Game Preview: Avalanche vs Flames - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Monday, October 15, 2007

Game Preview: Avalanche vs Flames

Sakic skates off after recording a hat trick against the Blue Jackets
(AP Photo/Will Powers)
It's the first game of the year between two teams who found themselves entrenched in a playoff race for the ages last season. The Flames got in by 1 point - in case anyone had forgotten - and the Avalanche were stuck on the sidelines. They both hope to get off to a good start to avoid another race this season and this game could go a long way to swinging the tide for either team.

The Avalanche are coming off a big 5-1 win against Columbus Saturday night. And by "big" I'm talking point margin, not big as in they just beat Detroit or Ottawa (flame away at me if you must). However, the team was looking to be moving well, the line combinations seemed to be clicking, defensive assignments were being followed and they've got me feeling very optimistic about the game today.

A large part of my optimism lies with the line combinations coach Q went with against the Jackets. He moved Wolski back up with Sakic and Brunette while bumping Hlinka down to the third line with Arnason and Svatos, leaving with Smyth with Stastny and Hejduk. Those are exactly the lines that about 99% of Avalanche fans were hoping for during the off-season. If only the staff would read the blogs, read the forums and answer my phone calls, then we wouldn't have had to sit through 4 games of line tinkering.

With the new lines, Sakic netted a hat trick, Hedjuk potted two goals and an assist, Brunette and Wolski both had 2 assists and Smyth and Stastny each had an assist. Smyth also contributed on two other goals but there is no stat tracked for "distracting the goaltender". Yes, it was against the Jackets but it was also against a hot goaltender in Pascal Leclaire while coming off a tough loss to St. Louis the night before.

Peter Budaj gets the call in net tonight which hopefully comes as no surprise to anybody. Jordan Leopold will also be in the lineup after sitting a couple games with a hip injury. Let's hope this game against the Flames doesn't end with another broken wrist for Jordan. *knocks wood* As for who will sit on D, I'd prefer to have Skrastins sit again but odds are Finger will be the one watching from the press box.

The Flames got off to a slow start but are on a 2-game win streak after a 3-2 comeback win against the Stars Friday followed by a 7-4 win against the Predators on Saturday. Miikka Kiprusoff has not posted up Kipper-like numbers with a 3.33 GAA and .875 save percentage but it's only a matter of time before those start to improve. Meanwhile, Daymond Langkow is off to a great start with 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 games.

Both teams have been off since their respective Saturday night wins. The Avalanche are still perfect at home this season and were 5-3-0 against the Flames last season. Hopefully my "the more things change" philosphy takes a hiatus tonight.

Colorado - 3-2-0, 2nd in NW, 6th in West
Calgary - 2-2-1, 4th in NW, 10th in West

BREAKING UPDATE: According to the game notes, Mick McGeough will be one of the refs. Set your phasers to "STUNNED!" in anticipation of a crazy call or two tonight.

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Sakic Receives NHL Foundation Player Award


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