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