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Written by Sean Payton | 25 January 2011

GAME49
  • No PPG against?!  Someone forgot to tell the Avs this was a home game.
  • Big game from #18.  It was classic Yip - hard working, full of energy and offensively dangerous.  We've seen him get hot before, hopefully he can keep it going.
  • 2 goals in 2 games for Shattenkirk, who now leads the Avs dmen in goals with 7.  Looks like he's getting his offensive confidence back - which is a really good thing.
  • Stewart is supposed to own St. Louis, instead he spend the 3rd next to Koci.
  • Stoa?  2nd star?  Really, Dater?  He looked lost in the 1st period and was pretty average the rest of it.  He even screwed up on his goal (which was incredibly soft and had no business going in) - he put his hands up in celebration instead of pounding it home.
  • Selfish play from Dupuis on the missed empty netter, that led to the Blues making it interesting for the last 2min.  Dupuis just had to move the puck to Winnik for the easy score - hockey players almost always make the play to setup their teammates, I was shocked that he didn't make the pass. 
  • 2 points for Cumiskey, but he still finished a -1.  
  • Koci watch: 1:54.  
Next game: vs Coyotes, Wednesday, 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 23 January 2011

GAME48
  • Avs play for three minutes.
  • Great start to a saturday afternoon game.  Avs are wearing the Home whites and looking good.  Why, oh why can't we bring back the home whites?
  • Avs dominate the opening of the game and get a deflection goal.  Then Gregory Campbell tussles with the Highlander and all of a sudden Boston remembers how to play hockey.  
  • Hunwick is in the game and gives an average effort.  Not a great way to stick it to your former team.
  • The second period starts with Cody McLeod skating on a line with Stastny and Stewart.  Huh?  They take another shift together before breaking up.  This is a concern.
  • With all the line juggling the team doesn't seem to have any chemistry right now.
  • Porter is soft.  Koci could play without a stick and have the same impact.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • Savard gets knocked out and the Avs can't captitalize.  A two on one from Marchand to Recchi with 5:16 to play in the 2nd sealed the win for Boston.
  • Best player for the Avs saturday?  Peter Forsberg.  Said Milan Hejduk: "He's definitely going to help us."
  • We can only hope.
  • (Many thanks to Peterman for the analysis on this one.)
Next game: vs Blues, Monday 7:30PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 21 January 2011

GAME47
  • Yikes.  I know Nashville matches up well with us and plays a system we struggle against, but yikes.
  • Just about every NHL team has more skill than the Preds.  Where Nashville beats you is with work ethic.   They completely dominated Colorado in that category and it showed up on the scoreboard.  (I wonder how much the sudden loss of Fleischmann and the benching of Galiardi had to do with this.)
  • The wheels completely came off on the Preds 3rd goal.  After an already bad shift, the Avs got outworked on the wall as they looked like they were going to be able to clear the puck and then Andy gives up a horrible goal.  
  • Stoa still looks too slow - at least to fit in on as a top 6 forward on this team.  I think you've gotta move him - he's not going to shine under this system.
  • I forgot how tiny Cumiskey was.  
  • We've always got to have one defenseman who has to turnover prone.  Now that Hunwick is sitting, Wilson seemed determined to take over that role.
  • Koci watch: 5:01.  (There was lots of garbage time in this one.)
  • Back by popular demand, Peterman will be giving me a night day off - he'll be recapping the Bruins game.
Next game: vs Bruins, Saturday 1PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 19 January 2011

GAME46
  • The Avs PK was awful at home and Milan Hejduk had a big game against Vancouver.  In other news, the sun will rise in the east and set in the west today.
  • I really thought the Avs top forwards outplayed the Vancouver's top forwards.  Vancouver's grinders were better then our grinders.  
  • Really nice play by Flash on the OT winner to drive to the net (vs trying to pick a corner), setting up Jones with a couple of whacks at the loose puck.
  • Without O'Reilly, Winnik seemed kinda invisible.
  • Kevin Porter will not shoot the puck.  Even Christopher Vanev (who was playing in his NHL first game) knew Porter is gonna force a pass across on every 2 on 1.
  • Was it just me or was Hunwick on the ice for half of the 1st period?
  • Koci watch: 2:41.  (Would anyone else liked to have seen Yip?)
Next game: vs Predators, Thursday 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 15 January 2011

GAME45
  • Certainly nice to get 2 points, but no question we got a lot of bounces in this one.
  • Only Hejduk's goal couldn't be classified under the good bounce category.
  • Meanwhile, Minnesota couldn't buy a break, hitting posts and missing open nets.
  • Andy looked strong.
  • Many more scrums after whistles with #55 and #25 back on the ice.
  • Sounds like Factor is ok, but if he needs to miss a few games, its nice to have a player like Galiardi who can step in a play center.
Next game: vs Canucks, Tuesday 7PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 13 January 2011

