate right around him, get in position, and score the tying goal, less than a minute after Paul Stastny put the Avs up one nothing. To call it a broken play would be an insult to broken plays. McLeod simply forgot that he had a guy to cover. That goal would never have happened, had Cody skated with his man, rather than turn away from the play. It was one of those plays that you saw happening as soon as he stopped skating, and looks so obvious to the television viewer, but from a few feet away, looks completely different.

Goal two by the Wings was a fluke. Simple as that. That may make the Wings, or their fans, feel like destiny is one their side, but I would beg to differ, with the proof coming up in a few minutes.

Goal three. What can I say. It was a great redirect. I can’t take anything away from the Wings on this one. Really, it was a great play. And the march to the penalty box by the Avs made it possible. From this point, the Avs were their own worst enemy.

Goal four. This one is squarely on Jose Theodore. And the proof is in the replay, literally. If you recorded the game, and it was broadcast on Versus, go back to that goal, look at the slow-mo replay, and watch Theo in the upper right of the screen. While the play is shifting to his right against the boards, Theo is standing up, lazily, not set for a play to happen. He remains this way for a while, knocking his glove and blocker around for a but. The puck gets passed to his left across the ice, with plenty of time to get set. Plenty of time if you are set already. Which he was not. This should have been a shot that Theodore stops. Yes, he is moving side to side, which you want a goalie to do. But he is also out of the play, mentally. He isn’t ready for anything to happen, and has taken himself out of the play. He might as well not have been in goal. Not being square to the play is death to any goalie that plays butterfly. Ask J-S Giguere.

Shortly, he wasn’t. Peter Budaj stepped into goal, and put on a clinic. Actually, he put on a full blown hospital. Budaj stopped 20 shots (all 20, that is), and did what any goalie should do, which was keep his team in it. I would even say that he stole a few, but that could be pushing it. Still, he stopped more than Theodore saw, and the look of the Avs from last season was complete: Budaj in net, Theo wearing a baseball cap, and the Avs not playing for an entire period. Add a half period, and you have this one wrapped up.

It takes John-Michael Liles to get the Avs back on the board, and back on their game. Liles ties it up with a goal that has eyes, a goal that took the wind out of the Wings, and that made Chelios, the tireless old man, look like he was exhausted. It was what the announcers in NHL 2004 would call a “laser beam, that found the back of the net.”

At this point, the Avs must have felt they had a chance, and started to skate. Not skate like they had the first period, not skate like they were playing with Forsberg in the lineup, but really skate. They started to skate like they could. And it made all the difference in the world.

If I really had an issue beyond the loss, and beyond the play of the first period, my issue was that it took the second Avs goal to make the Avs play hockey. Before that goal, the Avs were hanging on, and only by a thread. But put the possibility that they are still in this game in their head, and the world suddenly becomes their oyster. After the Liles goal, winning the game, skating with the Red Wings rather than behind them, suddenly became a real possibility. The fact that it took a goal to make that happen is a little disconcerting.

But the proof was all they needed, and the Avs tied it up, with Hejduk putting it in on a pass from Stastny, that would have never happened if not for the play of Ryan Smyth. I thought he was going to dump the puck in, and apparently, the Wings players did too. It was a needle threading pass from Stastny, and the patience that Hejduk showed, settling down the puck, then taking the shot, made me jump out of my seat. It was one of those plays that fans would have vilified if it hadn’t worked out. But it did.

And the next one, the game tying goal, didn’t happen. While there were a few post shots for the Wings, a post going the other way was the difference maker. Sometimes, you see a play develop, and you know there is going to be a goal. And this was one of those, with the play pressing the Wings back. And as soon as I heard the post hit, I started smiling. It wasn’t a goal, but it was something else.

It was the sound of fear.

As soon as that post was hit, as soon as that sound was heard around the nation, there was an understanding. There was a reality that set in. If not for an inch, this game would have been still up in the air. If not for a few dimensions, if not for an angle, anything could have happened. That sound was as loud as the goal horn. It rang out across Avs nation, and through all of Hockeytown, and it had a message.

The war is not over.

More tomorrow.

Postgames around the Avoshphere:

Colorado Avalanche Talk
inthecheapseats.com

Avs vs Wings Game 1: Blackout Restrictions Apply

Thanks to Michigan being in the Eastern time zone, and thanks to a job that starts at 6:30 PM, and a game that starts at 7:30 PM, I am under a self-imposed blackout for the game tonight, to be viewed at 11:30 PM after I get home. No blog, no email, no internet. I will be posting some sort of reaction to the game after I see it. Check back in tomorrow.

Welcome New Avs Fans!!!! A Guide to the Temp Fan

It’s the second round of the playoffs, and there are some newly disappointed fans who need to take the pain away / have a reason to live / keep on watching hockey. A few days back, I put out the invite for hockey fans to come along and root for the Colorado Avalanche for a while. We welcome all comers.

