5 in a row
Posted 5:19 PM ET | Comments 0
Might as well keep the streak-in-the-title thing going.
Another slow start doomed the Avalanche last night. That's the obvious newspaper take anyways, and sure it's true to a point. 0-6 on the PP is bad news though. Especially with Sakic out, this team needs to simplify on the power play and utilize the ability of guys like Smyth and Tucker. Get the puck to the net (preferably by way of a Leopold one-timer) and fight for rebounds. Svatos is great around the net. Usually when things are going bad, simplification is the answer. Worth a shot anyway.
Again, like the Sharks game, all three goals were scored from within 5 feet of the net. You can bash Budaj all you like, but he's not responsible for any of those 3 goals. Sorry. I know the narrative in Avs-ville these days is how bad the goalies are, but more focus should be on the D. And yes the D-men but also defensive zone coverage in general is poor. Basic stuff like the weak side winger sloughing in towards the slot to help out in front in case the puck carrier steps out from the corner and the D-man in front of the net has to play the puck. Doesn't happen. Wingers sit on their point man and then say "not my fault" when a goal is scored from the high slot.
Yes, as McNab is quick to point out, the Avs played better in the last two periods. Hopefully they can build off that against a struggling Preds team.
Now to the Avs big picture. After checking a few different places, there are a few common themes in opinions on the Avs situation, and a couple of ridiculous ones. Let's cover the ridiculous ones first because they are just plain fun.
Ridiculous take #1 - that with Sakic out, Arnason should be getting 2nd line minutes. One would have to be a close relative to Tyler to come up with this one, it's the only way it makes any sense at all. Arnason is consistently inconsistent. Sometimes he looks like a 1st line center, and other times he looks like he's playing beer league. That is not someone you want on your 2nd line. Ask the Blackhawks. Those minutes should go to Hensick. This is the perfect opportunity for him right now, let's see what he can do with it. Hensick is the one that has a future with this club, not Arnason. Hensick is the one that has upside, not Arnason. Hensick is the one that will improve with more NHL minutes, not Arnason. Tyler is what he is at this point, more minutes won't help his game. I hope he enjoys Thanksgiving at the Chopper house.
Ridiculous take #2 - Granato should be fired. This one has a few more supporters, but it's just as stupid. 13 games? Really? Only if you want to be the butt of jokes. Sorry, it's just not enough of a sample size. It's not like he pulled down his pants during intermission or anything. It is, however, entirely fair to criticize him for the slow starts the Avs have had several times now, as it is fair to criticize line combos and PP/PK systems and personnel (as I thoroughly enjoy). But don't call for his head after 13 games and expect to be taken seriously.
Ridiculous take #3 - Blow up this team. Oh yeah, the "tankers" have reappeared in full force. Now to be clear, it may be entirely correct that in order for the Avs to win a cup that they will have to do a full-on rebuild. But I guarantee you that none of the rubes agitating for that right now know that. Why? See above. Because it's 13 games in to the season people. Now if the Avs are sitting in 12th place come February, my tune will change. Hell, if they are under .500 on January 1st my tune might change. But not 13 games in.
RT #4 - Trades are on their way. No they are not. What in FG's tenure would make you believe that he is on the verge of making some blockbuster deal to save the season/team/franchise/city (depending on how hysterical you are)? And what do the Avs have that they would be willing to part with that would fetch anything substantial in return? Read that sentence again carefully. I like speculating on trades. It's fun. It's part of the allure of Hockeybuzz in general. But I don't see it for this team. If you see something that I'm missing, please put something in the comments.
Some of the not-so-ridiculous common opinions are that the goaltending is sub-par, the team doesn't look ready to play, Sakic is getting old, and the defense is playing poorly. All of those things are true. And all seem to contribute in some combination to each and every Avs loss (the Sakic part only in the sense that he's out of the lineup right now). So what to do?
I still say let the goaltending situation play out until Christmas. If this team is playing well other than the goaltending, then address it at that time. Granato needs to get these guys ready to play every night. If this continues to happen, then yes, I could see hiim getting fired at the end of the year. Firing him before that accomplishes nothing. If this team does end up as a seller at the deadline, then fine, that's the time to trade the high priced veterans, stock up on prospects and draft picks, and really rebuild. Otherwise, it's full speed ahead, and hopefully this time will be looked back on as a speed bump.
A side note on Tucker's shenanigans - if he did indeed threaten to take out Schultz's knees and then tried to do it (as it appeared he did) then he should be suspended and fined, probably for quite awhile. It should be fairly easy to substantiate; the refs were right there during the fight when Tucker allegedly made the threat. See ya. And then bring back David Jones.
PPS - Man Cumiskey is fast. Fun to see him in the lineup although he still needs work on his positioning. And what, did Tjarnqvist get hurt in practice? Weak.