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

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pre-game vs Phoenix - Mar 17, 2007

It's the first of 2 games against Pacific division opponents. The Avs start off with what should be a very winnable game against the Phoenix Coyotes. They're 3-7-0 in their last 10 with latest wins coming against teams such as Philadelphia and the post-Ryan Smyth Oilers. However, don't let that fool you. The Avalanche have been known as a team that plays down to its opponents over the last couple of seasons. With some solid defensive hockey though, I'm considering this game well in hand. Particularly since no Phoenix goaltender has a GAA under 3.00.

Marek Svatos is set to return to action tonight after missing 6 games with a groin injury. The big question is who will sit tonight in favor of Svatos. Scott Parker, although only playing 3-4 minutes each game, seems to bring an element of "Don't F with us" to the ice which the Avs have sorely been lacking. Mark Rycroft seems to be bringing some more grit to his game lately. And those are the only two I could really see being the options to be scratched tonight. I suppose the other option is to sit Svatos for the game and not mess with what appears to be some team chemistry.

Karlis Skrastins is still listed as day-to-day with a knee injury and won't be in the lineup tonight. And that suits me just fine with the way Kurt Sauer and Ossi Vaananen have stepped up their play lately. Sauer in particular has really stepped it up and has been logging a lot of ice-time lately. He's up around 24-25 minutes on average for the past half-dozen games. Previously, if he was lucky enough to be in the lineup, he would get 10-12 minutes. The only thing the Avs miss is the shot-blocking Skrastins did. However, if the team plays well enough defensively, there is less of a need for shot blocks.

Paul Stastny is in line to continue his record-setting point-streak tonight. He has broken the NHL rookie point-streak record and has tied himself with his father for the 2nd longest point-streak in franchise history. TSN has a poll on who should win the Calder, Malkin or Crosby. At the time of writing, it was 55%-45% in favor of Malkin. If this was before the Christmas break, or even before the AllStart break, it would be 75%-25% in favor of Malkin. Stastny is making a great run at the end of the season and I would be extremely happy to see him win the Calder. More happy to see the Avalanche make the playoffs of course but you take what you can get.

The playoff star JAM line has been separated for a while now but all three players are continuing to produce. Sakic is on pace for 92 points and Hejduk has put himself on pace for a 34 goal season. That's about $100,000 per goal for those keeping track. Not as much is asked of from Andrew Brunette and his $800,000 contract but he's quietly put himself on pace for career highs on all offensive categories. After a brief slump, he's now got 3 points in his last 2 games and is easily the best post-lockout signing Lacroix made. If the Avs want to keep their playoff hopes alive, those 3 need to continue producing and leading the team on - and off- the ice.

With the advent of NHL Centre Ice Online, the NHL has taken another step towards allowing more people to view their product. I just purchases this recently and will be watching the Avs game tonight and most any other night that they play. This will keep me from having to bother my boss to go watch games at his place! It's only available for US and Canadian residents which is unfortunate. They didn't provide a reason as to why it's done this way but it must have something to do with broadcasting rights. Which I think are, for the most part, a load of crap. But that's for another day.

Brisebois - back, IR
Turgeon - calf, IR
Leopold - wrist, mid-March
Skrastins - knee, day-to-day

Jovanovski - abdominal, IR
Bell - knee, day-to-day
Fischer - abdominal, IR
Ricci - neck, IR
Scatchard - concussion, IR

Sakic has 16 in 14, Stastny has 17 in 11, Hejduk has 13 in 8, Wolski has 4 in 5, Brunette has 3 in 2.

Nolan and Tjarnqvist have 3 in 3, Kapanen has 4 in 3, Thomas has 3 in 2.

Arnason and Liles have 0 in 4, Laperriere has 1 in 4, Klee has 0 in 5.

Sjostrom has 0 in 3, Boynton has 0 in 9, Ballard has 1 in 4.

Peter Budaj - 24-15-5, 2.71 GAA, .906 save pct
Curtis Joseph - 15-25-1, 3.12 GAA, .897 save pct

Colorado - 35-29-6, 4th in NW, 9th in West
Phoenix - 28-39-3, 5th in Pacific, 15th in West


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