Gameday: Avalanche vs Blackhawks - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gameday: Avalanche vs Blackhawks

After a successful 5-game roadtrip, the Avalanche are now back in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center to kick off a 5-game homestand starting with the Chicago Blackhawks. With a 16-6-0 home record, that's nothing but good news for a team fighting for a playoff spot.

The bad news? Well, in case you hadn't heard, Paul Stastny has joined Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic on the injured reserve list for at least 2 weeks after undergoing an appendectomy yesterday afternoon.

The Lineup
So both top-line centers are down and out meaning somebody is going to have step in to fill the void. That someone will most likely be Jaroslav Hlinka. Although he has spent time down on the fourth line the last couple games, it's not due to lack of talent.

He was lighting it up on the second line before Tyler Arnason came back from wrist surgery so the ability is definitely there. And given that our other centers are Tyler "What Defense?" Arnason, T.J. "Up and Down" Hensick and Ben "Banger" Guite, Hlinka gets the nod almost by default.

As for how things fill in around Hlinka, it likely won't change too much. Wolski-Arnason-Svatos have played well together so Hlinka may just slide in with Brunette and Hejduk and Hensick will then take Hlinka's place on the fourth line.

To me that seems easiest but you never know. The game could open up with Hlinka centering a line with Scott Parker and Johnny Boychuk.

The Goaltending
Jose Theodore gets his 7th straight start tonight as Joel Quenneville has shown no signs of wavering lately. And with a goaltender coming off a 30+ save shutout with a couple days rest in between it would seem a no-brainer that he'd get the start again.

Patrick Lalime will be manning the pipes at the other end as Chicago is having some troubles from their mutli-million dollar goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin. On a 0-6-1 run, it's a situation that I'm sure all Avalanche fans can sympathize with.

The Opponent
The Blackhawks are on a terrible downward spiral going 2-6-2 in their last 10, falling to 14th in the Western Conference.

They recently picked up Craig Adams from the Carolina Hurricanes to inject some veteran presence into a young squad. They also signed Patrick Sharp, their leading goal scorer, to a 4-year extension as he's having a banner season with 22 goals in 44 games. That's 2 more than the career high 20 he put up last season.

And speaking of youth, 19-year old Patrick Kane leads the team in points with 43 as he defies critics who thought he was too small to play at the pro level. At just 163 pounds, it's not hard to see why that was the consensus. I'm curious to see what his second season will be like once teams really start keying in on him.

Related Links Preview
Injured Sauer Receives Some Good News
Theodore piping hot at good time
Hensick in Avs Spotlight
Jose left as Avs peter out (anybody else find this to be a weird title?)
Third Man In Preview (Hawks blog)


Anonymous said...

Teams started keying in on Kane about two months ago. Savard talked about it as soon as it started happening. As you saw tonight, he has the skill to overcome. Phenomenal hands.

Shane Giroux said...

There's no doubt Kane is a hell of a talent but he is small and that could present a problem.

I don't follow the Blackhawks so I have no experience on whether he'll be like Martin St. Louis and overcome the size issues or not.

That's why I'm curious for next year ;)

Anonymous said...

Watch Kane whenever you get the chance. He's special.

Theodore has company as Kane made Bryzgalov look helpless tonight in the shootout on a completely different move.

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