Saturday, January 7, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: St Louis Blues, 1/7/12

The Good Guys: Colorado has won 4 straight and 9 of their last 10 games, barging into the Western Conference playoff race. One week into a tough January schedule, the Avs have given their fans reason for tentative optimism, which is the only kind we've known for the past 6 years or so. Semyon Varlamov shut the door on the Chicago Blackhawks last night for his second shutout of the season (a 1-0 win over defending champion Boston was the first), and steady vet JS Giguere gets the call for the second half of the back-to-backs tonight, against the St Louis Blues.

Bunch Of Dicks: The Blues have been an odd team to observe this season. A mediocre 6-7 start got head coach Davis Payne gassed, and St Louis replaced him with B.F.A. Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock coached teams have always been a colossal pain in the ass for the Avs to deal with; my guess is due to Hitch cleaning out the pre-game buffet and leaving the Avs players hungry. Hard to play on an empty stomach. Am I still bitter for 1999 and 2000? MAYBE.

Either way, tonight's game is going to be a challenge, despite the Avs' recent success against the Blues. St Louis is one of the teams the Avs are trying to hang with for playoff positioning as the season goes along, and two points tonight certainly won't hurt the cause.

We Like: How about role players like David van der Gulik (who sounds like a specialty weed dealer in Amsterdam) and yes, Chuck Kobasew stepping up with goals in a big road game last night?... Another big time performance from the increasingly indispensable TJ Galiardi, who recorded his first GAF Trick (Goal, Assist, Fight...I'm not using the bogus name typically assigned to this feat) last night, battling Canucks fan David Bolland after a driveby hit on Paul Stastny. As Joe Sacco said about Galiardi postgame last night, "When he's skating, he's effective." Galiardi has been skating and playing with confidence for the past month, and it's no coincidence that the Avs have been a much better team in that time. Galiardi was effective during the team's 2009-10 run to the playoffs, and served as a major annoyance to the Sharks during the Avs' ultimately unsuccessful bid for a first round upset. When Galiardi plays with that type of jam, he creates room for his linemates, and he has the instincts and skill to make things happen offensively.

We Don't Like: Clenched b-holes, but thats what we have every time the Avs play against prominent former Avs like Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. When headed into a game against guys like this, it's always smart to budget at least one goal and two or three big plays into your expectations for the opponent... How many times will the producers of the broadcast treat us to Ken Hitchcock's best Gomez Addams look?

Randomly: There's a small, period-sized and shaped spot on my monitor, and I just spent 25 seconds of my life trying to figure out why the "delete" button couldn't remove it. Rubbed it off with my thumb. TWSS.

Tonight's Hero: Rookie Gabriel Landeskog has been quietly impressive, and will have had a notable game on the scoresheet by the end of the evening.

Tonight's Goat: Barrett Jackman sucks.

Final Thought: Absolutely love the Blues goal horn/song combo, which is the organist playing "When The Saints Go Marching In". Original, vintage, cool. That said, I wouldn't mind not hearing it tonight at all.

Avs 4, Blues 2

BONUS PREDICTION: Sorry, Denver sports fans...Steeler fan here. Steelers 17, Broncos 6

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