In the battle of two struggling teams, the Avs did just enough to win. That's about all that fans can realistically hope for right now considering the current injury list. Still a shot total that was far too low, although the Avs did manage some pressure at times in the second period. Raycroft had a very good game although he did have another scare with his glove hand - this time the puck luckily banged off the crossbar after tipping his mitt. Granted, the Preds did not apply much pressure outside of the first half of the first period, but Raycroft got the job done and was helped by a nice defensive performance sans Adam Foote.
The biggest story of this game is Wolski's two goal showing centering the top line. I only wish they had made this move sooner. Wolski just looks much more into the game at center, whereas playing wing he was guilty of standing around and watching at times. Although I envisioned Wolski as the setup man and Hejduk as the finisher, it looked just as good the other way around last night.
The other positive for the Avs last night was that they were perfect killing three penalties. The Avs got the better of special teams and goaltending, and they won. And Tootoo predictably declined to fight McLeod once again. I am not too broken up about being done with that clown and the rest of this boring team.
The Avs get back on track with two points, stay above .500, and win the season series with Smashville 3-1. So where do they go from here? And I don't mean the home game coming up against the high powered Hawks on Thursday. I mean, what's the plan for this team going forward?
I think it will be very difficult for the Avs to heed the calls to rebuild this year unless there is a major implosion between now and the trade deadine. And although I consder myself an optimist, I don't see this team, without its top two centers, making a huge push forward in the standings. The most likely scenario is that this team will be 3 or 4 points out of the last playoff spot at the time of the deadline. Perhaps it would make more sense from a long term perspective to move assets and try to get a lottery pick. But I guarantee you that won't happen. With Stastny due to return in mid-February and Sakic's return set for late March - if this team is within striking distance of a playoff spot come deadline time, FG will not sell. And neither will he buy because he will see Stastny and Sakic as his "deadline acquisitions". Which is fine; I don't want the Avs to move young players, prospects, or picks this year, and I don't think they will. Unfortunately for fans, this probably equals a very boring trade deadline. In fact, if Clark is not dealt by the end of January, I don't think he will be dealt at all. And that is the only move that made any kind of sense for this team this season. If this team is close to a playoff spot, FG won't want to send the signal that he's giving up on this season by trading Clark for picks or prospects at the deadline.
This organization is clinging to the dream by its fingernails right now. Unless there is a miracle or a disaster, the Avs will be in the same spot at the deadline, and at the end of the season, whenever that comes.