Avs Lose 9-1, But At Least It Was Funny (sort of)

There are times when the words just roll off the fingers, straight to the keyboard and on to the blog.  But times like this are when I fire up the old blogging software, blow some dust off the internet, and look straight into the blank wall, wondering what to say, and how to start.

Allow me to present a few tweets from the night.

[blackbirdpie id="37378724886224896"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/tapeleg/status/37360275178913792"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/tapeleg/status/37355525557460992"]

and my personal favorite:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/tapeleg/status/37377617594294272"]

Because that was just awful.  It sounds like the interviews after were just as bad, but at least I didn’t have to be subjected to them. Thank you, GameCenter Live:

The Avs lost their 8th straight game, by a score of 9-1 against the Calgary Flames. For a team that seemingly scored at will, it doesn’t get much lower than that.  But hey, misery loves company, and since I sat through that travesty of a game, a few notes.

- If I were going to name a player of the game for the Avalanche, I’d have to say Peter Budaj. No, really. You can stop laughing now.  Of all the players out there, he looked like he cared the most.  Maybe Matt Duchene (who may be injured).  But while Budaj was flat out beat on his second goal (high glove side, saw it all the way), he tried. And he acted like he cared.  When you get beat 9-1, and are pulled twice, the best you can say is that you tried.

- Craig Anderson, on the other hand, did not try.  He was awful in his first replacement stint.  And while he will get a pass from the faithful for being away from the team for a few days to tend to a personal matter, there was something more sinister going on than being out of sync.  It was a lack of caring.  It’s been a long time since I have seen any goalie resigned to getting scored on.  It was hard to watch, and it’s hard to understand.

- Joe Sacco looks like he’s run out of answers.  It’s the expression on his face, even though I can’t say it looks much different than usual.  Perhaps it’s his demeanor, but everything about him seems to reflect what is happening on the ice.  And while scratching Chris Stewart (who doesn’t even look like the same person as the one before the injury) and benching Liles for the first period of the previous game could have sent a message, there is little accountability that he commands.  When the team loses (again) without the benched or scratched player, it’s hard to say that the move sent a message other than “We need you.”

- The #BlameHunwick campaign keeps building steam, and for good reason.  His decision making process seems to have fizzled, and while fans were previously behind him, they now seem poised to shove him over a cliff.  In the loss to the Flames, he had too many errors to count, a few of which ended up in the back of the Avalanche net.

- David Koci: How many times did he ice the puck? The last of his leading to a goal (7th? 8th? There were so many, I forget).  I assume we will hear about a few call-ups, and he can go back to tussling Marc Moser’s hair in the press box.

- Philippe Dupuis laid a nasty, dirty knee on knee hit to Olli Jokinen in the last seconds of the first period.  (Puck Daddy has the video) Watching the replay, you can see Dupuis make a move as though he is going to (hip?) check Jokinen, but can’t line him up. Instead, he keeps his leg extended, though he could have gotten it out of the way.  It’s an awful play, and one that I can’t defend.  No one wants to miss their check (and Dupuis missed it by a country mile), but there is no excuse for what happened here. Collisions happen in a fast game, and the game is only getting faster. In those split seconds of missing a check, the only choice should be to let the other player go. It has to be automatic.  I don’t believe Dupuis intended to injure Jokinen, but that isn’t any excuse for what happened.

- Speed. Remember when the Avs were quick?  That speed seems to have gone away, but worse yet, the decision making seems to have slowed down as well.  Players get the puck, sit with it for too long, and give the opposition all the time they need to take the puck, deliver a check, or get set up to defend.  Watch a team that’s fast with the puck (rather than relying on long stretch passes), teams that deliver that short fast pass, and you see them open up space, and create opportunities.  There was a time when the Avalanche could do that.  It feels like a distant memory.

So where is this team at?  On the day that Peter Forsberg officially announces his retirement from the NHL, as we close a chapter in the history book of this franchise, where does that leave the Colorado Avalanche?

More soon…

Avs Beat Detroit, And It Feels Good. Although….

