Game 2 Preview: Avalanche vs Canucks - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Game 2 Preview: Avalanche vs Canucks

Matt Duchene faces off against Patrick Marleau on opening night
(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood / Getty Images)
Skyrockets in flight....peeewwww....afternoon delight. That's right, it's an afternoon game today as the Colorado Avalanche take on the Vancouver Canucks at 3:00pm ET.

It's also the last home game before the Avs embark on a 7-game road trip that will test their testicular fortitude pretty early in the season.

If they want to head out on a good note, what better way than to beat
Bobba Lu and the Canucks and still be home in time for supper?

Last game


The ceremony brought tears to everyone's eye's, the puck dropped and the Avalanche walked away with a "W". I expected the first two but not the last one. I'm not sure anybody expected the last one. The team was fast, energetic and had a will to win. Sure, they coughed up 19 shots against in the third period but those first two periods were lights out. If they keep playing with that energy, it's going to be a fun season.

The forwards


We finally got to watch the up-tempo play we were promised last season and it was about darn time! Fast breaks, crashing the net, utilizing the entire offensive zone to cycle rather than just below the goal line. Be still my beating heart.

The players have bought in to Sacco's system right from the start so there will be no struggles to identify roles. Everybody knows what they have to do and appear willing to do it. If the first game is any indication - and let's be honest, it often isn't - the Sacco hiring was a good one.

The one thing I still want the wingers to do is cover their defenseman better. Wingers have a tough assignment in the defensive zone in that they have to be ready to receive the first breakout pass, but also have to watch that the opposing D aren't getting free for point shots. Last season, I harped on it a lot. Last game, the D were still too open for my liking.

The defense


Ryan who? Kyle Quincey seems to have eliminated any doubts anyone - including myself - had about the Ryan Smyth trade. I know Detroit is deep on the blue line but how did they let this guy slip through waivers?

The first two defensive lines were solid Thursday but the third pairing of Brett Clark and Kyle Cumiskey was questionable. Cumiskey seems to be having trouble making puck decisions and ends up holding it too long, which led to San Jose's first goal Thursday night. And everyone's favorite overpaid D, Clark, continues to play a perimeter game and constantly looks to block shots as opposed to stopping players from shooting.

I'm curious is Sacco will swap out Clark for Salei today, showing that vets have to pull their weight too, or if Cumiskey will sit showing that rookies are held to the same standard as the vets. From what I understand of Sacco, he'll give Cumiskey some more rope before tying him to the press box.

The goaltending


How pleasant was it to not cringe/cross your fingers/pray to vishnu/cover your eyes on a shot from beyond the hashmarks? Or on a scramble in front? I found myself very confident with Craig Anderson between the pipes.

Anderson stopped all 19 shots he faced in the third, earning chants of "Anderson" from the Pepsi Center faithful, to pick up his first win in the burgundy sweater. I like Anderson's style as he looks like he's willing to do whatever it takes to make a save. And it looks like this team might need a lot of them.

The lines


With Ruslan Salei and TJ Hensick as healthy scratches, coach Joe Sacco went with the following lines:

Wolski-Stastny-Hejduk
McLeod-Duchene-Svatos
Tucker-Galiardi-Stewart
Koci-O’Reilly-Hendricks

Quincey-Hannan
Foote-Liles
Cumiskey-Clark

It's tough to say if Sacco will try and inject Hensick into the lineup and if so, who would come out. Although he played well on Thursday night, it's entirely possible that Ryan O'Reilly will sit this one out to let Hensick work his stuff. Whatever that may be.

The return of howler


Howler is coming home! At least, I hope he is. The Avalanche said they were bringing back a mascot this season and they currently have a teaser splash page up on their site with a silhouette that looks an awful lot like a comical yeti. Anything less than Howler will bring out two thumbs down from this guy.

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