Monday, February 27, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Anaheim Ducks, 2/27/12

The Good Guys: Win over Detroit? IN Detroit? Me gusta. That's 3 in a row, and 4 of the last 5. Beating teams like Edmonton and Detroit, who are either comfortably out of the playoffs or comfortably in the playoffs, and beating teams like Los Angeles and Anaheim that are in direct competition with you for a playoff spot, are two entirely different stories. Tonight is a big one.

Bunch Of Dicks Ducks: Anaheim has won some ridiculous number of games since the New Year rolled around, they're something like 92-3. The fact that they're still scuffling in this 5 team dogpack for the final playoff spot says much about how bad the Ducks were at the beginning of the season. Despite the Ducks' recent streak, this is a team the Avs match up to well, and accordingly must take two points from.

We Like: The contributions from today's trade deadline departees, Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi. Winnik is a hard worker, a guy who busted his ass for the Avs every shift. He's going to be a valuable piece for the Sharks in the playoffs. Galiardi was maybe the most representative player of the Avs' Jeckyl-And-Hyde ways: sometimes he was invisible and completely uninvolved in the games, skating around the perimeter and fighting the puck. Other times, he was fully vested, and made a real difference on the ice, and nowhere was that more the case than the 2010 playoff series against San Jose, where Galiardi was a constant nuisance to the Sharks' skilled players. Colorado's hot December had much to do with an improved Galiardi, who gave the Avs snarl and skill for the entire month. The problem with Galiardi was his performance in January, which got him back in Joe Sacco's doghouse. Wishing both guys success with the Sharks.

We Don't Like: I'm not about to start complaining in the middle of a good streak. Keep up the good work, gentlemen.

Randomly: I'm guessing today's Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian trade is to even out the karma the Canucks took advantage of in obtaining Markus Naslund for Alek Stojanov 16 years ago? Because the similarities are uncanny. Kassian is a bag of meat. Buffalo wins that trade handily, in my opinion.

Potential Hero: Landeskog-O'Reilly-Downie is the best line in hockey right now, and is the pick for tonight's potential heroes. Does Sacco match these guys against the Ducks' big unit? I'd like to see it.

Potential Goat: Hey, we're all positivity tonight, right? NO GOATS.

Final Thought: Aw shit, Kevin Porter is gonna be in the lineup tonight, isn't he? (ed.: Sanity prevails, he will not play.) So much for positivity.

Ducks 3, Avs 2

Saturday, February 25, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway, 2/25/12

The Good Guys: Beat Columbus like a drum last night, 5-0. David Jones was the hero, with two goals, and Semyon Varlamov folded the Jackets neatly and put them away. Seeing Jones and Paul Stastny getting hot at the right time warms the cockles of my dark heart.

Bunch Of Dicks: Well, well, well...hello there, Detroit! We understand that you had your cute little home unbeaten streak* ended by the Canucks on Thursday, and that you're pretty unhappy with that. We're not very happy about it either, because we were hoping the Avs would be the ones to end it. You'll have to forgive us if we are rude guests tonight, because we're in the middle of a battle to get into the playoffs. We have a new friend. His name is Steve Downie, and he's paid to dislike you. He will be going around to properly introduce himself to each of your players at various points this evening.

We Like: Beating Detroit. So let's do it.

We Don't Like: Knowing that our team speed advantage will be neutralized by Detroit's *COUGHLEGALIZEDINTERFERENCECOUGH* "subtle pick plays" tonight, since Detroit are the Special Little Children and accordingly, are above the silly rules and regulations the rest of the NHL must play by.

Randomly: Evgeni Malkin is better than everybody else in the world at the hockey.

Potential Hero: JS Giguere is back in net for the Avs tonight. Rumors have linked Giguere to Philadelphia to partner with his old Anaheim running mate, Ilya Bryzgalov. I like Giguere alot, he's been fantastic for the Avs this season, and I wouldn't settle for anything less than James van Riemsdyk in return. If Philly isn't okay with that, then that's too bad. Watch for Giguere to be the difference tonight if the Avs are able to pick up two points.

