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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Game Preview: Avalanche vs Oilers

Ryan Smyth celebrates after beating Miikka Kiprusoff
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
It's homecoming time for Ryan Smyth and the question on everyone's mind is whether he'll get a hero's welcome or be booed off the ice. I'll admit to being mildly skeptical on him getting a raring ovation but I'm cynical that way. Although Smyth and Lowe both say there are no hard feelings, some fans may feel differently. Many felt that Smyth and his agent played hardball and he should have taken a bit of a discount to keep his services with the Oilers and when he didn't, he was a "sell out". Which is an overused term might I add.

The media demand for Smyth was so overwhelming that the Avalanche booked him for a press conference yesterday and he will not speak again until after the game. During yesterday's press conference, Smyth held it together until the very end when it became evident that he still cared very much for the city and all the memories generated in his time there. Hopefully the fans remember all those memories and not the sour ending.

To help remind them there will be a video tribute of Smyth that will run before the opening puck drop.

Now, in case anyone forgot, there will be a hockey game played tonight after all this! The Avalanche (4-4-0) are still looking for their first road win and have a good shot against a struggling Oiler (3-5-0) team with a depleted blue line. Free agent pickup Sheldon Souray is out with an injured shoulder and Joni Pitkanen has a tweaked knee which could keep him out of the lineup tonight as well.

The Avalanche have a few injuries of their own to contend with. Former iron man Karlis Skrastins remains in Denver with a shoulder injury while Milan Hejduk remains a game time decision with a sore back. The Avalanche recalled Kyle Cumiskey yesterday to keep 7 active defencemen on the roster and Scott Parker will suit up again if Hejduk sits out.

Paul Stastny continues to lead the Avalanche in points with 14 points which places him 2nd in the NHL behind Zetterberg. He had an off-night against Minnesota which broke his brief point streak. And by off-night I mean he was merely pretty good and not super excellent.

Oh, and Wolski leads the team with a +4 rating. Just wanted to throw that out there. For no particular reason.

The youth movement for the Oilers has to be keeping the fans in Edmonton excited as well. Names such as Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner are being announced over PA systems with regularity. Cogliano is tied with Horcoff for the team lead in points with 6 while Brodziak and Gagner have 5 each. RFA signing Dustin Penner has 2 in 8 and 0 in his last 5. He's got to be feeling the pressure of that contract.

As long as the Avalanche come out in a similar fashion as they did against Minnesota (i.e. realizing they're playing a hockey game) they have a great shot at breaking the goose egg for road wins. However if they come out flat and soft and go down by 3 goals again, I just might curl up in a corner and cry. Or head to Denver early to give the team a pep talk. I'm thinking the James Vanderbeek one from Varsity Blues. "Let's be heroes" *pause* Oh, excuse me for a second there, I just threw up a little.

The game will be in glorious HD on TSN for those in Canada and it starts at 9:00 p.m. ET. Puck drop will be delayed due to the aforementioned video tribute.

Related Links Preview
TSN Preview
Yahoo! Sports Preview
Alanah's Official Smyth to Edmonton thread (with links to tons of stories)