Pre-game vs Phoenix - Jan 17, 2007 - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pre-game vs Phoenix - Jan 17, 2007

The Colorado Avalanche begin a three-game homestand tonight as they welcome the surging Phoenix Coyotes to the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche are a modest 11-10-2 at home this year and they will be facing a rejuvenated Phoenix squad as they try to improve that number. The Coyotes have won 8 of their last 10 games including an impressive 6-game road winning streak.

Behind the resurgence of the Coyotes is the emergence of Mikael Tellqvist as the current #1 netminder and Yanic Perrault proving every other GM wrong about how valuable he could be. Since acquiring Perrault, he has become their 5th leading scorer and is the goals leader on the team with 15 in 33 games played including 4 game-winning goals. I had secretely hoped the Avs would pick up Perrault, for his face-off prowess if anything. He hasn't disappointed in that category either as he leads the league with a 62% success rate.

But enough about the Coyotes! On the Avalanche side, they've taken a long hard look at their penalty kill efforts as of late and are trying to remedy that. Most of Tuesday's practice was centered around the penalty kill and every player knows it's not good enough right now. The consenting opinion is that they are too passive and give up the zone far too easily. That's about as obvious as it gets if you ask me but I don't think anybody did. I didn't get a call from Joel Quenneville lately anyways.

They also need to keep weathering the assault that their blueline is taking at the moment. The Avs are dressing Kurt Sauer, who is a virtual rookie, and Kyle Cumiskey, a full-blown rookie, and have them playing on the same line. As much as people can say not to point fingers at the D alone, it's fairly obvious that without Brisebois and Liles, they are hurting. Although Brisebois and Liles aren't known for defensive prowess, what they are known for is being puck-moving D who can lead breakouts farther than the Avs own blueline. Watching the Avalanche trapped in their own end for half of each game lately is just painful and does nothing for my blood pressure. Thankfully I don't have high blood pressure in general, only when I watch the games live.

Thankfully, help on the blueline may be on the way by the time the All-Star break is done. Early reports suggest that Jordan Leopold could be ready to go for the Avs first game after the break, which is against Phoenix. I'm hoping that Brisebois will be back by that time as well. That would only leave Liles on the fence and he would likely be back two weeks following that which would give the Avalanche a healthy blueline for the stretch run.

The Avalanche would be in a full-fledged slump right now were it not for the emergence of Peter Budaj as the goaltending hero we've all been dying for since Roy left. No, I'm not saying he's as good as Roy. Far from it. But in the short term, we need a goalie who can steal some points and he has done just that. The Anaheim game should have been nowhere near a shootout yet he held the team in. The Sharks game was a close one if not for the 3 powerplay goals given up, 3 of which I'd say Budaj had no real chance on. Let's hope he continues his ways tonight as, although Phoenix is streaking, I see no reason that the Avalanche can't walk away with 2 points tonight.

Leopold - groin, IR
Liles - foot, IR
Brisebois - back, day-to-day

Mike Ricci - neck, IR

Sakic has 4 in 3, Stastny has 13 in 12, Brunette has 13 in 12, Wolski has 11 in 11.

Mclean has 0 in 5, Arnason and Turgeon have 0 in 3.

Sjostrom and Adams have 0 in 4, Saprykin and Scatchard have 0 in 3

Peter Budaj - 13-10-2, 2.58 GAA, .909 save pct
Curtis Joseph - 11-15-0, 3.15 GAA, .893 save pct

Colorado - 22-20-3, 5th in NW, 10th in West
Phoenix - 21-22-4, 4th in Pacific, 11th in West


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