Potential Goat: Tonight's potential goat is Whichever Av Fails To Stop Kyle Quincey From Scoring, which we all know by now is as safe a bet as there is for an Avs fan. Former Avs are superhuman, and if Joe Sacco doesnt assign someone to take Quincey out, John Kreese-style, then he should be fired immediately.

Final Thought: Has there ever been a more beloved bad hockey player than Tomas Holmstrom? Imagine if Detroit WAS forced to play by the same rules as the other 29 teams. Holmstrom would've been out of the league by 2001.

Red Wings 5, Avs 4

Friday, February 24, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Columbus Blue Jackets, 2/24/12

The Good Guys: Smacked the Kings around nice and hard on Wednesday, racing out to a 4-0 lead on their way to a 4-1 win. Paul Stastny led the way with two goals, and Semyon Varlamov shut the door on the anemic Kings, who barely even bothered to show up.

Bunch Of Dicks: Oh, Columbus. Where to begin? I'll begin by saying that I like the Blue Jackets. I visit Nationwide Arena usually once or twice a season to see a game, and every time I've been there I've had a good time in and around the arena. The fans are passionate, friendly, and knowledgeable, and they desperately want their team to give them something to be proud of. Eventually, they'll get there, but right now, the organization stinks like a pig in poo. It starts at the very top, with clueless executives lording above overmatched GM Scott Howson, who really hasn't done himself any favors. The Jeff Carter Experiment was a brutal failure, as the disappointed player never seemed to have his heart invested in his new team after being stabbed in the back by the Flyers. Howson bears a great deal of the blame for not contacting Carter's representatives to gauge his interest in playing in Columbus before dishing out substantial assets to bring Carter to Ohio. Nevermind the fact that the entire premise of the deal was flawed: a playmaking center for star wing Rick Nash is what the Jackets sought. Jeff Carter is a playmaker in the same sense that I am; that is, not at all. Carter spent an unhappy and injury-plagued 8 months as a member of the organization before being mercifully dealt to the aforementioned Kings late yesterday for Jack Johnson (who won't be in the lineup tonight) and a conditional first round draft pick (also not in tonight's lineup).

We Like: Perusing the Western Conference standings, most of the teams in the dogfight for the last available playoff spots have caught up to the Avs in games played, meaning Colorado's two point deficit to ne'er-do-wells Los Angeles, Dallas, and Calgary is more of a true deficit, and not disadvantaged by games at hand.

We Don't Like: Why can't Calgary just go die already? You know you're awful when your GM, tubby idiot Jay Feaster, goes on a public verbal rampage threatening to blow your team up when you're still within striking distance of a playoff spot. Make no mistake about it: the Flames are a terrible team. Have the decency to go on an 8 or 9 game losing streak, you clowns.

Randomly: Not sure when Dustin Brown became the second coming of Mark Messier, but the breathless news that Brown is available on the trading block was about as underwhelming as trade speculation gets. Yes, he's the captain of the Kings, but scratch the glossy surface and he's a poor man's Shane Doan. I respect the hell out of Shane Doan, don't get me wrong, but he's nothing more than an elite grinder. Adjust Brown downward accordingly.

Potential Hero: A safe bet is Gabriel Landeskog, who has been nothing short of outstanding lately. A less safe bet, but a sleeper: Stefan Elliott, if he's given the green light to use his speed to rush the puck against a very talent-poor Columbus group.

Potential Goat: Can Semyon Varlamov put together two consecutive solid performances? If this kid can get himself on a roll, the Avalanche can become a frisky team down the stretch, one I'm not sure I'd want to see in the first round of the playoffs.

Final Thought: Does Matt Duchene look 100% to you? Because he doesn't look 100% to me. The Avs need Duchene to get back up to that level sooner rather than later, but even with a sketchy Dutchy, tonight's game is very winnable. Right?

