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.