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Written by Sean Payton | 03 April 2011


BOODS
A very good guest post by Marc Parsons.  
Marc blogs on hendrickshockey.net.  You can also follow him on Twitter: @mercus24


Welcome back Avaholics,

The other night against the Phoenix Coyotes, we witnessed a milestone for our beloved backup goalie Peter Budaj, who reached his 100 career win as a goalie and who is the first Slovakian goalie to reach that milestone. 

The question to be asked though is, "Is this Peter Budaj's last win as an Avalanche?" 

I believe the answer to that question is "YES".   

After a tough 2-1 loss against Calgary, there are 4 games left in the season for the Avs. There is a good chance Brian Elliot gets the majority of the starts. With the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars on home and home games and the final game of the season against the Edmonton Oilers, it proves to be a difficult final 4 games.

Like Calgary, the Dallas Stars are still pushing for a Playoff spot, 3 of the 5 games will be a true test for the young injured Avs team. However with the Avs having a 7 game win streak on the line against the St. Louis Blues and looking to split the season series against the Edmonton oilers, we may see the Avs work for those wins.

But who's to say that Budaj will get the starts for those games?

Budaj does however have a shutout this season against the Dallas Stars, winning 5-0 on November 6th. The team also took 2 points from the Stars on November 20th with a 4-3 Shootout win. 

So maybe with the upcoming possible season sweeps of the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues along with trying to tie the series with the Oilers, it could be 5 of the best games we have seen played by the Avs over the last 2 months.

With that said. I still believe we have seen the final season of Peter Budaj in an Avs jersey as I can see the management team going after a true number 1 goalie this summer and signing Brian Elliot as a Backup. As much as I like Budaj, it's been to long for him to try to prove himself to be the Avs go-to guy in net.

Also we can't forget that the Avs signed Prospect Calvin Pickard to an Entry Level Contract. I doubt we will see him backing up in Denver next year, I'm certain he will join the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland. And to my knowledge right now he is already with the team in Cleveland practicing. It's gonna be great for his growth and hopefully eventual number 1 goalie job for the Avs. 

I must apologize again to the readers to do read my blog. I haven't been on the ball lately, due to being on 12 hour nightshifts at work. I've missed a lot of the second half of the year when it comes to warning our beloved Avs. And unfortunately I have now choice what I work when it comes to plant shutdowns. I'm actually writing this at work while on downtime.

I do however thank you for reading my blogs. And to Hendricks for giving me the chance to write about the team I love. 

So thanks Budaj for being a team player every night. And Congrats on 100 wins. If the Avs don't re-sign you, may you have a great career wherever you land.

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Written by Sean Payton | 02 April 2011

GAME77
  • The Avs really had no business winning this game.  Outshot 16-1 to in the 3rd, I'm still not sure how they pulled this off.
  • They certainly couldn't have done without Factor.  
  • Its April 1st and the Avs have just matched February's win total.
  • Not only did McClement score his first goal as an Av, with an assist he more points in this game than he had in 18 previous games.
  • Of  course, he also took a horrible penalty in the offensive zone on a faceoff that eventually put Phoenix up 3-2.
  • Congrats to Budaj on 100 wins.  Glad he was able to get it done as an Av.  
  • Koci watch: 7:30.  He had more ice time than McLeod and you know, he didn't look all that bad on defense.
Next game: vs Flames, Sunday, 6PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 01 April 2011

GAME76
  • Nashville outshot the Avs 18-5 in the 2nd.  The Predators ended up with 34 shots on goal, despite only having 4 in the 3rd period.
  • The Porter / McClement / Stoa line has got to be the most hopeless line going in the NHL right now.
  • Stoa really struggles to find loose pucks around the net off rebounds when he is screening the goalie.
  • EJ only had 30 sec more ice time than Liles.  He had been getting a couple minutes more.
  • I thought the game was really badly officiated.  A lot of grabbing and players getting knocked down and a clear missed call when EJ  interfered with a Predator on a hard hit in the 3rd.  
  • The Avs finished with no PP opportunities.  I can't imagine that this is what the NHL wants to see, heading into the playoffs.
Next game: at Coyotes, Friday, 8PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 29 March 2011