Blue Jackets 3, Avs 2

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Los Angeles Kings, 2/22/12

The Good Guys: The less said about Sunday's debacle against the Jets, the better; a veritable three hour infomercial about why this team isn't one of the eight best in the Western Conference. Semyon Varlamov needs to steal games for the Avs to sneak into the top 8, and he certainly wasn't up to the task on Sunday.

Bunch Of Dicks: Until last night's 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix (another 3 point game, tyvm), the Los Angeles Kings couldn't score with themselves during a Cinemax viewing party. On occasion this season, a visit to the thin air and occasionally lax defense of Denver has done wonders for slumping offenses.

We Like: The trade for Steve Downie. As I've been saying ad nauseum over the past 24 hours, he brings an element to the Avs that they have been missing since Ian Laperriere left town. Downie is an ideal third line player with some skill, and plenty of sandpaper. If you look up and down the Avs roster, you don't see very many players that make you think "this is going to be a long night for <name of opposing star player>." Downie is a player that forces you to account for him when he's out there due to his unpredictability and his physicality; he wins puck battles along the wall, and he can take shifts here and there with top 6 forwards as he did in Tampa. In a division where you see Cal Clutterbuck, Curtis Glencross, and Alex Burrows a total of 18 times a year, it's nice to know their teammates will also be forced to keep their heads on a swivel when they play the Avalanche.

We Don't Like: The subtle badmouthing of Kyle Quincey as he leaves town. Quincey is going to a situation in Detroit that plays to his strength: a solid 3/4 defenseman and likely a regular spot on their second power play unit. Quincey was miscast in Colorado as a top two defenseman. He showed flashes here and there, and was starting to find a groove partnered with Erik Johnson recently, but he is not an ideal top two on a good team. All the innuendo about how he was bad in the room, how the organization didn't appreciate his comments expressing frustration at not being in the lineup when he came back from his concussion earlier this season, all of this is needless piling-on at this point. Anybody that thinks Kyle Quincey didn't give his best every shift hasn't been paying attention. I want a guy who wants to be in the lineup every night, and Quincey very obviously did.

Randomly: Was the NHL36 episode featuring Mike Richards earlier tonight supposed to make him look good? Because it really didn't.

Potential Hero: I'm rooting for Semyon Varlamov to keep the Kings impotent tonight. When you face a team as offensively inept as Los Angeles, you absolutely MUST have your goaltender playing at his best. An early Kings goal could be disastrous.

Potential Goat: Kevin Porter. He works really hard. So do washing machines. Seeya in the AHL next year, Ports.

Final Thought: Chances are pretty good there are one or more Avs playing in their final home game as a member of the organization, with Monday's trade deadline looming. The Shermanator isn't a shrinking violet about these things; you'll recall we're only two years removed from Wojtek Wolski playing his way out of town in the very last game prior to the deadline with a brutal performance on national TV against the Red Wings. Which Avalanche player might float through tonight's game and get on Greg's bad side?

Kings 2, Avs 1

Sunday, February 19, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Winnipeg Jets, 2/19/12

The Good Guys: Handled Edmonton the way a playoff team should handle a draft lottery team on Friday, with a resounding 3-1 win. Erik Johnson scored for the third consecutive game, and Semyon Varlamov shut the door on the talented, but green, Oilers. Colorado stands tied for 11th in the Western Conference, 3 points out of the 8th and final playoff position. Two more points tonight isn't a luxury; it's a necessity.

Bunch Of Dicks: Winnipeg is still in that warm, fuzzy "Wow it's good to have the Jets back" zone for me. The Jets are in a similar spot as the Avs: two points out of the final playoff position in their conference. They're going to be playing a similarly desperate game tonight, one would imagine. If the Avs are going to take two, they're going to earn it.

We Like: Welcome back, Duchene.

We Don't Like: Hey look, a three-point game in Phoenix last night. Life on the playoff bubble sucks.

