Thursday, March 8, 2012

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Nashville Predators, 3/8/12

The Good Guys: Needed four points from Manbearpig, and took four points from Manbearpig in emphatic fashion. A 2-0 shutout at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday was followed up by a 7-1 deconstruction in Denver on Tuesday night. The only bad news was Matt Duchene's ankle injury, which will keep the kid out of the lineup for 3-4 weeks, Duchene's second extensive stint on the IR this season. The Avs are now tied with Los Angeles and San Jose for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, although the Kings have two games in hand on Colorado while San Jose has three.

Bunch of Dicks: Every time I watch Nashville play, I get an overwhelming urge for lemon meringue pie. Easter Island native Barry Trotz has the Preds sitting comfortably in the fifth playoff position out west, and his team sent the rest of the NHL a message at the trade deadline with their acquisitions of Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Paul Gaustad. That message: "We're going to ruin market value for average checking line centers and give up a first round pick for Paul Gaustad."

We Like: After getting slapped around like a peewee level team on Saturday against Pittsburgh, the Avalanche came out smoking against Minnesuckwad on Sunday night. Last year, the Avs allowed losses to beat them more than once, often carrying a previous bad game into the following game and creating losing streaks. This is a mentally tougher team, and much of it comes from knowing they have two goalies in Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere who can steal a game if necessary. Varlamov in particular has come through for the Avs lately, and his performance against the Wild on Sunday night was one of his three best of the season.

We Don't Like: Oh, right, the game tonight is in Nashville. This means every time the Predators send designated idiot Jordin Tootoo on the ice, you'll hear train whistles from the enthusiastic Nashville crowd. Well, it's either train whistles, or the sound of emphysema rustling through mouths with less than eight teeth in them, I haven't really confirmed that one way or the other. Either way, it's annoying.

Randomly: I won't pretend to know what Matt Duchene's offseason training consists of, all I can do is go by what I see him tweeting about during the offseason. Last summer, it seemed like it was alot of tweets about fishing. I wouldn't mind seeing him tweeting this summer about how Gary Roberts is kicking his ass, and his commitment to becoming a better all around player. This isn't criticism; Duchene is still a puppy, and different kids grow at a different pace. I want to see a tougher Matt Duchene next season.

Potential Hero: How could it be anybody other than Semyon Varlamov right now? I'll tell you how: games against Nashville always seem to devolve into tight checking affairs where the Preds try to physically dominate the Avs. It always seems like they succeed. Newcomers Steve Downie and Jamie McGinn have brought the Avs some of the snarl they were lacking. The Predators will provide a measuring stick for just how much a difference those two players have made for Colorado thus far.

Potential Goat: So help me god, if Brandon Yip scores a goal for Nashville tonight...

Final Thought: Another must-win. You already knew that.

Preds 3, Avs 2

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