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" • Canada • 26 Years Old • Male
It’s not often that the Lightning and Avalanche get together. As I mentioned in one my other game previews, that is going to be one really nice thing about re-alignment. We will get to see all these Western teams twice a year. Not only will it help to create rivalries, but it will really help spread the game across the United States. I can’t be the only one who is excited to see guys like Patrick Kane, the Sedins, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Joe Thornton and many others more often, can I? Next season is going to be a riot. As a Lightning fan, there isn’t much to do but dream of next season. That being said, there is a game going on today against the Colorado Avalanche of the Northwest Division.

The Back Story
The Colorado Avalanche are one of those teams that is just downright awful this season. When you look at the roster, you would think that the Avs would be a much better team. Does that seem at all familiar to anyone in the Lightning community? The Avs boast some nice pieces. The likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson and Milan Hejduk are all very solid players. So, why is it that this team isn’t higher in the standings? Looking at those names, you’d think this team would be playoff bound.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Joe Sacco as the coach of that team. Watching the Avs, it’s like they don’t have an identity. Are they young and fast? Smart and structured? The team needs a coach to come in and bring an identity with him. Darryl Sutter promised Kings fans that he would give this team an identity and that’s exactly what the Avs need.

The biggest move the Avs made this offseason was the trade to acquire Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals. Can everyone please spell out overpayment? O-V-E-R-P-A-Y-M-E-N-T. Giving up a potential top 5 pick this season and more was downright ridiculous. The thought behind the trade was nice and dandy, but after 3 months of the season we can pretty much call it a bust. On the other hand, J.S Giguere, the goaltender brought in to be that veteran back-up, is playing lights out hockey. He is really one of the only reasons that the Avalanche are even in the hunt for a playoff spot. Now, I’ve always liked Giguere. He is one of those guys who just comes across as very genuine and smart. His ability to make saves when the team needs him to is just uncanny.

When you look at the names listed above, it’s pretty surprising that Ryan O’Reilly is the leading scorer of this club. It really speaks to the lack of offense this team is getting from key sources. Now, I have my theories about what has happened down in Colorado. It pertains to the playoff run they made two seasons back. Nobody in the hockey world expected the Avs to do anything that year. They were fresh off drafting Matt Duchene and people thought it was going to be another re-build year. Instead, the team made the playoffs. To me, that really stunted the development of some of the younger players on that roster.

So, what’s the reason for this entire back story? I suppose it’s to emphasize that there are teams out there in bigger trouble than the Tampa Bay Lightning. Even more so, we have a great chance to win this game tomorrow. As I’ve said in my past few blogs, these pre-Christmas games are some of the most important games this season. This team is such a mess right now and I believe that the holiday games could really help turn it around. The Lightning website had a great quote from Marty St. Louis regarding this:

“We have to look at this as a must-win before Christmas. We've got an easier schedule after Christmas, being at home a bit more. It's never easy coming out here. But now we have a chance to win in Colorado and come back home 1-1. We just have to answer for this.” – Martin St. Louis, on the importance of winning Friday’s game against Colorado

I don’t even think that this game has as much to do with the schedule after Christmas as it does with the mentality heading into the new year. This team needs this win in order to have the right mindset in the quest for the playoffs. Way back at the start of December when I took a good look at the schedule, I told myself that the San Jose game was probably going to be a loss, but I knew that this game was VERY winnable.

The Avs defense is very weak (maybe not as weak as ours) and it should be the perfect game for Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis to go to work. With that said, the Avs do have some very talented forwards. I expect this to be a very high scoring game due to both teams being incredibly weak in the defensive zone. My prediction for the game is 5-4 for the Bolts. Call me crazy, but I think this is a win.

Enjoy the game and I’ll be back with my post-game analysis and thoughts later tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading.