GAME75
  • (Insert tasteless "scoring on the Avalanche is easier than scoring your ..." joke here)
  • Really unimpressive game out of EJ.  He lacked energy and confidence.  Consistency is an issue for him, and I'm sure is one of the reasons St Louis was willing to deal him.  (To be fair, Stewie has had the exact same problem.)
  • I knew the Avs were in trouble when they interviewed O'Reilly after the 1st period and he said "We don't have to score anymore goals."  Rycroft had just finished a segment where he said the Ducks were gonna throw 40-50 shots on goal by the time this game was over.  (They ended up with 42.)
  • The exact same group of guys were out there for both of Anaheim PPG that really put the game away.  McClement (who continues to be worthless), Winnik, O'Byrne, Hunwick.
  • Good game from the Stastny, Duchene, Hejduk line.  They combined for 2 goals, 4 assists and were a +6.
  • Neither Holos or Gaunce look like they are NHL defenseman - at least yet.
  • Koci watch: 2:47.  
Next game: vs Predators 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 25 March 2011

GAME73
  • The good news is the Avs are scoring goals again.  The bad news is that the defense is still awful.
  • I really want to know who in the NHL really thinks the game can't live without these hits to the head.  My immediate reaction to Komisarik's hit on Olver was one of disgust, and I didn't really like Wilson's hit in the 2nd period much more.  
  • The argument that "its part of the game" is pretty laughable in my mind.  These hits are clearly illegal in IIHF hockey and the players seem to adjust just fine.  You run into these "boarderline" plays when you're willing to tolerate some hits to the head.  Players are going to push a rule right up to its edge and they are going to even cross it a few times to make sure the officials are going to enforce it.  
  • The only way you're going to get dangerous hits to the head out of the NHL is by taking any grey area out and making ALL hits to the head illegal.
  • I thought the McLeod hit on Phaneuf where he gave him a bit of a late shot was a good one to take to throw Dion off his game.  Although Phaneuf has 2 assists in the game, he was a -1.
  • The Avs deserved to get points out of this one - a bunch of little things seemed to add up.  
    • An lucky goal Toronto in the last 10 sec.  (Wilson, WTF?)
    • Stoa's inability to score, despite being wide open in front of Reimer in the 2nd.
    • McLeod's inability to score, despite being wide open in front of Reimer in the 3rd.
    • Elliott's equipment issue / Yip's awful interference penalty, giving the Leafs just long enough to score the game winner on Budaj.
  • After an awful game against Columbus, EJ had a great game.  He led the team with a +2, and had 3 assists - two of which came as a direct result of him getting his bomb off from the point.
  • Two plays tonight where Holos lost the puck at the offensive blueline during good Avalanche shifts.  I've noticed that before from him.
  • Here is a phrase I never thought I'd say: I don't understand why Hunwick was benched.  
Next game: at Kings, Saturday, 2PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 23 March 2011

GAME72
  • Now that was the exciting Colorado Avalanche team we saw before Fleischmann went down and the team stopped scoring and the bottom fell out.  Awful defense, but enough offensive to cover it up.
  • Duchene took the game over in the 3rd.  He out worked Pahlsson on the his first goal, stopped in front of the net and found the puck on his second and won a big faceoff that led to the game tying Winnik goal.
  • Elliott wasn't great all game, but he was at his best in OT.  Duchene said after the game that Elliott should have been named first star instead of him because of all of the big saves he made in OT.
  • Olver has done a much better job than Kevin Porter at stepping into a top six forward role.  Another example of player mismanagement this season by Sacco.
  • Easily Erik Johnson's worst game as an Av.  He allowed Nash to cut to the front of the net twice, Nash scoring once, had a brutal Hunwick-like turnover and then couldn't prevent the pass on SHG #1, slid way too early on a 2-1 that was created after having his shot blocked on SHG #2 and took a bad delay of game penalty.  
  • BUT EJ did find a way to get a hard wrist shot through on the tying goal.  
  • This was the first win for the Avs at the Pepsi Center since Jan 24.
Next game: vs Maple Leafs, Thursday, 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 21 March 2011

I'm a jersey nerd.  
There are a bunch of game worn jerseys on Ebay right now featuring current Avs players.  I thought these were super cool to look at, just thought I'd share.  I've included links to the auctions, just in case you have hundreds of dollars burning a hole in your pocket...