Randomly: "Buffalo! New Jersey! Minnesota! IT'S HOCKEY DAY IN AMERICA." NBC Sports programmers may be taking advice on which teams America will find interesting from saboteurs at ESPN.

Potential Hero: How could I go with anybody but Matt Duchene? He's nothing short of the best offensive weapon on the Avalanche, and a spate of one-goal losses during his absence did nothing but reinforce his value to the team.

Potential Goat: The biggest issue with Semyon Varlamov has been his inconsistency this season, which isn't terribly uncommon for a young goalie playing behind an iffy defense. Varlamov is going to need to steal games here and there over the next month and a half in order for the Avs to have a puncher's chance at a playoff spot, and he definitely can't afford to have any games where he implodes early with JS Giguere battling injury.

Final Thought: After today, the Avs bookend visits to Columbus and Detroit with home games against Los Angeles and Anaheim. 8 points out of 10 is the minimum, and you don't want to lose your margin for error in Winnipeg today.

Avs 5, Jets 4

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Vancouver Canucks, 2/15/12

The Good Guys: Were good enough to drag a point out of St. Louis on Saturday, falling 3-2 to the Blues in overtime. As every point is a big point, Saturday's was appropriately large, going into the building of a team who has only lost three times in regulation over the course of 31 home games. The Avs haven't played a game since Saturday, and in the interim, have seen western competitors like Calgary and Phoenix catch up to them in games played. One point tonight in Vancouver is necessary; two points would give the team a needed shot of adrenaline heading into a Friday tilt at Edmonton, when two extremely attainable points are there to be had.

Bunch Of Dicks: Vancouver leads the Northwest Division by a comfortable 14 point margin, and are only interesting during the regular season if you're looking for RAD Factor (Random Acts of Douchery). The Canucks don't become fun to watch until April and May, in the same sense that trains aren't exciting to watch until they're on a track that is built directly into a giant metal wall with "FAIL" flashing on it in enormous red letters.

We Like: Somewhat improbably, in what's been a magnificently uneven season, the Avalanche can pull within one point of a playoff spot with two points tonight. Of course, that's easier said than done.

We Don't Like: Colorado's record against their own division (Vancouver, Calgary, Larry, Moe, Curley, Shemp, and Dick Van Dyke's ottoman) is a putrid 2-12-1. For you liberal arts majors out there, that's 5 points out of a possible 30. If that number was even a marginally better 10 points out of 30, that would have the Avs knotted up with the Kings and Blackhawks for the 6th and 7th spots in the Western Conference. Given that the last 6 Avs losses have come by one goal...well, get well soon, Matt Duchene.

Randomly: National "Wear Your Hockey Jersey" day is Friday, kicking off Hockey Weekend in America. If I see anybody wearing a Red Wings jersey, I'm kicking him or her right in the shins.

Potential Hero: Tonight? On the road against the best team in the division? We're gonna need Everybody to be the hero tonight.

Potential Goat: Whoever takes a penalty in the first 10 minutes of the game. WATCH YOURSELF, Shane O'Brien.

Final Thought: Roberto Luongo's head is a jelly donut.

Canucks 3, Avs 1

Saturday, February 11, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: St Louis Blues, 2/11/12

The Good Guys: Used a strong third period last night to take an important two points. Ryan O'Reilly provided some Radar Love, finally capitalizing with just under 2 seconds left in overtime after having multiple prime scoring opportunities throughout regulation. O'Reilly set up his own game winner with a strip of Carolina's Justin Faulk in the neutral zone, and then blew a slapshot past Cam Ward that ignited the Pepsi Center crowd. Another two points tonight and a Phoenix loss to Chicago would vault the Avs back into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, ahead of the Coyotes and idle Dallas.

