Let's keep it on the ice at first, shall we?
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The Avs 6-1 domination of the Kings on Tuesday night was fun to watch. For once the Avs came out flying in the first period. Svatos' goal was admittedly a bit of a lucky one, but that's why you go to the net. Immediately after the goal, Lappy took care of business with Zeiler for his hit from behind on Foote. This was a perfect example of "the code" working itself out. Lappy dishes out some punishment, Zeiler stands up for himself, and the incident is considered over and done with. You could even see them talking after the linesmen jumped in to break it up, and it seemed like Lappy was confirming to Zeiler that this would be the end of it.
After these events, the Avs decided that it would be their night and capitalized on just about every opportunity they had. The RPM line served notice that they were in the game with Hejduk scoring the second goal just a few seconds after the first.
The Hensick and Codys line was fun to watch as the two bangers made room for Hensick to possess the puck and then set them up. As a result, McLeod scored the Avs' third goal.
It was such a good night for the Avs that they even scored on the PP! Imagine that! Smyth scored to show that the Avs weren't going to let their foot of the necks of the Kings.
Then probably the most entertaining sequence of events: McLeod's second of the night on a nice diving shot, followed by Ivanans getting in his face. Not sure if anything prompted it beyond the embarrassment of having Cody McLeod score on you twice, but McLeod is at his best when he is being a pain in the ass. And his celebration in the penalty box as Ivanans skated by was pretty funny, as was him yelling back at Ivanan's invitation to brawl. It was something along the lines of "Why would I fight you?". Good question. Not much incentive when your team is already up 5-0 and the other guy has 8 inches and 60 pounds on you.
One aspect not to be overlooked is that Budaj quietly turned in another strong game. Unfortunately, Moller scored to ruin his shutout, but other than that he was very steady, controlled his rebounds, and made key saves early in the game when it was still a game.
Stewart got his first goal and has looked progressively better with each game he's played. If he keeps it up, he won't be going anywhere.
Svatos left with an injury. It doesn't sound serious, but with the Avs, who knows. We certainly won't know until he either plays or doesn't play tomorrow.
Avs are now entering a stretch where they will be playing some very good teams, starting tomorrow night with the red-hot Quenneville led Hawks. Budaj will need to be on top of his game to hold the Avs in there in what should be a very entertaining game. Hopefully Granato knows that the Avs will probably have to score 4 or 5 goals to win and won't try to go conservative. Because that won't work.
Now to the bad news. Sakic out 3 months due to a snowblower accident. If your reaction is to feel sorry for Joe, then congrats, you are a well adjusted member of society. If your reaction is to castigate him for having the audacity to do his own snow removal then something is probably wrong with you. If your reaction is to accuse him of doing something he shouldn't have been doing with a bad back, then you may not be up on the latest in snow blowing technology. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he probably doesn't have a crappy snowblower like you have that takes 8 tries to start and leaks tranny fluid. I'm guessing his snowblower puts less strain on his back than I do walking my dog.
Anyways, look, accidents happen. It's a part of life. The blame mentality of our current culture doesn't like to accept that, but it's reality. Yeah he shouldn't have stuck his hand in there, but you're really going to pissed at him for it? It sucks. There's really nothing else to say about it.
However there is plenty to say about where the Avs go from here. I don't know all the ins and outs of the Cap rules, but I do know that the Avs will be entitled to some cap relief from Sakic's stint on the long term IR. Not sure what that exact # will be, and I can't seem to find it anywhere, but let's say that it's 4 mill. Conservative, since Sakic won't play 1/3rd of this season. That gives the Avs 9 million in cap space for the remainder of the year. One question is will the Avs have the will to use it? I don't really know. The Can isn't selling out anymore, and this team has been the definition of mediocre so far. Neither is a motivator for ownership to throw more money at this team.
Beyond that question, what would the Avs be looking for? Well for one, Ben Guite needs to come back immediately. I can't believe I just wrote that, but this team had too many centers to begin with, but now with Sakic and Guite out, they don't have enough. They are getting killed at the faceoff dot because of it, but beyond that, they don't have stability beyond the RPM line. Arnason has actually looked decent playing between Svatos and Wolski, but I'm certainly not comfortable rolling with him as the 2nd line center until mid-March. And these being the Avs, we can pretty much count on another injury at some point.
Hmm, need a center and have money to burn. Hey, I heard that Sundin guy might be available. Well, I still think that's pretty far fetched. As I said before, it might be different if this team was sitting 10 games over .500. I still think that's the determining factor for Sundin. If not, he would have just gone back to the Leafs, where he is revered as a hockey god.
I am still intrigued by the idea of moving Wolski to his "natural" position of center. I have no idea how good he is at faceoffs, or if his defensive awareness is good enough to play center. But could it really be any worse than Arnason's? Perhaps they don't want to move Wolski because Guite is getting close, and I can agree with that logic. If you're going to move him, it should be for the rest of the season unless he bombs miserably. Although I absolutely believe the Avs will explore some trade options, and it will interesting to see which names will come out, what follows is my in house solution if Guite is going to keep missing time:
Not perfect. I think Hensick's talents are wasted a bit with the Codys, but it worked Tuesday. Really the turd in the punchbowl is Arnason. It would be nice to get Guite back and ditch him, but I don't know how realistic that is considering the Avs current problems at center. Probably not going to happen but its fun to think about.
Perhaps a more pertinent question is who sits when Guite does come back? Probably one of the Codys. If Svatos is hurt, then I would just move Jones on to the second line with Arnason and Wolski, and then your third line is Cody-Hensick-Stewart, 4th line is Lappy-Guite-Cody. Lappy and Guite play together for a reason, although I can't tell you what it is.
Well, let the dominoes fall. The bottom line is Guite needs to come back, quick. And don't expect to see Sundin in an Avs jersey.
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