Saturday, December 31, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Anaheim Ducks, 12/31/11

The Good Guys: Are a little less "good" than they were two days ago at this time. Matt Duchene's knee injury, suffered on Thursday night against Phoenix, will keep him out of action for at least a month. Winger David Jones is expected to be back in the lineup sooner rather than later, but the loss of Duchene for a wicked January stretch that sees the Avs on the road for 12 of 15 games will put this young team to the test.

Bunch of Dicks: the Anaheim Ducks started the 2011-12 season by winning 4 of their first 5 games. Since then, the Ducks have gone on a wretched 6-19-6 stretch that saw Stanley Cup winning head coach Randy Carlyle lose his job. In his place, the Ducks hired jolly fat fuck Bruce Boudreau, who hasn't fared much better than his predecessor. A lack of depth beyond the Ducks' killer top 4 forwards, in tandem with the failures of Lubomir Visnovsky (NHL Second Team Allstar) and Jonas Hiller (Allstar Game participant) to duplicate their outstanding 2010-11 campaigns has conspired to leave Ducks fans in a FOWL mood, and has left fans and media members alike to make really bad foul/fowl jokes.

We Like: The recent resilience shown by the Avalanche. After showing themselves to be an extremely fragile team during their midseason collapse a year ago, and at times early in this season, the Avs have faced down adversity in the form of injuries to top 6 forwards Peter Mueller and David Jones. In addition, this is a team that seems to have recaptured some of the magic and enthusiasm of their 2009-10 playoff season behind veteran goalie JS Giguere, who will start tonight in his first trip back to Anaheim since he was traded from there to Toronto in 2010... Semyon Varlamov had another one of "those games" on Thursday against Phoenix where he's shown the flashes of brilliance expected of him.... TJ Galiardi has continued to be the grinding, agitating force he needs to be when he's at his best... Seeing old friend Shjon Podein on the ice (and scoring one of his patented greasy goals) during the Flyers/Rangers alumni game today.

We Don't Like: The idea of a team that's already sorely lacking in scoring depth lose it's most electrifying player during a key stretch of the season. Who's going to step up?... The idea that Teemu Selanne will end his illustrious career on this struggling Ducks team. Forget Winnipeg; wouldn't he look really good in a Bruins, Penguins, Blackhawks, or Sharks jersey heading into the playoffs? How about another chance in burgundy and blue, if the Avs are still in the playoff race at the deadline?

Randomly: Do you think Bobby Clarke's hockey pads smell like a colostomy bag?

Tonight's Hero: goalie JS Giguere makes a triumphant return to the city that saw him raise a Conn Smythe trophy and a Stanley Cup with a sparkling performance.

Tonight's Goat: It pains me to say it, because he's one of my favorite players to watch, but Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has been playing a remarkably inconsistent game as his team has struggled. Watch for a matchup against Erik Johnson and Giguere to provide Getzlaf with another frustrating night.

Final Thought: Seriously, what genius thought this was a good idea?

Avs 4, Ducks 1

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Winnipeg Jets, 12/27/11

The Good Guys: ...have been good. REAL good. 5-wins-in-a-row good. What does it all mean? It's still too early in the season, and 40+ more games is alot, but there aren't too many Avs fans that have found fault with their favorite team lately.

Unless they lose tonight. Let's think positively though.

Bunch Of Dicks Jets: Just can't bring myself to call the Jets a bunch of dicks, at least not yet. Ask me again in about 4 hours, but for now, I'm just happy to have been able to look forward to playing the Winnipeg Jets again. The Jets have been a sneaky opponent, one from which not much has been expected, but have jumped up and bitten better teams a few times this season. Alex Burmistrov is fun to watch. Happy to have you back, Winnipeg.

We Like: Actually, "like" isn't strong enough, we LOVE this song from a band called "Les Dale Hawerchuk"...and the song is CALLED Dale Hawerchuk. Of course.

We Don't Like: Nope. This is an uplifting, hater-free Gameday Primer, in honor of the Jets' return. Besides, if the Avs blow this game, we'll have plenty of hate to spread later on.

Randomly: When somebody can't hear you, they point at their ear and make the "can't hear you" face, instead of saying "Hey, I can't hear you", as if I'M the one who can't hear. What is that?

Tonight's Hero: A lazy pick, because when hasn't he been heroic this season? But Ryan O'Reilly does so many little things right, and players like that make the difference on the second night of back-to-back games.

Tonight's Goat: Hater-free, so no goats tonight. Let's give it to former Jets owner Barry Shenkarow. While the demise of the original Jets isn't entirely on his head, they left on his watch, and that's goat-ish enough for tonight.

Final Thought: Hey Winnipeg, bring back Queen Victoria's portrait in the arena, for god's sake. I understand not bringing back the original logo and uniform, but GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

Avs 3, Jets 1

Monday, December 26, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota Wild, 12/26/11

The Good Guys: "Don't look now", but your Colorado Avalanche have reeled off four wins in a row, and have given themselves a chance to be in the playoff discussion as the new year rolls around. The up-and-down nature of this season thus far isn't going to keep the "yeah, but..." whispers at bay, but if the young team can keep gaining confidence, they could be a wild card in the playoff race during the second half of the season.

Bunch Of Dicks: the Minnesota Wild have to be considered the surprise team of the NHL this season, riding an inexplicable hot streak to the top of the Western Conference, in the face of any metric whatsoever that could explain it. The Wild lack compelling players, any discernable talent on the blueline, and certainly trustworthy designated drivers. They have received better-than-expected contributions from guys like Kyle Brodziak and Clayton Stoner, but the skeptics will tell you they dont expect that to be enough to sustain the Wild through the midseason grind. The Wild have shown cracks lately, as they've gone on a three-game skid. How will they respond to their first adversity of the season?

We Like: JS Giguere,'s third star of the week...hey, looky at what the Avs have: a #1 defenseman. Can Erik Johnson keep it up? Something seems to have clicked for him in the past month. Can we say it's coincided with the arrival of Stefan Elliott?... Ron Wilson and Brian Burke relentlessly trolling the self-important Toronto media... Another guy who is at his best when he's not down on himself, Matt Duchene, had his best game in weeks against Tampa on Friday... Not hearing too much about Joe Sacco's job security lately. Tune in, as that could change by the end of the night.

We Don't Like: Eric Duhatschek's knee-jerk characterization of Semyon Varlamov's performance thus far. I'd wager Duhatschek has seen Varlamov play three times, maximum, this season. Context is key, and while Varlamov's performance has been admittedly spotty thus far, "unmitigated disaster" is a bit overdramatic... Two days with no NHL games for the Christmas break? Good for the players and organizations, not so much for the fans. The NFL and NBA have a presence on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, why doesn't the NHL? On second thought, I wouldn't want to spend the holidays on the road either... Playing Minnesota, ever. I don't care that Jacques Lemaire isn't the coach anymore, I don't care that the Wild don't play that strict trap system they became known for, I don't care that they brought in "name" players like Devin Setoguchi and f---in' all-stars like Dany Heatley, they just are flat out boring to watch. I respect and like their fans, but I respect them even more for pretending they enjoy what they're watching from the home team.

