Adam Foote. Leadership and a solid steadying presence on the blue. His presence has been sorely missed, and he has begun to skate again. The last time the Avs met the L.A. Kings he was injured by Zeiller. Lappy hadn't forgotten that incident. Good fight Lappy, thanks for all the hard work and sticking up for the team. This is the latest incident in what is turning into a pretty good rivalry that started last season with Ryan Smyth and Jason LaBarbera.
Ivannans wanted to fight McCloud, but he wisely told him no. The bout last year was embarrassing. However, he did manage to get under the Kings skin. That is his job, and tonight he did it well. 2 goals well, and fore checking like a mad man.
Stewart, first NHL goal. Great goal as well, as others here have mentioned, way to use his size! He takes his own rebound and now has a two point night. If he can keep this up, it will be very tough for them to send him down.
David Jones seems to always be one move away from brilliance. Look at the highlight of him undressing Doughty. As soon as he gets used to the extra step that d-men in the NHL have over the d-men in the AHL there is a chance he can be a highly productive goal scorer. That comes with maturity and time, and most importantly the proper development of skill from the coaching staff. I won't guess a number of goals that he is capable of but I will say that he has the potential to be valuable. Nothing like an Ovechkin or Crosby, but a valuable asset no less.
Hensick was moved to the wings for tonights game. He is also getting time on the Power Play. Perfect dish to Smyth in front of the net. Something has not been made much of with him is stick handling. It is very strong, and again with the proper development and help, he will be very hard to send down.
Svatos goal early was a fluke, but a goal for being in the right spot, in front of the net. He was listed as questionable for a return, but wisely with the lead the staff didn't play him. Lets hope he is ok, when he is on his game like he has been lately, he is irreplaceable.
The RPM line played well tonight too. When your best players play to their potential, good things happen. Granato kept them together for the majority of the night, and it paid off. If they stay together the chemistry pays off. The entire team feeds off of that lines work.
Something that needs to be brought up that tends to get looked over is time. The Red Wings are masters of time and patients. They wait to call up players, don't put them in roles they can't handle too soon. The Avs are starting to take a page out of their book. T.J. Hensick-23, Cody McCleod-24, David Jones-24, Cody Mccormick-25, Paul Stastny-22, Marek Svatos-26. There ar more, but this makes my point. Most of these players have seen time in the NHL before, but have not been put in roles where they were expected to be clutch, or the game was laying on them. If the Avalanche do it right they will see these players turn into very good pieces to their puzzle.
I remember a couple of guys named Zetterberg and Datsyuk who weren't rushed up but rather given the proper time to develop. Detroit is known for taking guys in the later rounds, or at later ages(Franzen), and then developing them into full time NHLers. If the Avs keep working on their kids, remaining patient, and developing them the right way, we will see a competitive team sooner than later.
Are we there yet, no. All six of them have some playoff experience, but have not had great seasons with the exception of Svatos and Stastny. These guys will continue to learn their roles on the team, whether that be 4th liner(McCormick), or goal scorer(Jones), or setup man(Hensick) or just plain instigator with an offensive night or two(McLeod). The future of the Avs currently may not hold any prolific goal scorers, but may just have some significant pieces.
Call ups and the depth of an organization are what keep teams in the playoff hunt. The Avs showed last season that they do have depth to remain competitive with their call ups. They aren't nearly as deep as some other teams due to trading off prospects for years but have managed to develop some that have some character, grit, and the ability to score. Keep the development going, add the right veterans, and we may be on the right track for a solid rebuild.
Mr. Giguere don't trade the work away you have done for so long. Develop them into the team you want them to be.