Avs win a nice game Thursday night against Dallas, coming up with a goal late in the third to win. Unfortunately, the good vibes from Thursday were erased by yet another steaming pile of a game on Saturday in St. Louis. Some absolutely horrific defensive lapses in the second period put the Avs on their heels and they simply couldn't recover. Not only did they lose, but the Avs didn't even put up much of a challenge in third period.
Notice to Internet Explorer Users
While I agree that the sub-par goaltending erodes the defensive confidence in a team, I also believe that the Avs inability to generate transition offense has little to do with either Budaj or Raycfroft. It has much more to do with the recent difficulty the Avs defensemen are having making a good, direct first pass. Without that quality first pass, the forwards can only hope to chip the puck out of the zone, they can't find a teammate with speed to generate anything in the neutral zone.
This type of analysis is beginning to feel pointless anyhow. The Avs have 29 games remaining. They have 51 points. They would need to go 21-8 in order to get 93 pts and a playoff berth. The odds of that happening are very long.
The only draw now in the season for Avs fans is to see what type of rebuilding project will be undertaken by the front office. I have stated before that because of the parity in the NHL and some of the young talent on this roster, the Avs may "only" be a quality goaltender and another piece or two away from seriously competing for the Cup again. But then again, they may not. Good arguments can be made both for keeping the majority of this team intact and also for the "total rebuild". We will see what management believes by their actions leading up to the trading deadline.
Today brings news of a Hejduk trade rumor from Eklund. This is the first signal from management that they are considering the "total rebuild" option. The pros of this approach are mainly that it would mark a different tact than the one taken by management in past years and that if it is indeed necessary, then it's better to do it now. Is it necessary to deal guys like Hejduk, Smyth and Liles and for Sakic and Foote to retire to move this franchise to its next productive phase? I'm honestly not sure.
Some organizations have been able to transition to their next phase without missing a beat (Detroit, New Jersey), but it seems many more have had to endure some harsh times before rising again (Chicago, Pittsburgh). The biggest drawback of the total rebuild is the time it takes to be succesful. Now, done correctly, it shouldn't take as long as it did in Chicago. But it could easily take three seasons, maybe more. Does the fanbase have the patience for that? If it gets screwed up, could the Avs be in danger as a franchise five or seven years down the road? It seems hard to imagine, but it is a real possibility.
Denver has a much more developed hockey culture now than when the Rockies left in the 80's, but I remember when DU hockey was the best hockey in town and there were only 5 youth associations in the entire metro area. It wasn't that long ago. I hope that it couldn't happen again, but who knows? The landscape could look very different if the Can is only half full for three or four seasons.
It will be interesting to see which direction management goes. If we only see guys like Arnason and Leopold getting traded (veteran UFAs), then you know they will be hoping again to make that one off season signing that will push them over the hump (a goalie). That is what I expect to happen, but if the Avs continue to lose and a top 2 pick looks more likely, I wonder what will happen. Will the perceived opportunity cost of delaying a total rebuilding project cause management to jump at the chance? Or will the risk of catastrophic failure and the loss of season ticket deposits force continued mediocrity? Stay tuned.
There is an issue with the form blow that will make it appear that nothing happens when you click the post message button below. To see your message, after you click the post message button, refresh this page. Sorry for the troubles, we hope to have it fixed soon.