GAME44
  • Ouch.
  • To some degree, this was just 'one of those games'. 
  • That being said, I was very disappointed with the lack of intensity, especially out Duchene's and Stastny's lines.  
  • The Avs best offensive forward was Philipe Dupuis.  At 11min and change, Dupuis and Stastny's ice time was nearly identical.
  • When a team is getting frustrated because they aren't scoring, they should be putting everything on net, and driving to the net for dirty goals.  Instead, the Avs try to make an extra pass and seem to want to play a softer, finesse filled game.  (Which never works.)
  • After two fairly rough games against Colorado in December, Keith and Seabrook were a combined plus 8, 3 assists.
  • There is not enough sandpaper in the Avs game right now.
  • This was the kind of game where Lappy would have absolutely fought someone in the first period to try to get the boys going.  We miss McLeod and we miss Hendricks.  
  • We also miss the kind of game that Galiardi and Yip gave us last year.  We could really use the hard to play against style of game they both seemed to bring nearly every night last year out of at least one of them.
Next game: at Wild, Friday, 6PM mountain no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 11 January 2011

GAME43
  • A big win - no doubt.  
  • Its not often you win games where you can't score in the PP and you can't kill a penalty.
  • But I also suppose its not often you lose games where you score 4 goals in the 1st period.
  • Both Duchene goals were the result of Detroit Dmen (Kronwall and Ericcson) going for the big hit and getting burned.
  • Wasn't just perfect that Todd Bertuzzi takes a momentum killing, bad tripping penalty in his own zone with 7min left, allowing the Avs to calm the game down?
  • Nice win for Boods.  He really made some fantastic saves and didn't have much of a chance on any of the Wings goals, except for maybe the 3rd one.
  • Nice to see Porter contributing offensively again.
  • Hunwick saw his ice time cut, but he still played 3 more mins than Holos.
  • #BlameHunwick
  • This was the last time will see the Red Wings this year, unless we meet in the playoffs.  Last year, I would have been scared to death to play this team, but I wouldn't mind seeing them this year - they seem to have trouble with our speedy transition game.  
Next game: at Blackhawks, Wednesday, 6:30PM
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Written by Sean Payton | 10 January 2011

BERTSUXThere is plenty of cool Wings-hatin' gear over at Original5.com.  

Kind of a cool story about the DIY site - everything is made by founder Mark DeFlorio, even though a complications from a blod clot in his brain has left him legally blind.

“Original 5 was my dream and even though I can’t see perfectly, that wasn’t reason enough to findsomeone else to do the work. I print all the shirts, hats, and home and office products myself. My own two hands do it all. That is how I make the best of my four senses."  

Mark indicated to me he'd have more anti-Bertuzzi gear soon.  Can't wait to see, Mark.  no comments

Written by Sean Payton | 09 January 2011

GAME42
  • For the 2nd time since Christmas, awful penalty killing costs the Avalanche a home win.
  • Thank goodness we were able to get a point out of this one - it was a big point in the ultra close Western Conference.  Honestly, we probably didn't deserve it.
  • You gotta think that Andy's got a really good chance to beat rookie and first time starter Kevin Poulin in a shootout.  So I don't understand why Shattenkirk and Hunwick are thrown out during OT, especially when Tavares is out there.  
  • A really pretty goal from Tavares in OT - but it was completely misplayed by Shattenkirk.  Tavares has to get knocked down - neither #8 or #48 are physical enough or willing to make that play.
  • There is absolutely no question that Hunwick is massively struggling right now.  If you are going to continue to play him, I don't understand why he keeps getting put into the same situations - parred with Shattenkirk and often when Duchene's line is on the ice.  
  • Koci watch: an astounding 5min of ice time - including some 3rd period ice time.  I have to admit, he wasn't too bad - he even scored a Koci-styled* goal.
  • *Koci-styled goal = when a player is standing in front of the net and a puck that was going to go in anyways hits said player in the pants and bounces in. 
  • As funny as it sounds, it might be good for the Avs to go on a lengthy roadtrip right now - I think a change of scenery could serve this team well - but its not gonna happen.  After the Red Wings game, the Avs go to Chicago and Minnesota and then are back at home for yet another 5 game homestand.
Next game: vs Red Wings, Monday 7PM mountain
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Written by Sean Payton | 08 January 2011

Amazingly, the 2010-11 Regular Season is already half over.  Despite a mountain of injuries and despite goaltending that can only be described as 'average-at-best', the Colorado Avalanche are right in the thick of the playoff mix in the Western Conference.  Let's take a close look at games 21-41.