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   colorado   avalanche   preview  
December 23, 2011 7:08 AM ET | Delete
If we suit up my 5 year old as our goalie, plus put my 7 and 9 year olds on the blueline we might just have a chance to win.
December 23, 2011 11:44 AM ET | Delete
For the record, the Avs are playing better of late, led by Giguere and are on a seven game winning streak at home right now. They haven't been great but they have been better.
December 23, 2011 12:00 PM ET | Delete
Artyukhin: Can you get them on a plane to Denver now? There may still be time.
December 23, 2011 12:01 PM ET | Delete
Martok: Yes, better for sure. That being said, I find the offensive numbers of some of your guys really concerning. I'd love to get your opinion on the Varlamov trade.
December 23, 2011 12:23 PM ET | Delete
great work!
December 23, 2011 12:42 PM ET | Delete
Thanks, Eklund!
December 23, 2011 1:25 PM ET | Delete
The offensive numbers are indicative of a team short on real scoring talent and a coach with no offensive creativity. Varlamov isnt worth the price paid but when he's on his game and confident, he's hard to beat. Avs bigger d, once it matures, and the presence of giguere has helped him develop more than washington ever did
December 23, 2011 1:39 PM ET | Delete
Hey Eklund, why don't you put him on the front were he belongs. It's been some time since we had a legitimate Lightning Blogger (Jon Jordan).
December 23, 2011 2:05 PM ET | Delete
Martok: I've never been a fan of Joe Sacco as the coach of that team. With young players like Duchene, and now Landeskog, he should let them run free and have some fun on the offensive side of the puck. That's just my opinion.Artyukhin: Thanks for the vote of support.
December 23, 2011 7:15 PM ET | Delete
Quite a bit of bashing coming from a team thats 5 points behind this "downright awful teams."Looks even worse when you factor in that the avs are the youngest team in the league and spend 10 million dollars less.Factoring in the avs domination of eastern teams, hot streak at home, and recent play, this guy is much less winnable than you think.
December 23, 2011 7:26 PM ET | Delete
Both rosters are underperforming at this point. The Avs are a mess right now as are the Lightning. Just looking at the style each team plays, this is a winnable game for the Lightning. I don't believe that your team is much better than the standings indicate; I do believe ours is. That's just my opinion though.
December 23, 2011 7:34 PM ET | Delete
Don't bother with him. He's just bitter that his team isn't there anymore and the coach doesn't speak French (no really French).
December 23, 2011 7:51 PM ET | Delete
???I live in Montreal, and i'm anglophone. I also despise the habs.I just find it amusing that theres an entire article bashing a team, while his own team is playing worse, regardless of why he thinks the reason is.I mean, theres quite a contradiction in his own statements. He claims that our roster is underperforming, but yet, he believes were where we should be in the standings.
December 23, 2011 8:08 PM ET | Delete
I don't know were you live and I frankly don't care, what I see is you avatar and it's of a now defunct team.
December 23, 2011 8:12 PM ET | Delete
I'm failing to see the relevance to any of the comments i've made.I believe its because there is none.
December 23, 2011 9:21 PM ET | Delete
You are paying 10 million less because you are so young. Wait a few years and most of them you will be struggling to afford. We dump 1 contract and we are almost on even ground. All we need is a penalty free buyout in the next CBA and it WILL happen. By the way, what were the Avs doing during the playoffs, oh that's right, watching from home.
December 23, 2011 10:17 PM ET | Delete
Had a feeling the conversation was pointless from the beginning. Glad that you clarified that for me.
December 23, 2011 10:29 PM ET | Delete
I love arrogant canadians like you. Makes me glad I moved away.
December 23, 2011 10:38 PM ET | Delete
That makes two of us.
December 24, 2011 12:19 AM ET | Delete
Over all that was a much better effort then the San Jose massacre on Wednesday. We continue to play like that and wins will come. I still want to see some tweaks to the roster like better D and a legit no. 1 goalie. All and all it was better. Next time let try and get 2 points.
December 24, 2011 1:56 AM ET | Delete
Eddie: At no point did I say your team doesn't have the talent to compete. I just said that you aren't coached well. That's my personal opinion. The way you play due to Sacco isn't working. Are you really going to sit here and tell me that you predicted the Avs to finish higher than the Lightning this season? We boast better top end talent, and as a result, should be doing much better than you guys. Unfortunately, at this point we aren't.
December 24, 2011 1:57 AM ET | Delete
Artyukhin: It was a better effort. Goal in OT wasn't beautiful. I'm working on my post-game now.
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Blog Archive

01 Lightning News and Notes to Start December
02 Why Bolts Must Get Into Bobby Ryan Trade Discussions
02 Breaking News: Lightning Make Minor Trade with Panthers
03 10 Bold Predictions for Rangers vs. Lightning Game
04 Lightning Lose to Rangers: My Prediction Round Up
06 Simply Embarassing: Lightning Drop 5th Straight to Islanders
08 Lightning Beat Rangers to End Losing Streak - Mixed Bag
10 The 1-3-1 Returns: Flyers Take on Bolts at Wells Fargo
11 Lightning Fall to Flyers: The Slot Looks Like a Drive-Thru
12 From Bad to Worse + Lightning Sign Miettinen
14 Lightning Talk: Defensemen to Target in Free Agent Frenzy
14 Scenario
15 Bolts Squeeze By Flames Thanks to Dominant Second Period
17 Lightning Should Make a Push for Shea Weber
18 Bolts Down Blue Jackets + Rumor Round-Up
20 Why the Lightning WILL make the Playoffs This Season
22 Lightning Embarrassed by Sharks in San Jose: U-G-L-Y
22 Tampa Bay Lightning: I Want Your Opinions
23 Bolts vs. Avalanche: A Long-Winded Game Preview
24 Bolts Lose to Avalanche in Goalie Battle + Rumor Round-Up
25 Risky Business: Victor Hedman and Other Top-5 D-Men
26 Flyers vs. Bolts Shaping Up to be a Great Game -- Preview
27 Next 6 Games Vital for Lightning + My Predictions
27 Bryzgalov Shaky as Lightning Beat Up on Flyers
29 A Tale of Two Underperforming Teams: Bolts vs. Canadiens
29 A V for Vinny, a V for Victory: Bolts Down Habs 4-3
30 Bolts/Canes Preview + HB Hotstove Response + Rumor Update
31 Lightning Defeat 'Canes 5-2 on Phil Esposito Night