But it occurs to me that I left out part of that invite, the part that gives you compelling reasons to jump on the Avs bandwagon / gravy train / tricycle of love. Welcome to:

The Castoff Fan’s Guide to Temporarily Loving the Avalanche

Players:

There are no more likable players to get behind than the Colorado Avalanche players. It starts from the top down with Joe Sakic, the captain. Sakic’s nickname is Super Joe, which just makes you feel good about him, yourself, and everything around you. Super Joe. He’s Super. What more do you need to know? Well, every time someone says he has lost a step on his game, he turns around and proves them wrong. And he is clutch.

Peter Forsberg is back, and unlike his time in Philadelphia and Nashville, he is helping the team. He is known as Peter the Great. So far, we have a “super” and a “great.” This is getting fun, isn’t it?

Milan Hejduk (Hey-Duke) is up next. He won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2003 with 50 goals. Mind you, that was when goalies were allowed to wear 8 foot by 6 foot blockers, and carry machine guns. That takes a pair. His nickname is The Duke. See, we now have royalty.

There are a few kids on the team, a likable scruffy bunch, such as Paul Stastny (his dad was a kick ass player in the day for the Nordiques), Wojtek Wolski (who’s name is pronounced with V sounds), Ben Guite (who has the worst facial hair, and should be staring in the Beastie Boys Sabotage video), and a few others who are not defensemen.

Speaking of defensemen, Adam Foote was accused of giving the Blue Jackets the finger when he left for what he believed to be the greener pastures of Colorado, but the stories have yet to be substantiated. As for those pastures, they a looking mighty green these days. Foote shut down Marion Gaborik in the first round, earning him the title of Most Useful Defenseman Ever. His nickname is Footer (how imaginative).

Brief notes on the rest of the defense:

Scott Hannan: figuring out how to skate backwards at altitude.
John-Michael Liles: Underrated, and not scoring as much from the blueline this year, but he was asked to work on his defensive game, and he has. Everyone thinks he should be traded, but I can never figure out why.
Kurt Sauer: Flip flops more than John Kerry. Good one game, a goat the next. Looks like Tyler Arnason with a chin and his mouth closed. At least with a helmet on.
Jeff Finger: On my $#!+ list right now, since he lost his brain when he lost his stick a few games back. I like the guy, but wouldn’t ask for directions from him… to the bench, that is (that makes sense in my head).
Jordan Leopold: Missed most of last season, and some of this one. Is making up for it now, which is good timing on his part.
Ruslan Salei: Former Ducks D-man when they lost it all to the Devils in 2003. He was traded from the Panthers to the Avs for Karlis Skrastins. This could be considered the most briliant move by a GM since… Ever!!! That may be taking things a bit far, but the man has made a huge difference to the team. I have no complaints.

Do you like tough guys? The Avs have two of the good ones. First is Ian Laperriere, aka Lappy. Lappy is a French-Canadian with a chip on his shoulder, and the desire to take it out on the opposition. He like to enforce “The Code” of the hockey tough guy, and is loved almost as much as Super Joe. His best moment was handing Dion Phaneuf his own ass in the last game of the 2006-07 season. It was glorious.

Scott Parker is the other tough guy on the team. Known as the Sheriff (who doesn’t like a sheriff on their side), Parker has been known to go a little overboard, but also knows when to be funny. Such as this. Isn’t that nice, giving a lucky fan a souvenir? Parker was an Avs before, and won a Cup with them in 2001. When he returned to the team, it was considered an infusion of heart and soul.

Cody McLeod likes to mix it up too, but that’s all I have about him right now. He has no front teeth.

Goalies? Sure, we have goalies. It was thought that Peter Budaj was going to be the number one goalie this season, after grabbing the job at the end of the last season, and standing on his head to keep the Avs in the playoff hunt right to the end. The only thing that could derail him this season was the resurgence of Jose Theodore. And guess what happened. Theodore is haveing the type of season that is being talked about in hushed tones. He is getting back to his former self, and stole a few games against the Wild. And who doesn’t like to see a guy who hadn’t earned his six million dollars finally step it up at the right time.

Uniforms:

I don’t expect people who are just along for the ride to go out and buy an Avs jersey, but let me just say that you would look good in one. At least, one of the old ones. I don’t recommend the new RBK EDGE ones, if only for the over use of capital letters, although there are other reasons. The colors look good, go with most everything, and the logo is easy on the eyes. It even has a puck on it, so you can point to it when people ask you what you are wearing and scream, “It’s a hockey jersey! See? It has a puck!!” As an added bonus, the old style jerseys are less expensive than the new ones. If you can’t bring yourself to purchase one of these fine articles of clothing, look at the team us usually root for. There are probably a few former Avs kicking around. It seems like everyone has played for them in the short history of the franchise. Speaking of history…

History:

Since you may be new to the team, this is one of the nice aspects of picking the Avs as your temporary favorite team. The Avs have only been around since the 1995-96 season, making it easy to keep most everything you really need to know accessible. Before that, they were the Quebec Nordiqies, who started their existence in the WHA, and were one of the four teams absorbed into the NHL in 1979. After that, they pretty much sucked, and talented forwards were betrayed by defense and goaltenders, at various times, sometimes at the same time. In 1995, the team was moved to Colorado, renamed, and became successful immediately. Thanks to the move, they became an easy trade partner with the Montreal Canadiens, and in the most lopsided trade since my money was traded for the “honor” of seeing Pearl Harbor. That movie sucked. The Canadiens gave up Patrick Roy, a goalie most people hated, but mostly because he didn’t play for their team. Ask now ,and they will deny that, but it’s so true, you can taste it. The Avalanche went on to win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado, and the fan base was established. The Avs then won the Cup in 2001, and set the record for sellout games in a row. See? How easy was that?