Randomly: "Quaaludes" is the only word in the English language that contains the string "q-u-a-a". The only reason I thought of that? You bet, WE'RE PLAYING MINNESOTA.

Tonight's Hero: Gut feeling: Semyon Varlamov makes a few big saves to ward off a late flurry.

Tonight's Goat: being that Kerry Fraser has retired, we don't have to worry about the Avs getting whistled for a penalty 30 seconds after every goal they score against Minnesota; that said, with everybody still a little sluggish from the brief holiday layoff, I could see a bad call or two turning the tide of the game one way or the other. Let's hope it's in the right direction.

Final Thought: the season Minnesota has been having thus far reminds me a little of the Avs season last year. The wheels fell off for Colorado right around this time last season; hopefully the Avs brought their socket wrenches to, ahem, loosen those nuts a little more today.

Avs 3, Wild 2

Saturday, December 17, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Washington Capitals, 12/17/11

The Good Guys: ...were good for 40 minutes on Thursday night. In fact, they were REALLY good for 40 minutes, outplaying the San Jose Sharks in their own building, en route to a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. Then, the lack of experience showed up in the third period, the Sharks turned the game around on the Avs, and escaped with a 5-4 win. Still, the team showed flashes of what they could become.

Tonight's Dicks: The Washington Capitals. Hmm, haven't heard too much about them this season. Wonder how they're doing? I'm sure Alex Ovechkin has about 30 goals by now, and I'm sure that after dumping that nobody goaltender on July 1st (what was his name again?) for a SUREFIRE #1 overall draft pick and following that up by signing Tomas Vokoun (lifetime playoff record: 3-8), the Caps are humming right along toward another Stanley Cup championship. Wait, what?

We Like: Again, not to put too fine a point on it: the Avs performance through 40 minutes on Thursday night wasnt just good, it was outstanding. After an early hiccup, Semyon Varlamov was very good, and Erik Johnson had what was perhaps his best game as an Av. Paul Stastny accounted for two of the goals, and looked more comfortable and involved than he has yet this season. We also like: Phoenix's end of today's trade of Kyle Turris to Ottawa for David Rundblad and a 2nd round pick; seeing Dale Hunter back in the NHL. Hunter was my first "hockey hero" as a child, when he was a Nordique.

We Don't Like: Another head injury for the Flyers, this time to rookie Sean Couturier; Los Angeles' impending hire of Darryl Sutter (another genius move from the most overrated GM in hockey, Dean Lombardi); Washington's chances of winning anything of significance with their current core.

Randomly: there's a liquor store located right next to the hockey shop where I get my skates sharpened. My skates are never dull.

Tonight's Hero: goalie JS Giguere, who has not gotten nearly enough credit for how good he's been this season.

Tonight's Goat: the Caps power play

Final Thought: Matt Hendricks is going to score at least two goals tonight. I have no doubt in my mind about this. I'd bet my next two paychecks on it. Colorado fares well against teams that like to play a more uptempo style, so I won't be shocked to see guys like Matt Duchene and David Jones have multi-goal games too.

Avs 5, Caps 3

Thursday, December 15, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: San Jose Sharks, 12/15/11

The Good Guys: The Avs took a 4-3 decision over the Sharks on Tuesday, the capper coming on a Gabriel Landeskog shootout tally. A late goal by the Sharks (due in part to dreadful plays by both Ryan O'Byrne and Jay McClement...and why are those two out there in the last minute of a one goal game, anyway?) left some with a bad taste in their mouth about the game, but the Avs went into the third period facing a 2-1 deficit. Beggars can't be choosers. Good win for the Burgundy and Blue.

Tonight's Dicks: San Jose comes into tonight's tilt only having won 3 of their past 10, which naturally prompted whispers that Todd McLellan and his salt-and-pepper hair structure may be on the hot seat. This is silly, of course, as the ebb-and-flow of an 82 game season allows for the occasional dry spell. Consider: the currently streaking Bruins went on a similar 3-of-10 streak early in the season, and they pulled through it swimmingly. The Sharks are a good team who usually find a way to beat the Avs...but the Avs also seem to play the Sharks tougher than they play most other teams.

We Like: Gabriel Landeskog's knack for stripping pucks on the poke-check near the blueline; Ilya Bryzgalov, who may be Gozer's long-lost third minion (Keymaster, Gatekeeper, Netminder?); Erik Johnson's game since he returned from his groin injury (intelligent, aggressive); this hat; Sidney Crosby's self-discipline in the face of what must be extraordinary frustration; TJ Galiardi's December; Rob Blake, still (Mueller hit nonwithstanding); watching Patrick Kane.

We Don't Like: Concussions (the "fix" is to allow LIMITED obstruction, and mandatory softer padding); ass-backwards Pat Hickey, and I won't dignify him by linking to his disgusting column; waiting for Joe Pavelski to tear out our still-beating hearts at some point in the 3rd period tonight; Ryan O'Byrne being entrusted to do anything more challenging than keeping a seat in the press box from floating away; the fact that I remember the Avs haven't beaten Calgary this season within a half hour of waking up every single day.

Randomly: Au Bon Pain puts NUTMEG in their macaroni and cheese. I forget the term they use to play that fact up on the menu. Nutmeg is the most underrated ingredient in good egg nog.

Tonight's Hero: a well-overdue Paul Stastny

Tonight's Goat: Shane O'Brien would like to remind you he takes really stupid penalties at really bad times. He will choose tonight to do so.

Final Thought: Not sure if there's a "frequent" playoff opponent of the Avs that I respect more than the Sharks. The two teams have split four meetings in the playoffs, but the Sharks have never been a particularly detestable bunch, like the crybabies in Vancouver, the pricks in Dallas, and Detoilet.

Sharks 4, Avs 2

Friday, December 9, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Oilers, 12/9/10

Team Preview: Avalanche vs Oilers, 7pm MST

Leading Scorers:
Avalanche (O'Reilly, 6g 15a, 21pts)
Oilers (Del Greco, 14-19 FG, 13-13 xp, 55pts)

Players to Watch
Avalanche: explosive forward Matt Duchene, a tough player to contain in tight quarters. Can turn a routine looking play into highlight-reel material.
Oilers: explosive RB Alonzo Highsmith, a tough player to contain in tight quarters. Can turn a routine looking play into highlight-reel material.

Coaching Matchup
Avalanche: head coach Joe Sacco, whose claim to fame is a series of questionably hopeless decisions, such as playing hapless defenseman Matt Hunwick at forward.
Oilers: head coach Jerry Glanville, whose claim to fame is a series of questionably hopeless decisions, such as leaving game tickets at the ticket window for deceased rock legend Elvis Presley.

Suggestions For Each Slumping Team
Avalanche: trade hapless defenseman Matt Hunwick for deceased rock legend Elvis Presley.
Oilers: waive Hunwick immediately.

Bold Predictions For Each Team
Avalanche: defenseman Erik Johnson, yet to score a goal this season, will parlay his recent good play into his first two goals of the season tonight.
Oilers: quarterback Warren Moon will take advantage of an inexperienced Avalanche defense for a 400+ yard performance.

