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"Love the Game First, Avs Second"
Gillette, WY • United States • 29 Years Old • Male
Overall a much better effort by a team that is capable of putting up offensive numbers. Raycroft struggled this game and the score showed it. The first goal was a slow roller off of his glove. He had it, just played it slightly wrong, and the pucks momentum kept it going. Soft goal to begin the game, but the Avs came back and answered with two very quickly.

Stastny likes that right side of the goal mouth recently. Just about every one of his goals has come from about there to the edge of the right slot. He is a leader, always willing to go to the tough spots, and not afraid to take a check either to deliver for the team.

Ryan Smyth worked hard as well. When he is on, he is truly one of the better players in the league. He has a slap shot, as well as his noted presence around the net. His slapshot from the right circle beat Bryzgalov and gave the Avs some much needed momentum. His feed on Hejduk's goal was a combination of beauty and hard work. If you have never played the game where he lives, it is tough to explain, but it is one of the toughest jobs in hockey. When Smyth is on, he has the ability to carry a team by himself.

Hejduk is a just a plain steady performer. He continues to quietly score goals for this team, and be solid defensively. He will reach the 300 career goal mark this year, which is no small feet. He plays both ways and with recent developments will be taking on an even more prominent role on the team.

Clark redeemed his late penalty by scoring the OT winner. However, that point for simply making it to overtime could come back to haunt him, and the team as well. If the Coyotes beat the Avs into the playoffs by one point, which is very possible, this game was the deciding point on their season. A three point game with the Tampa Bay Lightning doesn't effect much because they are in opposite conferences. Against the Coyotes they are a conference rival, with both teams floating on the playoff bubble.

If the Avs truly want to be successful, they need to win in regulation against teams that are in their conference. It is even more important to beat the teams that are in their division in regulation. Since the lockout the three point game has been the single largest factor in the jumble up in the bottom of the playoff pool.

The next area that needs to be improved upon drastically by this team is the protection of a lead. Leads have been lost on numerous occasions this season. The end result of the loss of this lead is Stastny's broken arm. If the lead had been protected, there wouldn't have been a need for overtime, let alone Stastny taking a slap shot in the fore arm, resulting in it being broken.

This means that the top two centers for this team are out for long periods of time. We don't know the severity of the break yet, but I would guess a minimum of 3 weeks, with a max of 7, yes seven weeks. It really depends on how quick of a healer he is, as well as the severity of the break. He will be able to stay in shape, skate, and ride the bike, but will not be able to practice until the cast is removed. It will take a while for the cast to be removed, as well as the bone to heal properly, allowing for contact. Once he is cleared for contact we have to remember that it will take him a while to get his movement back, as well as the strength in his arm.

So now we have a real problem. Stastny is out long term, so is Sakick, and Arnason is the best we have, yippppeeeeee!!!!!!!! Hensick supposedly isn't ready for full time duty as a 2nd line center, so now we have a coaching staff that doesn't believe in some of the depth players. So what are the options:

1. Wolski moves to center with Smyth and Hejduk. Arnason then continues playing on the second line. Lappy and Guite then split duty for the third and fourth lines.
2. FG gets on the phone and annoys the tar out of every other GM until he can land a legit top six forward who can score.
3. We see lots of call ups for "character" guys, and we go back to an all out neutral zone trap winning and losing 2-1 games continuing to hover at a .500 record. No moves are made, and the fan base continues to become more and more frustrated with the management.
4. Tony Granato is let go, FG is asked to take on a new role on the team, Pierre LaCroix takes over as GM for the time being, hires a new coach, and the total rebuild begins.

As Avalanche fans we have to realize something here. It is going to take a lot of things to get a major piece in a trade. Spezza rumors are still swirling, but it might take the loss of Liles or Leopold to make that work, plus Clark and Arnason. That on top of picks. The only way we will get a quality center will be from a team that is losing money, and losing money fast. Several places come to mind when it comes to a loss of money: Phoenix, Florida, Tampa, Atlanta, and New York Islanders. Secondary teams that may want to shed salary in the wake of an impending lowering of the Salary cap would be New York Rangers, Chicago(likely won't mess with a good thing), Detroit(Hard time filling stands and pending UFA's could put the juggernaut in a position to deal, however this is THE best management team in hockey), and maybe even Montreal(unlikely due to the 100 year anniversary).

