... is to get the eighth seed. Look at the Avs' schedule and you realize a pattern. January is a perfect example:
Wins: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Nashville
Losses: Minnesota, Columbus (2x), Edmonton, St. Louis
Anyone else see a pattern? The Avs have been Detroit twice, played hard with San Jose and Boston but lost to teams like Columbus, Edmonton, Minnesota, Florida and Pheonix. Teams that they frankly should have beaten.
It is really interesting to watch this team play a really good team. They come out with energy, shots and tenacity. Due to the youth and speed of this team, it puts the opposition on their heels a little bit and, over time, opens up opportunities.
For example, look at the Calgary game. The Avs came out real hard, got a few breaks in the beginning but after the first shift, they came hard. They put 20 shots on net in the first period. There have been games where they didn't get as many shots.
Their hard play and cycle down low forced Calgary into two penalties and the Marek Svatos goal. The Avs' power play did a good job of shooting from anywhere. Only downside was they HIT everywhere. On net, off net, side of the net, in the net. It hit everywhere: players, sticks, twine you name it. However, it got the defense moving and opened up passing and shooting lanes. I also collapse the defensemen down between the circles and allowed the Avs to trap them in their zone.
The Avs' breakout tonight was great too. The hit the men skating up ice right in stride and got a quick breakout and break into the offensive zone. It also got the defense moving and opened up opportunites on odd-man rushes and breakaways (see the Stewart goal.)
The Avs played very well tonight and they will have to continue to work like that to compete anymore. They are no longer the team of old that can rely on Sakic and Forsberg and Roy to carry them. They must win through heart, through solid work and through work ethic. If the Avs want to play with heart, look at the 2005-06 Oilers team that went to the Cup. They played every game with so much heart, no team could stop them.
Once Stastny comes back, nothing can change. Sure, we'll be more skilled at center but the game plan can't change. We're simply not good enough win any other way.