And The Winner Will Be...
The Oilers home field advantage will be too much for the young Avs to overcome, given their lack of experience playing on Astroturf. Oilers win on a late Del Greco field goal, 5-4.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Vancouver Canucks, 12/6/11

The Good Guys: Colorado beat Detroit 4-2 on Sunday behind Ryan "Radar Love" O'Reilly's two goals. Possessive forms of names that already have an apostrophe in them look dumb. Avs record stands at 13-13-1, 27 points. THREE game winning streak, AH AH AH.

Tonight's Dicks Du'Jour: Vancouver, defending Western Conference champions, still populated by assclowns and ne'er-do-wells. Maxime Lapierre somehow makes Alex Burrows seem like a decent human being. The Canucks are 15-10-1, good for 31 points.

We Like: Seeing Reboundo Luongo starting in goal for Vancouver tonight; Radar Love finding another gear to his game; actual structure and discipline on the power play lately; Semyon Varlamov making big stops early in games, exempting the Avs from the Budaj Effect; keeping the fading Flames in the same division under realignment for future payback beatings; watching Caps fans beginning to squirm about their goaltending.

We Don't Like: the inevitable Sedin-to-Sedin-to-Burrows power play goal tonight; having to wait for Alain Vigneault to start wearing the ascot we all know he DESPERATELY wants to wear during games; "conferences"; watching Ryan O'Byrne trying to keep up with skilled teams in the defensive zone; the fact that Johan Franzen has blown out his knee against every single team in the NHL except the Avs.

Randomly: Alex Ovechkin should tell the world he's not on PEDs, that he's on Minute Maid. It almost worked for Daniel LaRusso.

Tonight's Hero: Matt Duchene

Tonight's Goat: Luonnnnnnnnnngggggggggooooooooooo

Final Thought: Three games against western Canadian rivals coming up; gotta win 2, would love to win 3. Strong effort against a struggling goalie will be a good start.

Avs 4, Canucks 3

Sunday, December 4, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY SPECIAL: The Poison Pen on Dispelling the Detroit Draft Myth

One of our ongoing themes here at Bad Altitude Hockey is our insistence that more casual/novice NHL fans have been sold a bill of goods by the league about the infallibility of the modern-day Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway. Watch a TV broadcast of an AmWings game, look anywhere on the internet, and it's nonstop glowing stories about Nick Lidstrom (deserved, grudgingly), Mike "Hi Ho" Babcock (not so much), and others associated with Detroit hockey (seriously, the "Chris Osgood for the Hall of Fame arguments were an insult to any fan even semi-familiar with the NHL for the past 15 years). Earlier this season, we re-familiarized ourselves with some of the shady history between the Avs and Wings, and some of the more loathesome among the current cast of characters in Detroit. Today, we focus on the mindless mythology surrounding Detroit's drafting capabilities. In particular, we'll examine the widely-held notion that Detroit's late-round picks have been a consistent, recurring boon to their current roster and system.

First off, let's get this out of the way right off the bat: yes, Detroit drafted Pavel Datsyuk in the 6th round of the '98 draft, 171st overall. Detroit followed that up in 1999 by picking Henrik Zetterberg in the 7th round with the 210th overall pick. These were two generational low-round draft picks, two guys that put an aging Wings core on their back to keep the team respectable as the Yzermans and Shanahans faded away and left, and then combined with the holdover Lidstrom to take a solid team with questionable goaltending to a Stanley Cup in 2008. Credit where it's due. Certainly, by any standard, finding two arguable, borderline Hall Of Famers in the 6th and 7th rounds in consecutive seasons is remarkable; so remarkable, in fact, that we are willing to ignore the duds the AmWings picked BEFORE those players in their draft years. Illustrious names such as Ryan Barnes and Tomek Valtonen (both 2nd rd, 1998), Brent Hobday (4th rd, 1998), Jari Tolsa (4th rd, 1999) and Andrei Maximenko (5th rd, 1999) dot those draft lists. Certainly, AmWings apologists will howl "WELL, 28 OTHER TEAMS PASSED THOSE GUYS UP, WE KNEW NOBODY ELSE IS AS SMART AS WE ARE, SO WE COULD AFFORD TO LET DATSYUK AND ZETTERBERG FALL!", and that's because AmWings fans are insufferable, arrogant simps. The thought process to truly believe that the Wings just KNEW those two players would fall into their laps that late in their draft years takes an almost unbelievable stretch in logic.  Undoubtedly, their scouting department did their due diligence on the two players, but to insist that they were anything more than just late-round flyers that panned out famously is simply obtuse. In fact, to completely buy into the argument that Detroit knew what they were doing because they're smarter than everyone else in the room would lead one to believe that the Wings would have drafted EVERY late-round "steal" in subsequent seasons. To that end, let's start in draft year 2000, and work our way up through the first post-lockout draft, 2005, and see how our delicate genius friends in "Hockeytown" did in the late rounds (6th and beyond).

2000 late-round "steals": Henrik Lundqvist (G, round 7, 205th overall, NYR); Matthew Lombardi (C, round 7, 215th overall, Edm); Paul Gaustad (C, round 7, 220 overall, Buf); Antti Miettinen (LW, round 7, 224th overall, Dal)
2000 late-round Detroit picks: Par Backer (C, round 6, 187th overall); Paul Ballantyne (D, round 6, 196th overall)

2001 late-round "steals": Dennis Seidenberg (D, round 6, 172nd overall, Phi); Ryane Clowe (LW, round 6, 175th overall, SJ); Marek Zidlicky (D, round 6, 176th overall, NYR); Jussi Jokinen (LW, round 6, 192nd overall, Dal); Brooks Laich (C, round 6, 193rd overall, Ott); Johnny Oduya (D, round 7, 221st overall, Wsh); Marek Svatos (RW, round 7, 227th overall, Col); Milan Jurcina (D, round 8, 241st overall, Bos)
2001 late-round Detroit picks: Nick Pannoni (G, round 6, 195th overall); Dmitry Bykov (D, round 8, 258th overall)

2002 late-round "steals": Ian White (D, round 6, 191st overall, Tor); Maxime Talbot (C, round 8, 234th overall, Pit)*; Dennis Wideman (D, round 8, 241st overall, Buf)
2002 late-round Detroit picks: Jimmy Cuddihy (C, round 6, 197th overall); Derek Meech (D, round 7, 229th overall); Pierre-Olivier Beaulieu (D, round 8, 260th overall); Christian Soderstrom (D, round 9, 262nd overall); Jonathan Ericsson (D, round 9, 291st overall)
* - denotes player(s) that singlehandedly outscored Detroit in game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final

2003 late-round "steals": Joe Pavelski (C, round 7, 205th overall, SJ); Tobias Enstrom (D, round 8, 239th overall, Atl); Dustin Byfuglien (D, round 8, 245th overall, Chi); Shane O'Brien (D, round 8, 250th overall, Ana); Matt Moulson (LW, round 9, 253rd overall, Pit); Jaroslav Halak (G, round 9, 271st overall, Mtl); David Jones (RW, round 9, 288th overall, Col)
2003 late-round Detroit picks: Andreas Sundin (LW, round 6, 170th overall); Stefan Blom (D, round 6, 194th overall); Tomas Kollar (LW, round 7, 226th overall); Vladimir Kutny (LW, round 8, 258th overall); Mikael Johansson (C, round 9, 289th overall)

