Pre-game vs Chicago - Dec 17, 2006 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pre-game vs Chicago - Dec 17, 2006

Can the Avs extend their first 3-game winning streak of the season to their first 4-game winning streak of the season? In days past, a game against the Blackhawks would lead to an answer of "Yes!". This season, it's not such a certainty. Under new coach Denis Savard plus (big plus) a healthy Martin Havlat, the Hawks are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games.

The Blackhawks are coming off of a 6-4 win over the Jackets last night so hopefully they got home late and the Avs can take advantage. After their 4-1 win over the Oilers, the Avalanche had Saturday night off and should have some legs under them.

The safe bet in goal tonight for the Avs is Peter Budaj. He has been in net for this latest winning streak and has put up some pretty darn good numbers along the way. He's been showing more and more that he will be a very capable starter in the near future. He does need to get those soft goals under control. The elite #1 goaltenders in the league don't give up one every game. He must be taking lessons from Roberto Luongo (that oughta get the Canuck fans going)

EDIT: Theodore gets the nod tonight. After practice Quenneville said "Peter had a nice stretch here, and we're comfortable no matter who we go back to. We feel like we have a good chance of winning." I suppose anyone would be comfortable knowing Brian Boucher is in net! But here's to hoping Theo comes out smoking hot after working hard in practice.

EDIT: Khabibulin is in net. Geez, I don't know where I got my info from but it was just all wrong today!

In their last 5 games, the Avalanche have outscored their opponents 22-11. If it wasn't for a collapse against the Kings, those numbers would be even more impressive. Unfortunately doubling up on their oppenents and going 4-1 in their last 5 has still left them at the bottom of the Northwest division. In what can only be described as ridiculous, the bottom two teams, Minnesota being the other, are only 2 points behind the top team, that being Edmonton. No other division has close to that level of parity and it's going to lead to lots of nail biting in the final stretch run.

Last game, Svatos being out led to an easy choice on forward scratches...nobody. I haven't heard anything more on his injury but let's hope it's not serious. On defense, Brisebois was out with the flu which, with Leopold out, led to calling up Kurt Sauer. I'd like to think we have better defensive prospects in the minors than Sauer. I never noticed him out there except when he took penalties or slowly lumbered towards the puck.

Ken Klee and Brett Clark were #1 and #2 in ice-time last game and it should be interesting to see the ice time that Klee gets tonight. Aside from Arnason, Klee is the biggest surprise so far this season. He leads the team in +/-, is right up there in ice time and is a solid force in the defensive zone. He's willing to toss some bodies around when necessary. Unfortunately, his legs do show his age at times. The younger players in the league can often get a step on him.

Injuries
Leopold and Svatos are both out with groin injuries and no more word on their status. Brisebois could be in tonight if he's feeling well enough.

Handzus is out until late March with knee surgery. Lalime could be returning soon after back surgery. Adrian Aucoin is day-to-day with a groin injury (man, that is really going around the league lately).

Hot
Sakic owns the "Hot" category with 11pts in his last 5 games. Wolski and Liles each have 10 in the last 10. Brunette has 5 in his last 3, Turgeon has 4 in 4 and Clark has 6 in 5.

Havlat has 8 in 5, Smolinski has 5 in 4 and Ruutu has 3 in 2.

Cold
Laaksonen and Laperriere have 0 in 3.

Holmqvist has 0 in 8 and both goalies are in the Cold category. I'm actually not sure how that works b/c Khabibulin is 1-1-0 with a 3.53 GAA and Boucher is 0-1-1 with a 5.77 GAA in their last 2. So that's 2 losses between the 2 in each of their last 2 games...but Chicago is 6-1-3 in their last 10. Doesn't add up so if anyone can enlighten, please do.

Goaltenders
Jose Theodore - 8-8-1, 3.06 GAA, .903 save pct
Nikolai Khabibulin - 11-5-2, 2.6 GAA, .015 save pct

Standings
Colorado - 16-14-2, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Chicago - 13-13-5, 3rd in Central, 11th in West

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