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?