Pre-game vs St. Louis - Dec 29, 2006 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pre-game vs St. Louis - Dec 29, 2006

The Blues roll into town as we all wait with baited breath to see if this game will go on. Denver got hit with their second snowstorm in the past couple weeks, the first one causing their game against Calgary to be postponed indefinitely. If the game goes on, and I think we all hope it will, we should see an angry and fired up Avalanche team after a 5-4 loss to Dallas two nights ago.

Peter Budaj will undoubtedly get the start tonight after Jose Theodore put in a sub-par performance against Dallas. Rife were chat forums with swears, curses, trade proposals and more. If you want more reaction from the players and coach Q, read this article by Frei in the Denver Post. And always remember how honest and up-front Andrew Brunette is as you read his comment. Maybe the reaction from the team and coach will make fans calm down just a smidge. Hopefully. Maybe. Probably not.

The Blues are starting to heat up a bit under new coach Andy Murray. However, "heating up" for the Blues means going 3-3-4 in their last 10. That's .500 hockey baby! The bad thing with low-expectation-having teams is that they don't have a lot to lose. Just ask the US world juniors about their tournament opener against Germany. Let's hope Canada doesn't befall the same fate today. Back on track, look for St. Louis to come out firing as well, as they have in every game we've played against them this year.

If things keep going as they are for Wojtek Wolski, he will soon insert himself back into the Calder trophy race. Not that he's going to win it, but there's got to be a couple others in the race at least! For a few games, he was looking listless and lazy but he seems to have really stepped up his game and gained a great deal of confidence in himself. It takes balls to make a between-the-legs-jump-around-the -D move and he pulled it off in style against Dallas. He came away from that game with 1 goal and 2 assists and now has 5 points in his last 2 games, moving him into 4th place in rookie scoring, one point behind Paul Stastny.

Joe Sakic continues on an unbelievable pace this year. Well, unbelievable for most other 35+ year old players. He has 14pts in hist last 9 games and is on pace for 36 goals and 90pts. And guess what...he usually gets better after the Christmas break. I don't think a 100 point season is out of the question at this point. Hey, maybe it'll force TSN to update their scouting report to remove the "isn't as prolific as he used to be" line.

Patrice Brisebois will be out for this game and the Avs called up Kyle Cumiskey to take his spot on the roster. Well, some feel that Sauer takes Brisebois' place and Cumiskey takes Sauers but I'd like to see Cumiskey get some ice-time. We've seen Sauer get ice-time and it's unimpressive. Why call him up if you don't get a chance to see him in action at a higher level than the AHL? Hopefully Brisebois isn't out for too long as the Avs, obviously, aren't too high on the depth chart defensively aside from callups. His play as of late had picked up a bit and he wasn't committing as many "Brisebois" as usual. If he plays solid, he's a definite benefit on the ice and in the locker room.

On the plus side for the D, Ken Klee is continuing his stellar play. He's by no means a superstar but he's been very solid and commits fewer errors than most of our defense. I can only imagine that he's a great presence in the locker room as well. So far, he's on a 3 game point streak and is is +15. He's on pace for a 25 point season which would be his 2nd best season point-wise and he's aiming to finish +34 which would be a career best. Now of course, he's not paired up against teams top lines so his +/- will benefit from that, but he is getting a lot of ice-time, usually in the top 3, so it's nothing to scoff at.

A player to watch for the Blues, at least in terms of ice-time, is Peter Cajanek. Rumours are the he is being actively shopped around as the Blues continue their rebuilding process. Of course, this comes from Darren Dreger of TSN (formerly of Sportsnet) and who knows just how much those guys actually know. When I hear their insider reports from "sources", I always picture a GM telling them "Sure...we're totally interested in trading X for Y. *snicker* Sure, go ahead and report it. *evil grin*"

And how about Manola Legace? He seems to have woken up a bit. He's 3-0-2 and has a 1.78 GAA and .933 save pct in his last 5 games. Could it be that he's finally hitting his stride? After a playoff series like he had, subsequently getting shipped out the door, you'd think he would have came out gunning to start the season. He didn't, but if he keeps playing like this, the Blues won't care all that much about the start of the season. Well, except for when they miss the playoffs by 6 points. Then it'll matter.

Injuries
Leopold - groin, IR
Svatos - groin, day-to-day
Brisebois - back, day-to-day

Drake - upper body, IR
Orszagh - knee, IR
Sanford - groin, IR

Hot
Wolski has 5 in 2, Sakic has 14 in 9, Brunette and Stastny have 5 in 3, Liles and Klee have 3 in 3.

Guerin has 3 in 2, Dvorak and Weight have 4 in 4, Hinote has 3 in 4 and Stempniak has 3 in 3.

Cold
Laperriere has 0 in 7, Arnason has 0 in 3, Laaksonen has 0 in 3.

Tkachuk has 0 in 5, Brewer has 0 in 4.

Goaltenders
Peter Budaj - 9-6-1, 2.48 GAA, .909 save pct
Manny Legace - 8-10-4, 3.02, .894 save pct

Standings
Colorado - 18-16-2, 3rd in NW, 8th in West
St. Louis - 10-19-7, 5th in Central, 15th in West

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