Chants, Cheers and Fan Rituals:

There aren’t many. In fact, other than “Red Wings Suck,” I can’t think of any real fan rituals. But that can play to your advantage. If you come up with anything clever, just act like every other fan does it all the time, and you will seem like you are on the inside.

Rivals:

This is one of the great pieces of the puzzle. The timing for your jump to the Avalanche couldn’t be better. The main hated rival is the Detroit Red Wings. Going back to the playoffs in 1996, the Avs and the Wings have had a violent hatred of each other. Some of the names on the teams have changed (and some have not), but the fans know the scoop. With the return of Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg to the Avalanche, the rivalry looks at lot like the good old days. If you were to throw out a name or two from the “good old days” of the rivalry, you have a 50% chance they were there back in the day.

The other big rivalry is with the Vancouver Canucks. The main reason the Avs fans hate the Canucks is because of the sucker punch laid on Steve Moore by Todd Bertuzzi. It’s pretty well documented, so google it or something (if you have never heard of it, you may be new to hockey, and not developed a team to take on as your favorite forever, so may I suggest the Avalanche). The main reason Canucks fans dislike the Avalanche is because the Avs have had success, something the Canucks know only from brushing up against it. In 1994, the hopes and dreams of Canucks fans were crushed by the New York Rangers, and for the next year, the city of Vancouver slipped into a coma. When they awoke, this strange new team was in the league, and then won the Stanley Cup. This pissed of Canucks fans, and not much has changed since. This season, the Canucks did not make it to the playoffs, so they are not a factor. But there may be references to the Canucks from time to time, so now you know.

But the Avs are going to lose, right?:

Well, not so fast there. First off, you are a fan now, albiet for a short moment in time, so of course they are not going to lose. That being said, they may lose, but there are several things to remember about this Avs team.

  • This was not the same Avs team the Wings faced in the regular season. With the Injuries to Sakic, Stastny, and Ryan Smyth, the Avs were severrly depleted up front. With the additions of Foote, Forsberg, and Salei, the team took on a whole new look and feel.
  • The Wings have already shown weekness in the post season, having a harder time with the Nashville Predators than anyone would have predicted.
  • The playoffs have not been as kind to the Wings in recent years as the regular season. Remember, the Presidents Trophy means little when compared to the Cup..
  • That may be all.

But that may be enough. And hey, we’re all fans here, right? Right. Belief counts for something, and if you need some extra, there is plenty to go around.

Now that I am a fan, what do I do?:

Glad you asked. The following list are things you, as a fan of the Avalanche, can be doing, that help you be more like an Avalanche fan.

  1. Drink good beer, not that crappy beer. That is, if you drink beer. If not, drink something tasty and of good quality.
  2. Eat good food.
  3. Be happy about life in general. You are an Avs fan, and the world smiles upon you.
  4. Dismiss anything Red Wings fans say about hockey. This is more fun than it sounds. It is also technically not mean, since it is more honest than listening to mean spirited lies.
  5. Take the high road. I will be.

This is just a small list of things Avs fans do. If you need more, you can consult the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights. These are fine documents.

But that guy over there says I shouldn’t be an Avalanche fan:

Yeah? Screw him. Really. I’m sick of that guy. He keeps coming around, strutting his stuff, and acting the fool. Screw him. Hey! Buddy!!! Get off my lawn!!! There, see? He’s more afraid of you than you are of him.

Fun Facts about the Avalanche:

  • The Avalanche are one of three NHL teams whose name does not end in an “S” The Minnesota Wild are one, and the Avs beat them in round one. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the other, and we don’t talk about them this season. Just look away.
  • The Minnesota Wild scored the last goal on Patrick Roy of his career. This is their claim to fame. The goal scorer was Andrew Brunette, who felt so bad, he joined the Avs to help them win a Stanley Cup. He is considered one of the best bargins in the league.
  • Denver is the Mile High City. It’s true.
  • Avalanche fans have never rioted after a first round victory. That’s a fact.
  • The Avalanche have a mascot. Really. Never seen him? Well, we’ll have to get him out here. I know he’s around here somewhere. Maybe behind this door..I’ll just take a look and OHMYGODNO!!! THE HORROR!!!!
  • The foot on the shoulder of the Avs jersey is not there because of Adam Foote. Unfortunately, the only person who ever knew what it symbolized died in a freak murder accident. Tragic.

I don’t live in Colorado, but it sure sounds neat:

Yeah, it sure is. It sure is.

Well, that’s all you need to know for your temporary devotion to the Avalanche. There are other things you may find out along the way, but that’s all bonus material. Might I just say that you have made the right decision, and I think you are going to be a fine addition to the fan base. While there may be other teams out there, you have surfed through them deftly, and come out on top. Good job, you!!!!