MATTY

ABD's 3 Stars:

1. Matt Duchene - After a fairly lackluster first 20 games, Matty was far and away the Avs best player over this 20 game stretch.  Not only did he led the team in both goals (13) and points (23), he had 6 more goals and 7 more points than the next closet player of the team.

2. Kevin Shattenkirk - Ok, he's certainly cooled off recently, but the 2007 1st round pick paid his first dividends over these 20 games.  Over this stretch, he outscored John Michael Liles in all areas - goals (+1), assists (+3) and points (+4) - 'nuff said.

3. Ryan O'Byrne - Who knows what kind of player Michael Bournival will turn out to be, but the Avs have to be happy with the deal with Montreal, at least so far.  O'Byrne has just done his job - a stay at home defenseman who has simply been solid.  He's plus 7 tied for the team lead over these 20 games.

Honorable Mention: Winnik, Wilson

ABD's Goats:
1. Matt Hunwick - The similarities between Matt Hunwick and Games 1-20 goat Kyle Cumiskey are truly remarkable - both are extremely speedy, but extremely small Dmen who have a major tendancy to get physically overwhelmed and frequently panic with the puck in their own zone.  Hell, Hunwick is even wearing Cumiskey's old number - #48.  The afforementioned Ryan O'Byrne outscored Hunwick 3 points to 2, which might not sound all that impressive until you consider that Hunwick got PP time nearly every game.

2. Brandon Yip - Yipper was really off of his game over this 20.  Despite all of the team's injuries, Yip still managed to be a healthy scratch 3 times and was a minus 7.  The good news is game 41 (vs PHX) saw Brandon play his best game in a long time, so hopefully we can get off this list next time around.

Most surprising thing:
The return of Craig Anderson hasn't resulted in more wins.  Over games 1-20, the Avs gathered 25 points - Andy played in 8 games.  Over games 21-41, Andy played in 14 games and the Avs only earned 22 points.  On paper, that tells me that Chris Stewart is a more important player to this year's team than Anderson is. However, if Andy can find his game over the 2nd half of the season and play like we know he can, that statement will look really silly in a couple of months.

Most expected thing:
Duchene steps up when the team needs it.  When Chris Stewart was hurt broke his hand on Kyle Brodizak's face, he was the team's leading goal scorer.  Matt Duchene had yet to find goal scoring touch - only scoring 3 goals over the first 20 games.  Matty put his team on his back and put the puck in the net - scoring 13 goals.  Without his goal production, you'd have to believe this stretch would have been disastrous for the Avalanche.

Team Stats:
Record: 9-8-4
Standings: 2nd in NW division, 7th in Western Conference
Points: 22 (of 42) (-3 pts)
Average points per game: 1.04* (-0.21)
Projected season points total: 94 (-8.5)

*As a baseline – last year San Jose (1st in Western Conference) averaged 1.39 points a game and Colorado (8th in Western Conference) averaged 1.16 points a game – anything above 1.20 is going to get you into the playoffs.

Home record: 5-4-2
Points: 12 (of 22)
Average points per game: 1.09 (-.11)

Road record: 4-4-2
Points: 10 (of 20)
Average points per game: 1.00 (-.30)

Goal differential: -8 (Avs: 64 - Opponents: 70)  (-20)
*includes goals awarded for winning a shootout

Special Teams:
Power Play: 23.1%, 8th in the NHL (Even)
Penalty Kill: 78.4%, 25th in the NHL (+1 spot)

OT Record: 2-4
Shootout Record: 1-0

Individual Stats:
Points Leaders:
1. Matt Duchene - 23
2. Paul Statsny - 16
3. Tomas Fleischmann - 16

Goal Leaders:
1. Matt Duchene - 13
2. Paul Stastny - 7 
3. Tomas Fleischmann - 7

Assists Leaders:
1. Kevin Shattenkirk - 11
2. Matt Duchene - 10
3. Paul Stasnty / Tomas Fleischmann - 9

Plus / Minus:
Plus leader: Ryan O'Byrne / Daniel Winnik (7)
Minus leader: Matt Hunwick / David Jones / Brandon Yip (-7)

Goalies:
Anderson - 14 games, 7-5-2, .908, 3.12
Budaj - 7 games, 2-3-2, .897, 3.54

Final Thought:
After game 20, the Avs were in 1st place in the Northwest Division.  They are now 12 points behind the Canucks - hats off to Vancouver for playing some fantastic hockey, but the Avs certainly would have liked to have kept better pace.  Now, it looks like they'll be in a dog fight with 10 teams for 5 playoff spots over the 2nd half of the season.  Hopefully, the return of Chris Stewart will help give the team the kind of offense bump they'll need to grab ahold of a playoff spot.
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