2004 late-round "steals": Roman Polak (D, round 6, 180th overall, StL); Troy Brouwer (LW, round 7, 214th overall, Chi); Chris Campoli (D, round 7, 227th overall, NYI); Pekka Rinne (G, round 8, 258th overall, Nsh); Mark Streit (D, round 9, 262nd overall, Mtl); Jannik Hansen (RW, round 9, 287th overall, Van)
2004 late-round Detroit picks: Anton Axelsson (LW, round 6, 192nd overall); Steve Covington (RW, round 7, 226th overall); Gennady Stolyarov (RW, round 8, 257th overall)

2005 late-round "steals": Matt D'Agostini (RW, round 6, 190th overall, Mtl); Sergei Kostitsyn (RW, round 7, 200th overall, Mtl); Patric Hornqvist (RW, round 7, 230th overall, Nsh)
2005 late-round Detroit picks: Juho Mielonen (D, round 6, 175th overall); Bretton Stamler (D, round 7, 214th overall)

Some things we can take away from this list:
  • Most teams are represented at least once, with several showing up two or more times
  • Detroit drafted exactly ONE player past the fifth round that is still with the team (Ericsson), and two fringe players that saw any time at all in the NHL (Bykov, Meech).
  • Interesting to note several players passed on by the "geniuses" in Detroit that have come back to haunt the Wings (Talbot, Pavelski, and Clowe, most notably).
Just remember this list the next time you hear some mindless talking-head shrilling at the draft about Ken Holland's late-round "gems", and bear in mind that if they're referring to anything that's happened in the past 13 years, they're just not paying attention.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: New Jersey Devils, 11/30/11

Know The Enemy: New Jersey Devils (12-9-1, 25 pts); lost 3-2 to the Islanders on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Criminally underrated Patrik Elias. He never gets the love that teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise do, but Elias has quietly led the Devils with 20 points in 22 games. He always reminded me of his countryman and friend Milan Hejduk, two players who, when retired, people will look at their stats and say "Wow, I never realized they were that productive."

Laugh At This Guy: Chubby dickhead Martin Brodeur, whose selfish insistence on playing 70-75 games per season to pad his lifetime statistics even as his body has broken down due to age has led to hilarious moments such as this:

You can't carry Patrick Roy's jock, pal.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Surprising rookie Adam Henrique, who leads the Devils in game-winning goals so far in 2011. Perhaps even more impressively, Henrique has managed to get away with having a jaunty letter like "Q" in his name under the watchfully tightassed ways of Lou Lamoriello.

Fact About The Devils That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane modeled psychotic infant Stewie Griffin after the Devils dour GM Lamoriello. See for yourself:

Celebrity Prediction: David Puddy, facepainter


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Vancouver Canucks, 11/23/11

Know The Enemy: Vancouver Canucks (10-9-1, 21 pts); beat Ottawa 2-1 in OT on Sunday.

Key On This Guy: If it has a Sedin on the back of it's jersey, kill it with fire. The creepy twins have tortured the NHL in tandem...IN THE REGULAR SEASON. Unfortunately, tonight is the regular season.

Laugh At This Guy: That would be the entire Canucks fanbase. Where Detroit fans are loathsome in a crazy uncle conspiracy-theorist sort of way, Canucks fans are united by their belligerence, undue sense of entitlement, and repeated failure. Watching Canucks fans building themselves up for glory and then falling victim to new and creative ways of blowing it all gives me the same sense of joyful deja vu I get seeing Charlie Brown lining up to kick the football, and watching Lucy yank it away. The only difference is, if Charlie Brown reacted to his inherent victimhood the way Canucks fans do, he'd beat Linus within an inch of his life and torch Snoopy's doghouse. I feel safe making fun of these farm animals, because they can't burn down or smash the windows out of my blog.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Danish dickhead Jannik Hansen, a product of a recent harvest from the Canucks' fertile Asshole Tree. Don't be fooled by his low profile; on any other team, Hansen would be seen as an agitating presence with a demonstrated ability to score timely goals. Hansen flys under the radar in Vancouver  because this Canucks squad is the 1927 Yankees of Jerkoff-itude.

Fact About The Canucks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Former Canucks bench boss Roger Neilson is given credit for "inventing" the waving of white towels in the playoffs after a tantrum thrown during a series with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1982. Not to be outdone, another former Canucks head coach, Marc Crawford, invented the "idiot coach jumps around barking and clapping like a seal" maneuver.

Celebrity Prediction: A Giant Ass

"Are you kidding me? Gotta go with my favorite team! Canucks 4, Avs 0!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: San Jose Sharks, 11/20/11

Know The Enemy: San Jose Sharks (11-5-1, 23 pts); beat Dallas 4-1 last night.

Key On This Guy: Avs-killer Joe Pavelski, who in the time it took me to write this sentence has scored two game winning goals and fucked Joe Sacco's wife. One year, I dressed as Joe Pavelski for Halloween. I looked terrifying.

Laugh At This Guy: Ye olde Ryane Clowe, a fine chap to have the pint of ale with before the derby. Seriously, jackoff, spell your goddam name right. PS: please don't kill anybody tonight.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sharks leader Bernardo, who is handy with a switchblade and is definitely NOT someone to trifle with. This fulfills my obligatory West Side Story reference, which means I don't have to do one for the Jets primer.

Fact About The Sharks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Sharks GM Doug Wilson had to overcome a major obstacle during his efforts to acquire star center Joe Thornton in late 2005: his inability to get the words "Wayne Primeau", "Marco Sturm", "Brad Stuart", and "THAT'S IT????" out of his mouth without having paralyzing fits of laughter.

Celebrity Prediction: Andy Samberg, host of Shark Week 2011

"Uh, I'm not Andy Samberg. Although I've played the same number of NHL games as him since January 6th. Try again."

"Really dude? Another lookalike joke? Didn't you JUST do one of these this week? Sharks 4, Avs 0."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota Wild, 11/17/11

Know The Enemy: Minnesota Wild (10-5-3, 23 pts); beat Columbus 4-2 on Tuesday.

Key On This Guy: Hmm. Let me think about this for a second. Marian Gaborik doesn't play for Minnesota anymore, right? Wow. Okay, lets think harder. Well, Dany Heatley plays there,'s not 2003 anymore. Sigh. Alright, let's look at the stat sheet to see who's the leading scorer...

...and it's Matt Cullen. Jesus Christ. Wild fans, really? Matt Cullen? Alright then, I guess Matt Cullen is the guy to key on.

Laugh At This Guy: Dickhead rodeo clown Cal Clutterbuck, widely renowned around the NHL as the biggest chickenshit in the entire league. Nobody had ever even heard of "Buttercup", mainly because he plays for a team with exactly 18,064 fans, until Don Cherry put him on blast on Coach's Corner:

Since then, Clutterbuck has been known by fans for two things: first, his comically inflated hit totals, thanks to the friendly hometown stat-keepers in Minny, and second, for being the only Wild player that anybody can name.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: ersatz sniper Dany Heatley, because if you DO fall asleep, by the time you wake up he'll already have been traded to another different team.

Fact About The Wild That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Minnesota's original ownership group chose "Wild" as the new club's nickname because they wanted one that was easy for Minnesota's fans to spell. They also considered "Minnesota Egg", "Minnesota Cow", "Minnesota Hurt", and "Minnesota Xyz".

