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

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