Bunch Of Dicks: The St Louis Blues play the part of not-so-gracious hosts to the Avs tonight. While Colorado has been able to beat the Blues with some regularity over the past couple seasons, this Blues team is different from those editions. Chubby Gomez Addams-lookalike Ken Hitchcock has the Blues near the top of the NHL standings, which means we're going to be stuck looking at Ken Hitchcock's constipated rape-stare for the foreseeable future behind an NHL bench. Perfect way to spend a Saturday night, eh?

We Like: Resiliency; specifically, the Avalanche's resiliency in the face of early game deficits. By no means does this excuse those poor starts that have seen the Avs down 1-0 before ten minutes have elapsed in a game all too often this season (including last night's game). It does recognize that the team has not melted down or quit altogether when faced with these circumstances, which is a welcome departure from the team that would fall apart at the first sign of adversity at this point last season.

We Don't Like: Ummm...yeah, let's render that last point moot by, y'know, NOT ALLOWING THE FIRST GOAL OF THE GAME ONCE IN AWHILE! Maybe try and score first every now and then?

Randomly: For NHL Gamecenter subscribers that don't have access to NHL Network, it's a real kick in the ballbag to see the best game of the day/evening cherry-picked and put on the network and rendered inaccessable to Gamecenter customers. I get the reasoning behind wanting your better games shown on the house network. I also get the reason behind why you black those games out to the fans that care enough about your league to pay in excess of $150 a season to have access to all the games, and that reason is flat-out greed. That's wrong.

Potential Hero: He's taken his lumps from me on this blog and on Twitter this season, despite remaining one of my favorite players, and now that he's on a bit of a roll, it's time to give Paul Stastny some credit. He's stepped up his game this past week, and has been playing with more tenacity than we've seen from him in nearly a calendar year. Had he been bothered by injuries that are slowly dissipating, or was he dealing with hurt feelings over the trade of his buddy Chris Stewart? Either way, an effective Stastny gives the Avs the first-option playmaker they need as Matt Duchene continues to recover from his knee injury. Look for Stastny to extend his streak of solid play tonight in his hometown.

Potential Goat: Someone want to open the oven and check the temperature on Jan Hejda? Because I think he's done!

Honestly, I was a fan of the Hejda signing, and I still think he holds value, but he has played progressively worse all season, and last night was an embarrassing effort from him. Maybe a night or two in the press box is what Hejda needs to clear his head and re-set his game, because it's jarring to see an NHL defenseman whirling his head hopelessly toward the goal three seconds after the puck goes in the net...and then doing it a second time later during the same game. Is he still suffering from the brutal Raffi Torres cheapshot he took back in December?

Final Thought: Generally, a guy will look less sketchy after he shaves off a ratty mustache. Somehow, Ken Hitchcock looks MORE sketchy without his. How did he do that?

Blues 4, Avs 2

Friday, February 10, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Carolina Hurricanes, 2/10/12

The Good Guys: Continued their Jeckyl-and-Hyde act with a convincing 5-2 win over a disorganized looking Blackhawks team on Tuesday. A four goal outburst in the first 6 minutes of the second period left the game knotted at two, but the Avs rolled in the third period, led by rookie Gabriel Landeskog's early goal. A win tonight could have the Avs one point back of the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, and they seem to handle themselves well against Eastern Conference teams; Colorado is 10-2 in those matchups this season.

Bunch Of Dicks: Try as I might, I can't seem to work up any sort of ill-will toward the Carolina Hurricanes. In some regards, they carry a similar "lifespan" as the Avalanche, as both teams are one-time WHA refugees, and relocated within two years of one another. Both teams have made two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final, with the former Whalers taking the title in 2006. The Canes have boasted several of my personal favorite players over the years, including Ron Francis and Rod Brind'Amour, and for good measure, Canes owner Peter Karmanos carries great disdain for Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch. Can't hate that, can we?

Tonight, we can. F Carolina.