Celebrity Prediction: Minnesota Wild fan Rip Van Winkle


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Pittsburgh Penguins, 11/15/11

Know The Enemy: Pittsburgh Penguins (10-4-3, 23 pts); lost 5-3 to Carolina on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Force of nature Evgeni Malkin. "Geno" is perhaps the total package, blending size, speed, good hands, and a command of the English language second only to Marlee Matlin.

Laugh At This Guy: Winger James Neal. No, seriously:

Winger...James Neal.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Pig-snouted pest Tyler Kennedy, who uses his physical tools to beat defensemen and stun goaltenders. By "physical tools", I mean "face".  Kennedy is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup tonight after being out of the lineup for the past month with a concussion. ONE MONTH. NOT ELEVEN MONTHS. ONE.

Fact About The Penguins That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is the winningest coach in NHL history whose last name starts with five consonants.

Celebrity Prediction: Satan

"I don't give a shit who wins, I still get Lemieux's soul. We had a deal, re: Crosby. Pens 5, Avs 1."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY SPECIAL: A Look Back At The Chris Drury Trade

The date: October 1st, 2002. It's about 5:30 PM, and I'm still at work, listening to the local sports radio station. The news jock is doing the half-hour update, the usual local dreck about the Steelers/Pitt football/Penn State football (aside: this is right around the time when...well, you know what), and then this little nugget slips in at the end:
"...and in NHL news, the Colorado Avalanche trade Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle to Calgary for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, and Jeff Shantz."

I must qualify that by saying I didn't hear about 70% of what he said, because my brain melted when I heard the words "trade" and "Chris Drury". I can safely assume the radio guy named the other four players, but I'm not sure, because at that point, a large gray fuzzy cloud had settled in my head, the kind that only comes when you get such unexpected and unwelcome news. One of my co-workers was observant enough to glance over at me, and I'm sure the look on my face is what caused him to say "Oh man...oh god, I'm so sorry." I can honestly say that it's one of the three worst moments of my sports fan life.

The only two men in the world more upset about this trade than I was.

I was born in 1977, and I grew up playing baseball, not hockey. I played from age 5 tee-ball all the way into high school, and at one point, baseball was my life. Thus, it's no surprise that I had heard of Chris Drury long before he became a star in the NHL. It was 1989, and a group of kids my own age from Trumbull, Connecticut had shocked the dominant entry from Taiwan in the Little League World Series. I don't need to re-hash the details, because it's been beaten into the ground since then that Chris Drury was the star of that team, and was the winning pitcher in that final game. Drury ended up turning to hockey after a wrist injury derailed his baseball plans, and in 1994 he was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques. This excited me to no end, as I saw a contemporary of mine, a kid I could personally identify with, drafted by my favorite team. Drury went on to star at Boston University, winning the 1998 Hobey Baker award. The 1998-99 season opened with Chris Drury making the Avs roster, a training camp survivor, and it closed with him winning the Calder Trophy. Drury was the first player to win the Hobey Baker award AND the Calder Trophy, and his exploits through his rookie NHL season bore out that this kid was the real deal. Another strong performance in the 1999-2000 season cemented Drury as a part of the Avs future, and the following year he became a Stanley Cup champion. In 2001-02, Drury became a regular alternate captain, and mentally, I had pencilled him in as the next captain whenever Joe Sakic decided to hang up the skates. He was tough, he was talented, he was clutch; in short, he was everything you wanted your next captain to be. When a big goal needed scoring, Avs fans knew Chris Drury was going to be on the ice and more often than not, coming through.

Then came October 1st of 2002. Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle to Calgary for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, and Jeff Shantz. Pierre Lacroix and his massive ego decided that the team needed a stud defenseman to fill the hole that Ray Bourque's retirement had left, despite already having two stars on the blueline in Rob Blake and Adam Foote, in tandem with the solid Greg deVries and young Martin Skoula (who we didn't completely realize at the time was a black hole of suck). Now in fairness, Derek Morris played extremely well for Colorado, scoring 11 goals and notching 48 points in that first season, and played a smart, physical game besides. I liked Derek Morris as an Av, and I always wished him well when he left. Dean McAmmond was a place-filler (despite a two goal, first star of the game effort in a game against Pittsburgh, which always earns brownie points with me) before being moved back to Calgary later in that same season. Jeff Shantz was the first Colorado Avalanche player that I actively disliked, and Clark Griswold articulates my feelings about Jeff Shantz better than I ever could. The loss of Stephane Yelle proved a tough one to overcome, as he went to Calgary and was a valuable, dependable checker and penalty-killer for several good Flames teams in the subsequent years. For me though, it keeps coming back to Chris Drury. Drury spent one unhappy season in Calgary before being traded again, this time to Buffalo, where he spent three productive years, leading the Sabres to a President's Trophy and consecutive Eastern Conference Final appearances. He signed a massive contract with the New York Rangers, his boyhood team, and spent the remaining years of his career being underappreciated by the typically-lunatic Rangers fans before retiring this past offseason, rather than trying to hang on elsewhere.

There have been many players that have come and gone from the Avs over the years since the trade. Legends like Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic retired after Hall Of Fame careers. Rob Blake left via free agency. Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg, despite eventually returning to the Avs, were forced elsewhere after the 2004-05 lockout, and were never quite the same players. All that being said, October 1st of 2002 was the beginning of the end for the mini-dynasty the Avs had created since moving from Quebec in 1995. With Drury, the team had gone to the conference finals four consecutive times, and won a Stanley Cup. Without him, the team hasn't been out of the second round since, and their record in the second round is 2-12. I keep thinking about all the blown chances and missed opportunities: games 6 and 7 against Minnesota in 2003, both overtime losses; a 1-0 Game 3 loss to the Sharks in 2004 that could have kept the Avs in that series, an overtime loss in Game 3 to the Ducks in 2006 under similar circumstances. Chris Drury lived for those situations, came through time and again for Colorado, and Pierre Lacroix threw it away chasing after something he ended up not getting anyway. After the trade, I remember the words of John Buccigross: "Chris Drury is a leader and a winner. You don't trade a leader and a winner." He couldn't have been more right.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: New York Islanders, 11/10/11

Know The Enemy: New York Islanders (4-6-2, 10 pts); lost to Boston 6-2 on Monday.

Key On This Guy: Up-and-coming John Tavares, the top overall pick in the 2009 entry draft, off to a hot start with 8 goals in the Isles' first 12 games. One of the youngest alternate captains in the league, Tavares has been doing an admirable job as a young leader, even managing to bond with Rick DiPietro despite the restraining order taken out by Garth Snow forcing the accident-prone DiPietro to stay at least 1000 feet away from Tavares at all times.

Laugh At This Guy: The unfortunately-named PA Parenteau, who has spent the better part of the last week having to explain it's "Parenteau", not "Paterno", and no, no relation, no seriously I dont even know the guy and GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FRONT YARD.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Disappointing Josh Bailey, at one time the top Islander prospect, who has one lousy assist in 12 games and therefore is the exact type of player that will drop a 2-1-3 +3 on the Avs tonight because thats just how it works and explains very well why my eyelid twitches all the time.

