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

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