At the beginning of the month, I admit I was pretty skeptical about the Avs chances to make the playoffs. With the injuries to Sakic and Smytty it was looking more and more likely that the Avs could miss the 2nd season for a second season in a row. The month did not start out very well as the team continued its dismal end to December, going 1-3 in the first 10 days but dramatically rebounded, going 5-2-1 in the last 20 days. After our two leading leaders went down, the Avs were dealt another blow when Stastny decided that he no longer needed his appendix, going down to injury for 2-3 weeks on Jan 17.
What happened? No question about it - heart. The team really did an about-face and met adversity head-on, changing its style of play from a playmaking, skilled team to a gritty, in-your-face, fighting team. I really think kudos go out to Hlinka, Hensick (who is looking more dangerous every game he plays) Hejduk and Hannan (who looks way more like a shut-down d-man now and much more comfortable back there) have stepped up. Yes that's right, since we lost almost all of our 'S' players, including Sauer, the 'H's proved they could at least drag the load if not carry it.
But let's not kid ourselves...The Avs have a VERY tough Feb and Mar, still without Joe and Ryan. Every game, except for the one against Edm, is against teams that are either in the playoffs or JUST out and in the last 11 days, the Avs play 7 times, 6 of those being road games.
If I were FG (Francois Giguere) at the beginning of January I probably would've panicked and made a rash trade for some help, whether on the blueline or up front. I applaud this man's patience. It seems logical that, if the team can play like this without our top 3 players, when they return we should be that much better. However that's not always the case.
It might still prove beneficial to trade someone like Liles and with Svatos' stock ever-rising FG might decide the time is right to get a good return for our little spark-plug. We'll have to see how much Dion signs for - not that Liles is in the same league as him, but it will certainly set the bar for d-men and the ridiculous $ they will receive.
I guess at this point, the old cliche is true with respect to what the Avs might or might not do: only time will tell. Let the madness of trade-deadline month begin!