Fact About The Islanders That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The "final piece of the championship puzzle" for the Islanders dynasty teams of the early 80s was jack-of-all-trades Butch Goring, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, and known for wearing a helmet made out of blue peat moss. While Goring proved to be the player that got the Isles over the hump, GM Bill Torrey was forced to settle for Goring after trying to acquire players with tougher sounding names than "Butch Goring", including North Stars defenseman Jake Jackhammer, Blackhawks right wing Big Terry Rockfucker, and Winnipeg center Hammer "The Bulldog" 69man.

Celebrity Prediction: Islanders 1992 honorary captain, Ralph Macchio

"Think if Mr Miyagi and I switched places with Charles Wang and Rick DiPietro, anyone would notice? Islanders 3, Avs 2."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY SPECIAL: Poison Pen Presents a Hater's Guide To The Detroit AmWings

As a fan of a team involved in a lapsed rivalry, sometimes it's easy to forget why you ever hated your rival in the first place. Years pass, the names of the backs of the sweaters change, new rivals emerge. Some rivals, however, will always have a place in your black little heart; their words forever spoken with a forked tongue, their misdeeds numerous and appropriately grievous. I present to you, along with their spiffy new OFFICIAL SPONSOR, AMWAY, tonight's opponent, the Detroit Red Wings.

How did we get here?  Oh sure, everybody points to Kris Draper's facial reconstruction as the catalyst for the Avs/Wings bloody war of the late 90s. It dovetails nicely with the lazy "CLAUDE LEMIEUX IZ A CHEAPSHOT ARTIST!!!11!!1!!1!!!" narrative, doesn't it? That's why we don't remember the actual genesis of the bad blood: Slava Kozlov going all WWF turnbuckle with Adam Foote's head during game 3 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals.

Shocking video proof! This actually happened. Doesn't jive well with the official "Hockeytown" version of the story, does it? So, as any honorable man would do, Claude Lemieux went out and evened the score with a nice little how-do-you-do to Kozlov, perhaps to remind Kozlov that you don't do that to a teammate of CLAUDE FUCKING LEMIEUX. Oh, and then the Draper thing. Draper was ugly anyway.

March 26, 1997. Yeah, we remember that too. We remember all the mousy Detroit players playing with their tails tucked between their legs (plenty of extra space there that other men don't have, you'll note) during the matchups played in Denver prior to March 26th. Somehow, the mild-mannered, well-behaved Red Wings magically turned into...cheapshot artists? No, of course not. When the Red Wings do it, it's REVENGE, right? And revenge is what they got, as Darren "8-ball" McCarty suckerpunched Claude Lemieux from behind, Mike Vernon gashed Patrick Roy with a buckle from his goalie equipment, and Detroit scored a 6-5 overtime win on a McCarty goal. Wait, did you say McCarty scored the goal? What was he still doing in the game after being involved in a fight that featured him suckerpunching his opponent? What was he still doing in the game, indeed.

What's with the tinfoil hats?
Jokes circulate hockey blogs regarding Detroit fans and their built-in persecution complex. The commissioner is out to get them, TV analysts are out to get them, referees are out to get them, fans of other teams don't respect them.

What's outstanding is the fact that the Red Wings get more sloppy lubbins than any team in the NHL from the referees. For years, Detroit's patented "pick" plays have been allowed, regardless of the fact that "pick" plays are what 29 other teams get penalized for under the term "interference". It's a trend that began under legendary Detroit sourpuss "Cheapshot Scott" Bowman, who held sway over referees like no other coach in NHL history. Somewhat inexplicably, it's continued under the reign of Kermit The Frog soundalike Mike Babcock. In addition to these "pick" plays, can we think of anything else Detroit routinely gets away with that no other team in the league does? Hmm, let's think really hard here...

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to skate with a goalie growing out of my asshole?"

Why yes, it's our longtime friend, the least-talented player in the NHL, ratfaced little Tommy Holmstrom. The next time you see the Red Wings, make sure you pay attention to number 96. He's easy to find: he skates directly to the opposing goal and stands there like he's frozen in carbonite, just waiting for a puck to bounce off of him and past the impeded goaltender. Detroit fans, naturally, don't see it this way. Detroit fans see it as "Homer" doing his job. Just for shits n' gigs, ask a Detroit fan their opinion of Ryan Smyth or Corey Perry. Then, bottle that opinion and label it "Hypocrisy Concentrate". Listening to a Detroit fan bitching about the 5 or 6 times a year "Homer" DOES get nailed for goaltender interference is the same as listening to the rich kid bitching about having his Mercedes taken away for the weekend.

Speaking of rampant Detroit hypocrisy...

KRONWALLED! That's right, "Macho Man" Niklas Kronwall and his "legal" flying elbows/charges. Of course, Kronwall isn't unique. He's just following in the footsteps of another Detroit thug, Vladimir Karma-ntinov.

"Hockeytown! Mr Hockey played here, so this must be HOCKEYTOWN! Let's paint it in the middle of our ice so everybody knows this is a Town of Hockey! Paint it REAL BIG, in REAL BIG BLACK LETTERS, even paint it OVER TOP OF OUR LOGO! Make it REALLY REALLY NOTICEABLE to viewers at home, and maybe nobody will notice that 60% of the visible seats in the building are empty!"

I could keep going very easily. I could fill up 90 inches of valuable interwebs detailing my disdain for everything about this franchise, the organization, the players. But I won't. Don't need to. If you're an Avs fan and you're reading this, you probably have 50 things of your own that you loathe about this whining pack of hypocritical dogs. Every now and then, though, it's nice to reaffirm to ourselves that the disgust we developed over a simmering 6-8 years was not without merit.

And dare I say, fun? We'll see you on the other side of your impending rebuild, you bitches.

Friday, November 4, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Dallas Stars, 11/4/11

Know The Enemy: Dallas Stars (8-3-0, 16 pts); beat New Jersey 3-1 last Saturday (seriously, great job NHL schedule makers)

Key On This Guy: Leading scorer Jamie Benn, who is developing into a fine young player, and seems destined to be someone who, 30 years from now when you're reading the record books, you'll say "Wait, WHO was their leading scorer? Wow, really? What the fuck ever happened to that guy?" about.

Laugh At This Guy: Marc Anthony lookalike Mike Ribeiro, known pantywaist, and this will never not be funny. Bob McKenzie's comment is McCarver-ian in its insight.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sniper Loui Eriksson, a direct descendant of Leif Ericson, who is regarded as the first European to set foot in North America. Sabres fans reading this, replace "Leif Ericson" with "Brett Hull", replace "first European" with "Dallas Star", replace "North America" with "the goal crea..." know what, nevermind. Sorry Sabres fans*.

* - ed note: I'm not really sorry.

Fact About The Stars That May Or May Not Be Made Up: When Norm Green (SUCKS) moved the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas in 1993, his original intent was to rename the team the Dallas South Stars. When he found out that "South Stars" was the name of a seedy strip club in Dallas notorious for drug abuse, rape, and shady activity, he decided to rename the team the Dallas Cowboys. To his surprise, he discovered that "Cowboys" was also taken, by a football team in Dallas notorious for drug abuse, rape, and shady activity.