We Like: The Avs always seem to look their best against a team that's willing to play up and down, run-and-gun hockey with them, and nowhere was that more apparent than the win over Chicago on Tuesday. The Blackhawks played aggressively, albeit sloppily, in their offensive zone, and the Avs were able to take advantage to the tune of multiple odd-man chances. Never mind the fact that the Avs don't necessarily have the finishers needed to take full advantage of those chances, as Dan Winnik and Chuck Kobasew may as well have been shooting with mops and shovels; their increased commitment to playing sound defensive hockey this year occasionally yields glimpses of the strong counterattacking scheme coach Joe Sacco envisions.

Know who would fit like a glove in a system that emphasizes strong positional play in the defensive zone and quick transition on the counterattack? Zach Parise. Just throwin' that out there.

We Don't Like: It's Friday, we have cold beer in the fridge, we don't have to worry about giving up a loser point to our opponent tonight affecting the Avs negatively in the playoff race...there's nothing to not like. Yet.

Randomly: It's a dumb thing to spend much time worrying about, but why does it seem like every team who got awful jersey treatments in the conversion to the "Edge" Reebok jerseys has updated their look...and the Avs havent? Florida got rid of all that excess piping, Edmonton went back to their classic 80's uniforms. What on Earth is preventing Colorado from either going back to the original jersey design, or even cleaning up their current look with more traditional striping? Does ANYBODY think the giant "parentheses" stripes look good? Does it even make sense to have them right in line with the captain/alternate captain designation letter? Please, Reebok, I promise I'll buy one if you just clean it up. Pinky swear.

Potential Hero: Know who's been awfully quiet lately? Ryan O'Reilly. The future captain is due.

Potential Goat: Home game against a struggling team that you SHOULD beat? Look no further than undisciplined penalties. Dumb stick fouls, which the Avs seem to take one or two of every game, have the potential to ruin the evening.

Final Thought: I have a really hard time seeing Colorado losing this game. Really hard. That can only mean one thing:

Hurricanes 3, Avs 1

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Chicago Blackhawks, 2/7/12

The Good Guys: ...were about 10 feet away from taking an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the final minute on Saturday against Vancouver. A TJ Galiardi miss on the empty net, followed by Kevin Bieksa's Andy Van Slyke-ish diving snag of another Galiardi empty net chance led to Bieksa tying the game, and a Canucks shootout win. In other news, QFERGHQKLERGFERGFQITFQERGVWGBVJQREGFOGWRTHJLGODDAMMIT

Bunch Of Dicks: The Blackhawks have been in the same boat as the Avs lately, having lost their past 5 games in a row. The difference is, the Hawks have a little more margin for error, as they seem to be safely ensconced in playoff position. Chicago is okay in my book, as of the day they dealt Chris Chelios to Detroit. Toews, Kane, Keith, and Hossa are legitimate elite players, they have the best uniforms in the NHL, and the Hawks are a must-watch team for me.

We Like: Not much to like lately with the Avs, but news that Matt Duchene has resumed skating is welcome good news. Tyson Barrie makes his debut on the Avs blueline tonight, and could provide a bit of a spark the way Stefan Elliott did in December.

We Don't Like: Seen the standings lately? 12th place in the Western Conference, behind teams like Calgary and Minnesota. Taint-punches all around.

Randomly: NBC Sports missed a huge opportunity to turn their chicken shit LA/Tampa matchup tonight into chicken salad. Two words: MELROSE BOWL.

Potential Hero: Erik Johnson has played well against Chicago this season. EJ has elevated his game when matched up against elite talent, and he should see plenty of that tonight.

Potential Goat: Fair or unfair, Paul Stastny has received plenty of criticism for the season he's had thus far. That comes with the high price tag. The Avs need more out of Stastny if they're going to pull out of this tailspin, and another invisible performance tonight virtually guarantees a sixth straight loss.

Final Thought: A big win against a quality opponent tonight would be something for the young Avs to use as a rallying point. Unfortunately, they're going to be dealing with an angry Chicago team tonight, and it's hard to imagine pulling two points out of this one.

