16 games in, I am not very surprised about how the Avs are playing. They're having some problems with consistant effort and, in particular, burying the puck. Goaltending had a rather precocious start but has gotten better as of late (the loss to Columbus notwithstanding.) Here's my breakdown of the five areas:
Offense: We have a lot of talent, that's for sure. The line of Smyth, Stastny and Hejduk is going to be really good once they break the scoring dam the Avs are under. They cycle well and complement each other perfectly. Our second line will be fine if and when Marek Svatos finds his game again. Wolski and Svatos have both had good chances with very few goals. Put either Hensick or Sakic between them and magic will happen. The third line is by far the team's weakest link. Arnason is just a waste of space. He gives up the puck a lot and consistantly makes really stupid decisions. The Fourth line is great. They bring 100% every game. McLeod has been so electric to this team, it is really great to have him on the team. The main problem of the offense is their passing. If they improve their passing, making it more accurate, they'll score a lot more goals.
Outlook: We'll be fine once the second line clicks in. Tucker is settling in nicely and I can see a definite improvement in this game.
Best player: Milan Hejduk
Heart award: Cody McLeod
Doghouse: Tyler Arnason
Defense: After an inconsistent start, the defense has stepped up. It is remarkable how in every game every defenseman usually plays with every other defenseman. We have a really good six that work well with each other. Look for one to get moved if the Avs need to make a trade.
Best Player: Jordan Leopold
Heart award: Brett Clark
Doghouse: Ruslan Salei
Goaltending: Like the Defense, it has been inconsistent but has gotten better. Peter Budaj has found his game lately but is still letting big rebounds get away from them. Raycroft is hard to judge. He played well against Philly but terrible against Columbus. Jury's still out.
Best player: Peter Budaj
Doghouse: Andrew Raycroft
Special teams: This is also a weak link. The PP overpasses while the PK overpursues. The Power Play needs to stop trying to find the man in the slot. Work from the side boards and look for one touch passes to get the defense moving and open passing lanes across the ice. PK can't overpurse. It gets them to open up too much.
Best PP guy: Ryan Smyth
Best PK guy: Adam Foote
Doghouse: Marek Svatos
Coaching: Granato's the coach, no changing that now. His up-tempo style worked well for the first two weeks. He just needs to make more plays. The offense has become a one-trick pony. Like Raycroft, it is hard to judge him.
Possible moves: I can see the Avs coming out of nowhere to sign Sundin and Forsberg. Sounds just like them. However, they need a number one goalie. Peter Budaj has played well but we need an upgrade. If I were a betting man, I would be on Manny Legace coming here. He's not happy in St. Louis and is in the last year of his contract.