If the injury turns into something that could be fairly long in nature, the management has to decide what to do with this season. If management believes that they can make a run for the playoffs and make some noise there, look for a trade to happen. If one does not happen, the team is very likely in full rebuild mode. Good luck navigating these tricky waters. Mortgage the future for this season or rebuild completely, that is the question?
December 24, 2008 5:21 PM ET | Delete
Spezza makes $7 million dollars for the next five years. Add that to Stastny and Smyth at $6 and it becomes hard to build a team around it. No, the answer lies in the draft.
December 24, 2008 5:28 PM ET | Delete
You and I are in agreement on drafting for the future. It is what I want to see the Avs do. Above is a list of options, my pick is option number 4. However, reading the comments left on the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain news, the fan base is getting very frustrated. FG may be feeling the heat. Several comments have been left by people saying they aren't going to see games this year due to a mediocre product.
December 24, 2008 7:52 PM ET | Delete
The worst thing they could do is try to load up to make the playoffs.Sadly, the loss of two centres of that calibre will be too much for the Avalanche to compete properly. It would be far wiser to sell off the UFA components and re-tool through the draft, there is a very nice core of young forwards to build around in Colorado,
December 25, 2008 1:15 PM ET | Delete
I keep hearing rumors that the avalanche will send arnason to the Sens ina package for Spezza, but has everyone forgotten who Arnie played for before he signed with us? OTTAWA, and he was just as lazy and unproductive for them as he is for us, so although I hope we can get Spezza because he is a great player Arnie will not be a part of the deal, Murray is too smart to take Arnason back
December 25, 2008 2:00 PM ET | Delete
If Arnason is taken by another team it will be in a big trade. It will be done because the team we trade with for a center will now need another center. However, he comes off of their books this summer. They don't have to resign him, and he is simply a hole filler until the end of the season. In the case of a Spezza trade, he has a 7 million cap hit, Arnason has a 1.675 hit. We currently have about 5 million in cap space based on ow long Sakic will be out, on top of that what will come off of the books from the Stastny injury. Ottawa needs a defenseman, most likely Clark, or Leopold. If Clark leaves he takes his. 3.5 hit with him as well. Leopold is a 1.500 hit, so that could go as well. If the Avs get Spezza, or any other high dollar player for that matter it will be in part due to fact that the team giving up the high dollar player is looking to dump salary. Say it is Arnason/Clark and a couple picks for Spezza. Well the Sens dump a 7 million cap hit, while taking on a 5.25 hit for one year, then the following, not resigning Arnason, then only having to pay Clark for one year at a hit of 3.5. The idea is that it creates more space for Ottawa to maneuver at the deadline as well as for the impending lowering of the cap. Keep in mind that trades this year will likely be done to create space in order to not have to cut players during the summer because the cap number has gone down. I am not decided on whether or not I like that trade prospect simply because it may add a good player for several years, but at the same time creates another void in our drafting. Just remember that cash strapped teams may be willing to lose out on an upper end player if it will help with their cash issues. As it stands not it doesn't look like Ottawa is going to be the force it was in the East two years ago. The big three isn't working there, see what happens, likely nothing.All that said, build through the draft please, don't mortgage our future just to make sure we fill the stands this season.
December 27, 2008 1:13 PM ET | Delete
but you're not hearing me lol, Ottawa has already seen first hand what Arnason can do, realistically speaking they would ask for Wolski, Clark and a first round pick for Spezza if we make a deal for Spezza Arnason will not be included in it at all, when he played for the Sens they had him as a healthy scratch in playoff games, trust me they do not want him back even if it's to "fill up space until he is off the books" the best way to get rid of Arnason is to ship him to atlanta for a 5th round pick. I mean no disrespect to your theories when i say that this will never happen but, it will never happen.
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