Blackhawks 4, Avs 2

Saturday, February 4, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Vancouver Canucks, 2/4/12

The Good Guys: Played a fantastically mediocre game on Thursday in a deflating 1-0 loss to Manbearpig. The Avs controlled the puck for the most part, and JS Giguere made several key saves, but it wasn't enough to overcome a fluky early goal from Greg Zanon. It wasn't an entirely dark effort, however: Erik Johnson played an elite game, and Gabriel Landeskog played an angry, aggressive game; his best game as a pro. Despite those two bright spots, it was as crushing a regular season loss as the Avs are going to see all season, as it put them 3 points behind the Wild in the race for the final playoff spot and allowed Dallas and Calgary (!) to leapfrog them in the standings as well. The Avs have played more games than every team in the NHL thus far, and their record against Northwest Division opponents dropped to an inexcusable 2-12.

Bunch Of Dicks: Vancouver plays in the Northwest Division; they're also leading said division. The Canucks boast the distinction of a roster that features the highest overall percentage of dicks, assclowns, con men, sleazeballs, and shady characters in the NHL. Their coach, Alain Vigneault, is a slickster snake-oil salesman who talks out of both sides of his mouth well enough to drink coffee and play the trumpet at the same time. These guys can suck it. Part of the appeal of watching any Canucks game is the realistic potential of Sami Salo spontaneously deconstructing like one of those dolls with velcro-attached limbs.

We Like:, we LOVE the idea espoused by Sportsnet's Marc Spector that it's time for the Canucks to trade Cory Schneider. Can you imagine skittish Canucks fans being asked to entrust a purse dog like Roberto Luongo to carry their team all the way through the playoffs without the safety net provided by the seemingly steady and competent Schneider? Schadenfreude!

We Don't Like: The lack of a timetable on Matt Duchene's return from a knee injury. The Avs persevered for some time without Mighty Matt, but three consecutive one-goal losses to inferior opponents points to the difference an offensive player like Duchene can make. The Avs don't have enough offensive difference makers to afford to be missing Duchene much longer, and they sure as hell don't seem all that inclined to spend the money necessary to replace him via trade. Gee Greg Sherman, think Michael Ryder (18g, 17a) or Kris Versteeg (20g, 24a) would have been more sound offseason investments than Chuck Kobasew? Oh, that's right: Kobasew was cheaper. In all fairness, I'm sure Sherman was concerned about signing deals that put the Avs within $15 million of the salary cap ceiling, so in that regard, Kobasew made more sense. I'm going to have an aneurysm.

Randomly: No, seriously, I think I'm going to have an aneurysm. Every time I think about the second-wealthiest owner in the NHL playing footsie with the cap floor, my vision goes all gray and fuzzy, and my eyeball starts twitching. Sherman claims Enos authorized him to spend to the cap, which means either Sherman is incompetent (possible) or a liar (probable).

Potential Hero: Any Avs fan that can make it through watching this entire game without wanting to throw his or her TV into a fire.

Potential Goat: I'm so down on this cheapskate, bare-bones franchise right now, I'm tempted to award Enos "Honorary Goat Of The Year" now and chuck this segment from the blog. This team could have been a contender THIS YEAR if they committed some money to it.

Final Thought:

Canucks 5, Avs 3

Thursday, February 2, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota Wild, 2/2/12

"Yo Avs fans: we heard you like playing the Minnesota Wild, so we took the Minnesota Wild and put it in all your hockey games so you can play the Minnesota Wild in all your hockey games."

For seemingly the 19th time this season, the Avs battle the Wild. Nothing to really say about Minnesuckhole except "F off". For some reason, losing to the Wild and their Manbearpig logo really grates on my sack. So tonight, no regular Gameday Primer, no good guys or dicks, no heroes or goats. Not to overstate it, but tonight's game may be the turning point of the season. If the Avs can't beat these turds in their own building, they don't deserve to be in the playoff race. Let's do this.

Avs 5, Wild 2