Not to be “that guy” or anything, but the Avs beating the Red Wings may have been able to look a little better in the doing. I mean, I’m not as curmudgeony as this guy, but still (Shane, I kid)

I missed the first two periods of the game thanks to a paying job (hey, if I could blog and podcast for a living, trust me, I would), but I caught the third period on. And I was worried the entire way. Here’s why:

  • The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup by having a purpose to their plays. Tonight, the Avs did not. Things happened for the Avs when they had a reason to what they were doing. Instead of shoving the puck up ice just to get it a little farther up ice, a pass would tend to work out. Often, there would be a player open for a pass, but a basic clearing attempt was made that would wind up on a Red Wing stick. Lack of purpose in Avalanche gave the Wings more chances than hard work. Desperation has it’s place, but not like this.
  • Look, the Wings punched a few Avs in the face and got away with it. But Lappy wasn’t just selling the punch he received, he was rolling back prices like a US auto maker (hey, the Detroit auto show was cancelled. Best part of the city taken away). And hey, a few non calls went the Avs way as well. But a punch in the face 15 seconds after the whistle doesn’t deserve a “hey buddy.” A call maybe?
  • Know what to do when a top two defenseman loses his stick. Don’t make him ask for a stick. Seriously, I heard Adam Foote ask for a stick, and I was watching the game on my laptop.
  • Tyler Arnason. Hit the damn net. Two successive shots go wide of the net on either side. Number one center? I’m fed up with this mouth breather.
  • A Red Wing breaking up the center alone should be unacceptable. Look, they are going to complete their passes. Never assume they won’t.

I have no idea how Peter Budaj looked in the second when three goals against happened in four minutes, but I will assume he was awesome and was let down by the defense, because he was AWESOME in the third, and the shootout. Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years.

The victory in the shootout was a solid victory for the Avs. Detroit and their fans will take a point out of the game as being a condolence, but in the end, it is empty to losing to an Avalanche team that isn’t that far removed from the team that was swept out of the playoffs last season. Sure, they got a point, but it doesn’t mean anything to them. The Wings will make the playoffs, we all know that. “Giving up” one point is meaningless to the Avs and Avs fans. Taking two points from the game, knocking on the playoff door, and doing it without a center worth mentioning is more important than anything the Wings get. The Wings will not need one point to make the playoffs, they will get plenty from the rest of their division. This is a victory that Avs fans should be proud of.

Nuff said. I have to go to Tempe, AZ. Wish me luck.

Feed Reader Reader: Avs Headline Snapshot

This is something I have thought about doing for a few years, but haven’t done, mostly because I’m lazy, or dumb, or both. Here are little snapshots of what my feed reader is showing.

And if you can’t tell what the hell I’m talking about and you are reading this in an rss reader, then you should go to the original post. Your reader may not be showing you the images of the headlines.

Here we go:

Screenshot 01-30

Get back to me when you have a definition.
Screenshot 01-31
Look, there he is. He’s in the corner, holding his arm. And if you had looked at the previous headline, you may have found him. You know, getting an x-ray.

Screenshot 01-32

Jeez, who isn’t?
Screenshot 01-33
How about an alternative headline? “Avs Give Coyotes Point.”

Screenshot 01-34

Ummm….. This is a headline? That Crosby can score? How about a real headline? “Crosby punches balls, grows some.”
Screenshot 01-35

That worked out, didn’t it? Avs score 5 goals, to get the win when Raycroft is in net and lets in four, but score none against the Panthers when Budaj lets in three. Must be Budaj. Right. Love that math.

Folks, this is the easiest thing ever. And fun.  I’ll do it again soon.

I Don’t Miss Theo

The Washington Capitals started their season on the road in Atlanta last night, with Jose Theodore getting the start. And I have to say, Theo is proving right off the bat why I don’t miss him. This picture should tell you everything you need to know. That looks familiar. Or how about this stat: 4 goals on 17 shots. Yep, the Theodore era continues somewhere else.

Now, you may be saying that Peter Budaj didn’t do that much better, letting in five on 20 shots, and you may have a point.

Screenshot 01-28
But I saw a lot of good from Budaj the other day, and several goals that were not his fault. There were defensive gaffs, along with the holes down low that go along with “fire wagon hockey,” which is what the Avs are subscribing to (until they get lit up one too many times and go into a defensive shell again).

I don’t miss Jose Theodore one bit. One playoff series is not enough to win me back from a season and a half of high priced mediocrity, which is what the Caps fans may be experiencing right off the bat.

I’m with Jibblescribbits on this one.
200810111040

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: 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?