Those of you who are hardcore Avalanche fans remember that last year when injuries took their toll on the Avs it was just plain hard work from players that kept them in the playoff hunt. If the Avs want to see the post season the same thing will happen this season. Both goals were garbage goals, but the hard work and willingness to drive to the net won that game.
First player of note is obviously Wojtek Wolski. He is now the pulse of this team, and has come alive since being moved to the top line center position. His back checking is far and away better, and he knows how to use his size up the middle. 1 goal and one assist for a 2 point night. Keep him at center Granato.
Ryan Smyth played well, drove to the net, took his shots, and back checked like crazy. He is a heart and soul player, and will be a major leader in pushing the Avs forward through this stretch.
The "second" line played very well. There aren't many lines that can function like the Jones, Hensick, Stewart line. It is very apparent that they have played together, and they are FAST! Hensick and Stewart about connected on a tip in goal, but the Bulin wall held strong. Jones continues to push defenseman to recognize his speed. Hensick looked like a number two center last night. He worked hard showed his speed, a new level of confidence, and made a strong case for him to stick next season at the top six. If these three keep it up, we have some very positive things to look forward to as fans.
Brett Clark must have an alter ego as a goalie. I hate blocking shots, but am willing to do it. It looks like he enjoys it.
John Michael Liles showed a lot of effort. He is a solid defenseman and that type of effort night in and night out will help keep this team in playoff contention.
Hannan is handling his shut down role much better. He still plays better with Foote, but he is notably improved over last season. He moves the puck more with Foote in, but that will be limited until AF returns to the line up.
Salei is such an up and down d-man. Its almost painful at points. He has a big shot, and is successful when he can use it. However he doesn't possess the stick handling to make the usual one move it takes to get a shot off from the point during the power play.
The power play again looks weak. If Smyth didn't drive to the net, the second goal never would have happened. Wolski was again in the right place to make the play, but Smyth made it happen with hard work. It had nothing to do with strong puck movement, it had nothing to do with the D moving the puck forward. In fact Raycroft looked better moving the puck than our D-men did on the power play. Leopold and Liles are our puck movers, but for some reason they can't do it as of late.
The trade rumors seem to have slowed down. It was rumored that Liles was being offered to Ottawa, with the speculation being that Spezza was coming back the other way. I don't see that happening, especially with Mr. Kroenke tightening up his belt. His money comes from Real Estate, the sector of the economy that kicked us into a recession. The economy will kill our trade desires, and Wolski may have ended that speculation if he keeps his play up.
I would expect a much quieter deadline due to the economics of the world, and even the Avalanche. A lot of teams may try to sell out of necessity, but won't be able to move much. I would expect there to be a lot of UFA's not renewed and cheap rookies moved up next season. Arnason would be a prime character for that. I would expect that we see a death to inflated contracts for the next couple of seasons. Hossa will not get as much as he would have last season. This deadline could easily be a preparation for two seasons from now when the revenues are down, and the cap is lowered. Youth movements may become even more prevalent.
I know this is a lot of doom and gloom, go check out Dater's blog. He talks about the personal effects that will happen to the Avs, not to mention other teams. Money is not moving at the moment, and it will take a long time for it to move the way that stimulates the global economy.