Ryan O'Byrne, Montreal Canadians Throwback:

3FRONT 
3BACK 

David Van Der Gulik, Calgary Flames:
7FRONT 
59BACK

Brandon Yip, Colorado Avalanche:

YIPFRONT
YIPBACK

While I'm at it, here are a couple other tips:

If you have a blank jersey lying around and you'd like customized, the place to go is Exclusive Pro Sports.  You can send in your blank jersey (or buy one on Ebay - blank older Avs jerseys go for $20 - $30) and they will customize it.  Ship it out to EPS and for around $75 (incl return shipping) you can get that jersey lettered and numbered to exact period team specifications.  It will take a little while (a couple of months) but its worth it.  Highly recommended.  They did a A+ job on these for me (and my Wild-loving wife):

Stastny

Brunette

And if you're serious (ie - willing to spend more than $200), the place to go for an Avalanche game worn / team issued jersey is Mei Gray.  Here is my pride and joy - an 07-08 Andrew Brunette Team Issued jersey.  
BRUNOFRO
BRUNOBAC
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Written by Sean Payton | 20 March 2011

GAME71
  • First win since Feb 22, first win against someone other than the St. Louis Blues since Jan 18th.
  • Not that its all that hard to do, but Brian Elliott has put together the most solid stretch in net as any Avs goaltender all season.  Huge saves against Foster early in the game, and kept the team in the game while the Oil took the game over in the 3rd.  Then outplayed Khabby in the shootout.  I just hope the Avs don't fool themselves into thinking he can be the starter next year.  
  • Sacco keeps skating Duchene with lesser talent, but he keeps dominating.  The only other player that was anywhere near his level in this game was Jordan Eberle.
  • Big shootout winner for Stoa.  He is a RFA at the end of this season - it will be very interesting to see what they do with him at the end of the year.
  • Same with another goalscorer/ RFA - Kevin Porter
  • A pretty ho-hum game out of EJ.  O'Byrne and Liles both ended up with more ice time.
  • Koci watch: 2:49.
Next game: vs Blue Jackets, Tuesday, 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 18 March 2011

GAME70
  • The game was over after Bourque scored late in the 1st to put the Flames up 3-1.  The Avs never recovered from that blow.
  • What a dive by Kiprusoff to draw the goalie interference call on O'Reilly after his big shorthanded save on Jones early in the 1st, putting the Flames on a 5-3.
  • Its pretty clear to me that Elliott has been outplaying Budaj by a fairly wide margin lately.
  • It was also pretty clear to me that Erik Johnson is a very important piece of this team. The PP was far less effective without him.  Glad to hear the x-rays were negative.
  • For those think Liles could be the next Avs player to wear the "C", notice that EJ was wearing an "A" and Liles was not.
  • An absolutely awful play by Wilson to allow the puck to go through his legs on Calgary's 4th goal.
  • Glad to Duchene continue to skate well and get his game going heading into the offseason.  Not glad to still see Winnik and Olver still playing with him. 
  • Some credit where credit is due (especially since I trashed him last post).  Nice goal by Olver to get his first NHL tally.
Next game: vs Oilers, Saturday 8PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 17 March 2011

GAME69
  • Its nice to be able to say, "nice to see the boys compete hard" but the bottom line is this was another loss.
  • As this season slowly dies, expect to see better efforts from the Avs on the road vs at home.  The reason?  Games on the road will have an NHL atmosphere.  At home?  Not so much.
  • Did we just see Footer play his last NHL game?  
  • Biggest moments in this one was the failure of Olver to bury his golden chances setup by Duchene - the first one coming when the score was 2-0 in the 1st and the 2nd one coming when the score was 2-1 early in the 3rd.
  • That's ultimately a big Sacco coaching fail in this one:  Early in the game, Duchene was far and away the best player on the ice.  His linemates?  A career NHL 3rd liner Winnik, who has 3 goals since January and a career AHLer, Olver, who has never scored an NHL goal.  
  • Meanwhile, Stastny, who missed last game with an injury, has the team's top goal scorer for the season in Jones and the team's hottest player, O'Reilly who was 3 goals in his last 5 games. 
  • You'd think that after watching Duchene early, Sacco might mix up those lines a little bit and put a finisher with Matty.  He did not.  Sure the Duchene scored, but it was as lucky of a bounce in off a skate as they come. 
  • You have to think that if it was Jones setup from Duchene instead of Olver, Jones finds a way to put the puck in the net.
  • Another solid game from Elliott.  I'd be looking for a real estate agent if I were Peter Budaj.
  • Another solid game from Johnson.  Certainly encouraging.
  • Jay McClement seems incredibly out of place on this team right now.  I wouldn't be shocked if he gets moved at the Draft, or sometime during the off-season.
Next game: at Flames, 7PM mountain no comments