Celebrity Prediction: Bambi Woods, star of "Debbie Does Dallas"

"I see a tense, tight game, where offensive thrusts are countered slickly by filling gaps and pushing harder until one side penetrates the zone and slides it in the wide open cage harder and harder and and AND AND OMIGOD...AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH DALLAS WINS 4-1"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Phoenix Coyotes, 11/2/11

Know The Enemy: Phoenix Coyotes (5-3-2, 12 pts); beat Los Angeles 3-2 in OT on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Coyotes leading scorer Ray Whitney, who had scored goals in three consecutive games prior to Saturday's win over the Kings. The wizened Whitney has always struggled against the Kings, dating back to his unsuccessful attempts to overthrow Charlemagne.

Laugh At This Guy: Internet Enforcer Paul Bissonnette, prolific tweeter and alleged porn star wrecker. "Biz Nasty" has carved out an entertaining niche for himself, tweeting verbal blumpkins from the can, which he refers to as "twooping".

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Underrated Martin Hanzal, one of the most efficient defensive forwards in the NHL. Hanzal also has a developing offensive arsenal, and if he had played on a team that anybody actually paid attention to, would be compared favorably to Penguins pterodactyl-on-ice Jordan Staal.

Fact About The Coyotes That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Before placing their new arena in the suburb of Glendale, the former Coyotes ownership group led by Steve Ellman searched for a site located closer to and more convenient to downtown Phoenix. A list of these sites includes Las Cruces, New Mexico; the site of the former Koresh Compound in Waco, Texas; the inside of a dormant volcano in Oahu, Hawaii; and New Zealand.

Celebrity Prediction: Wile E. Coyote

Oops, sorry...that's his prediction for the fate of the franchise in Glendale.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

POISON PEN: Month In Review, October

Record In October: 7-4-0, 14 pts (Overall 7-4-0, 14 pts)

The Good: Colorado's third line was touted by no less a source than penis-shaped TV blowhard Regis "Pierre" McGuire as the best in the NHL. Daniel Winnik, Ryan O'Reilly, and rookie Gabriel Landeskog are a formidable threesome that have dominated the opposition in the offensive zone with strong cycling and intelligent spot-picking with their shots on goal. O'Reilly in particular has been impressive, winning nearly 61% of his faceoffs, many in key situations. A revamped defense and drastic upgrade in goal has paid dividends, as well. New goaltending tandem Not Peter Budaj and Not Brian Elliott have combined to provide an actual barrier between wide-eyed shooters and the gaping net that last season so often welcomed pucks like a pushover party host. In addition, defensive acquisition Jan Hejda has not been Matt Hunwick, which is a nice change of pace from Matt Hunwick, who WAS Matt Hunwick. Ryan Wilson leads the squad at a +7.

The Bad: The Avs play at home has been lacking, losing their first three games at Pepsi Center before finally getting their first W against Los Angeles on Sunday. Defenseman Erik Johnson has been an able quarterback on the power play, but has yet to register a goal, and has thrown up a dash 7 on the plus/minus while occasionally making questionable decisions with the puck. Fellow blueliner Shane O'Brien gets points for battling Oiler rat fink Andy Sutton for Sutton's elbow to the head of Gabriel Landeskog, but he's taken several cringe-worthy penalties. TJ Galiardi still has his own key to Joe Sacco's Chateau Bow-wow, and not undeservedly.

The Ugly: Jesus Christ do I hate to do this...but until Sunday's win over the Kings, Matt Duchene has been spinning his wheels. He's been all over the ice and involved, but hasn't been producing. In all fairness, he's been saddled with sketchy linemates, but Dutchy has also not been able to take advantage of the chances he has gotten. He's a slow starter, it seems, but for a kid who really seems to get down on himself when he struggles, it's important that he snap out of his funk sooner, rather than later.

Oh, and that opening night 3-0 shutout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway was also Presented By Baskin Robbins, as it sucked 31 flavors of balls.

October MVP: Tight one, as it's tempting to give this to rookie viking Landeskog or his running mate, Ryan O'Reilly, but October's co-MVPs are the goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere. I'm not a stats guy to begin with, and this is one instance where stats aren't as important as the eye test. This is a team that had no confidence in its goaltending last season, and you could see the entire squad sag after a weak goal against. This year is different, as the Avs seem to have much more trust in their goalie duo, and as a result have been able to play with more confidence and aggression, without having to worry constantly about the result of a rush going the other way ending up in the back of the net.

NHL Vittles: Take your time coming back, Sidney Crosby. Skip a few more games, maybe don't come back until after November 15th...Andy Sutton, expert piece of shit...Flyers captain Chris Pronger nearly lost an eye after an accidental high stick from Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski. Had it been against the Blackhawks, I would have expected Patrick Kane to skate over, pick up the eye, and throw it away after the game...Defending Stanley Cup champion Boston has struggled mightily out of the gate, only winning three of their first ten games. In all fairness, they lost the first 6 of those games because their lengthy opening night ceremony didn't end until October 19...Toronto sniper Phil Kessel started off the season with a bang, putting up 10 goals and 18 points in the first month. This is in sharp contrast with last year's All Star Draft, which Kessel almost ended with a bang until an alert Jonathan Toews wrestled the gun away from the embarrassed Leafs forward...the AmWings started out 5-0, but have now lost four straight after being ground into a fine paste by Washington to the tune of 7-1. I know they're old, but are they already spent after nine games? If there's a God...Welcome back, Winnipeg.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Los Angeles Kings, 10/30/11

Know The Enemy: Los Angeles Kings (6-2-2, 14 pts); lost to Phoenix in OT 3-2 last night.

Key On This Guy: Kings center Superman, who uses the powers granted to him by the Earth's yellow sun to dominate and torture the Avs game after game, year after year. I have long believed the Kings have an unfair advantage by having Superman on their team. Wait, that's NOT Superman? The guy wearing 11? "Anze Kopitar"? Yeah okay, maybe thats his EARTH name. Avs fans know better though.

Laugh At This Guy: Tubby underachiever Dustin Penner, who has bounced in and out of lineups in Anaheim, Edmonton, and now Los Angeles due to a questionable work ethic. Penner would counter that he runs every day and lifts five times a day. What he WON'T tell you is that the "running" is to Burger King, and the "lifting" refers to forkfuls of birthday cake. It's not always his birthday, but hey, SOMEBODY'S birthday is today, right?

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Rookie blueliner Slava Voynov, who has gotten his NHL career off to a red-hot start, justifying dunderhead Kings GM Dean Lombardi's decision to fuck with franchise defenseman Drew Doughty's head all summer over a lousy $200,000 a season. So GREAT WORK, DEAN.

Fact About The Kings That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Previously referenced idiot Kings GM Dean Lombardi has not finished tweaking his roster, after adding former Flyers captain Mike Richards and pursuing free agent pivot Brad Richards over the summer. Before the trade deadline, expect Lombardi to attempt to sign free agent hooker Denise Richards to shore up the team's shaky "lesbian kissing", which ranks 29th in the NHL.

Celebrity Prediction: 2006 NAACP "Man Of The Year" Recipient, actor Michael Richards

"How am I going to pick against the team that traded that colored fellow for my namesake? Kings 4, Avs 1...giddyup."

