If there wasn’t concern for Avs fans before, there should be now. At least, if you read the papers. First off, from the Denver Post, Paul Stastny is done for the series:
Stastny will miss the rest of the series and possibly beyond with a knee injury suffered in the first period of Game 3. It is just the latest in the torrent of bad news to hit the Avs since their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Red Wings started last Thursday.
If I’m reading that correctly, you can count him out if the Avs pull of a miracle and advance beyond this round. There are so few mainstay Avs available right now, even Wyatt Smith is getting the look. Ouch.
Further down, the scary part:
The Avs, down 3-0 to the Wings in the series, practiced Wednesday without several regulars, including Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Hejduk.
No matter how you read that, it doesn’t look good. Whether or not it’s injuries, or a damn tired squad, having your big three forwards out of practice is a sure sign that things are bad in Avs land, and perhaps a sign that the team is giving up for the season.
In another Denver Post article, Theodore was the focus, telling us that he is playing for pride, at this point:
“For myself, it’s all about pride,” Theodore said after practice Wednesday at South Suburban Family Sports Center. “You go out there and you just want to make sure you fight and be able to look at yourself in the mirror and really say, ‘I left everything out there.’ I think for a lot of guys, that’s what we did (in Game 3).”
But what the article focuses on is really money, and if Theo will be picked up after his contract expires this season, either by the Avs, or by another team:
Another issue will be whether Theodore’s play, at least in the first two games of the series when he was battling and recovering from the flu, will cause the Avalanche or any team thinking about pursuing him after July 1 to be less aggressive. He has allowed four goals in each of his three starts against the Wings, gotten yanked in the first two, and has a 6.55 goals-against average in the series — after being the difference-maker in the opening-round series victory over Minnesota.
Yes, he was sick, but he played games one and two, and if he was that bad off, he should have been benched, for his own good, and for the good of the team. 6.55 GAA says everything I need to know. Penicillin doesn’t take care of that. So it’s all about pride now. I don’t know if I should feel good about that or not.
Coach Q is still a dedicated Theo follower, with the blind devotion shown by cult members:
Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville, who showed faith in Theodore by coming back with him in Game 3 after Peter Budaj stopped 39-of-40 shots in relief in Detroit, remains committed to Theodore in this series.
“I thought Jose played well,” Quenneville said of Game 3. “The goaltending was fine. I think he looked sharper. He looked good in practice again (Wednesday). I don’t think the goal-tending is an issue.”
Man, are you sure about this? I’m starting to wonder if this is Quenneville talking, or his mustache. Perhaps the evil lip fur has taken over. At some point, you have to look elsewhere. And there is an elsewhere. He’s sitting down the bench from you.
Finally, there is the obligatory “Will Super Joe Retire” article that seems like clockwork this time of year. And while everyone sees a step taken off Joe’s game, there is plenty of reasons to wait and see. Joe is being coy, and perhaps a little ominous:
Sakic refuses to allow himself to think the Red Wings could sweep him out of the league and into retirement. It’s the lone mind-set a captain concerned first and foremost for his team’s preservation can embrace.
“If we win Game 4, then there will be another one for us all,” Sakic said.
I can’t tell you how sad I would be if this were his last series, and can only hope that his eventual retirement isn’t fodder for more Red Wings fans bragging. I don’t think he is going anywhere. Coming back from hernia surgery is difficult, and you can bet he was rushed back on the ice when he was almost healed. I wouldn’t be looking at a contract announcement right away, but maybe by July 1st. I think there is one more season left in him.
Super Joe ain’t gonna go.
Mark Kiszla weighs the pros and cons:
KEEP ON PLAYING
1. With eight points in nine playoff games, Sakic still has got game.
2. Wearing a Team Canada sweater at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is a sweet dream.
3. Young Avs Paul Stastny, T.J. Hensick and David Jones can keep the “jump” in an old veteran’s step.
HANG ‘EM UP
1. If there’s any doubt at age 38, it’s probably time to go.
2. The quietly proud Sakic should not wait until he becomes an Average Joe on the ice.
3. Avs have too many question marks to be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders in 2009.
I particularly enjoy that last one. Anyone watching the games this year has questions for the next. Hell, I have questions for the Avs myself. Such as:
Who is going to be Coach next season?
Who is going to be in goal?
Are they going to resign Adam Foote?
I’ve got plenty of questions. I bet Sakic does too. But I think he can wait, and so can we.