Friday, October 28, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Edmonton Oilers, 10/28/11

Know The Enemy: Edmonton Oilers (5-2-2, 12 pts); beat Washington 2-1 last night.

Key On This Guy: Sophomore studmuffin Taylor Hall leads a group of young Oiler talent up front that rivals the Avs youngsters. Despite being a talented hockey player, do not entrust him to help you figure out a tricky Twitter password.

Laugh At This Guy: Vagabond shitheap Ben Eager, who was the first NHL player to sample the menu of the vaunted "Gary Roberts Diet", which consisted of a series of left hands and crushing humiliation.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall's young running mate, who once played really well for Canada in a World Junior Championship. You can be forgiven if you didn't know that, as the musky cloud of mancrush the entire nation has on Eberle only extends down as far as remote areas of Montana and Detroit, where nobody lives.

Fact About The Oilers That May Or May Not Be Made Up: In an effort to make young stars Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins feel more "at home", the Oilers encouraged all their veteran players to take a hyphenated last name. Popular examples inclue Andy Sutton-Expert, Shawn Horcoff-Albatross, and in an especially impressive show of selflessness, Nikolai Khabibulin-Designated-Driver went with the double hyphen.

Celebrity Prediction: Lauren Pronger, wife of former Oiler Chris Pronger

"Where are they playing? Because if it's in Edmonton, both teams and all the fans will be lucky to survive, between the freezing temperatures and hungry wolves roaming the tundra, much less worry about a stupid hockey game. Can't they go play somewhere relatively nice in comparison, like Anywhere Else In The World?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Calgary Flames, 10/26/11

Know The Enemy: Calgary Flames (2-4-1, 5 pts); lost to Nashville 2-0 on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: By process of elimination, Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who is gonna look like a million bucks wearing a jersey of an actual contender sometime before the end of his illustrious career. Los Angeles, perhaps?

Laugh At This Guy: Windup-toy-on-ice Curtis Glencross, who would be an extremely effective NHL player if he didn't have a "Quaker Oats" logo tattooed on his forehead. If NHL players had to take the Wonderlic test, "GlenX" would be able to count his final score on one hand. That is, if he knew how to count.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Designated facepuncher Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, who might be a lousy NHL player, but his name gives me a boner. Projects to be a Baron or a Count once his NHL career is over.

Fact About The Flames That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The Flames play their home games in Calgary's "Saddledome", which was named in honor of its proximity to all the horse's asses that have played for the organization over the years.

Celebrity Prediction: Asshole Flames Fan Streaker From 2002

"Despite the fact that I cant BARE the thought of another Flames loss, the NAKED truth is with DANGLERS like Olli Jokinen, our Flames can't lose tonight! Final score Flames 4, Avala..."<slips on ice and is knocked cold>

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Chicago Blackhawks, 10/22/11

Know The Enemy: Chicago Blackhawks (4-1-1, 9 pts); beat Colorado 3-1 on Thursday.

Key On This Guy: Jonathan Toews, popularly known as "Captain Serious", and half of the two-man comedy team of "Captain Serious and Admiral Tickles". He'd drive a knife through your face to win a hockey game.

Laugh At This Guy: Ladies man Daniel "Daddyfingers" Carcillo, a guy I'd worry about if I had a daughter. Actually, I'd only have to worry about it if my daughter was into guys that look like Gaddafi's autopsy photo.

Dont Sleep On This Guy: Andrew Brunette, who has been the most confounding combination of hero and villain in Avalanche history. He's scored huge goals both for and against the good guys, so don't bet against the slow-footed "Bruno" to tap dance on Avs fans hearts tonight.

Fact About The Blackhawks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Former Blackhawks dimwit Jeremy Roenick, after famously being admonished by Avs goalie Patrick Roy during the 1996 playoffs, had to be convinced that jamming his high school class ring and his wife's engagement ring in his ears was not quite the same thing that Roy had referred to.

Celebrity Prediction: Peter Cetera, former lead singer of Chicago

"The final score for tonight's game will be either 25 or 6 to 4."

Monday, October 17, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Toronto Maple Leafs, 10/17/11

Know The Enemy: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-0, 6 pts); beat Calgary 3-2 on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Former Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles, who looks to join an illustrious group of former Avs defensemen who magically transform into Bobby Orr the first time they line up with the opposition.

Laugh At This Guy: Leafs captain and former Flames star Dion Phaneuf, who can ask Sean Avery to tape his sticks for him any time he goes into a scoring drought.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Former Avs forward Phillipe Dupuis, who may as well be Mario Lemieux tonight based on the Liles Corollary noted above.

Fact About The Maple Leafs That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Leafs GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson were teammates (and roommates) in the 1970s at Blowhard Arrogant Asshole That Nobody Likes University, a small college in Rhode Island.

Celebrity Guest: Bigoted, Cheap, Misogynistic Former Leafs Owner Harold Ballard

"Wait, Kessel is getting paid HOW much? <dies again>"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Montreal Canadiens, 10/15/11

Know The Enemy: Montreal Canadiens (1-2-0, 2 pts); lost to Calgary(!) 4-1 on Thursday.

Key On This Guy: Defenseman PK Subban, one of the most electrifying young players in the entire NHL. You know he's good, because every fanbase in the Eastern Conference hates his guts.

Laugh At This Guy: Grammatically-challenged center Tomas Plekanec, who has been playing an elaborate prank on fans and media alike by making us believe his last name is pronounced "Plekanits". It's actually pronounced "Nets-cash".

Don't Sleep On This Guy: winger Max Pacioretty has come back from being stanchion'd by Bruins' Gargoyle Zdeno Chara late last season to start the season with the Canadiens. Pacioretty has been one of the team's most consistent threats that is taller than 5'2".

Fact About The Canadiens That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The motto painted in the Habs' dressing room is the French "Nos bras meurtris vous tendent le flambeau, à vous toujours de le porter bien haut.". The literal English translation of this motto is "Thank GOD the Nordiques moved right before they got good, and in a show of gratitude, they can have Patrick Roy for a bag of magic beans."

Celebrity Prediction: Yee Sook Ree

"Truly a sight to behold. A franchise beaten. The once great champ, now, a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallions we've raced so many times before, but a pathetic, washed up, aged ex-champion. Former Nords 3, Montreal 2."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Ottawa Senators, 10/13/11

Know The Enemy: Ottawa Senators (1-2-0, 2 pts); beat Minnesota 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.

Key On This Guy: Second-year defenseman Erik Karlsson is a slick, puck-moving defenseman in the mold of his teammate, 37 year old Sergei Gonchar, whose skates and stick coincidentally seem to be covered in mold.

Laugh At This Guy: Forget laughing AT Jason Spezza. Let's laugh WITH him.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson, unlike teammate Gonchar, still has some gas left in the tank. Look for "Alfie" to be a difference-maker come playoff time on Sidney Crosby's wing in Pittsburgh.

Fact About The Senators That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Ottawa will debut their alternate "throwback" jerseys tonight: a black uniform featuring a blend of red and cream colored striping with an "O" logo featured on it. The "O" stands for "O MY GOD GONCHAR HAS 2 YEARS AND $10 MILLION LEFT ON HIS CONTRACT???"

Celebrity Prediction: Ambiguously Gay Ottawa Spartan Pre-game Guy