FACEOFF: 8pm Central (about 6-beer o’clock for most of us)
TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN 720
SO BUTTONS: Mile High Hockey
Perhaps the Avs are being weighed down by everyone in the hockey world’s “I told you so’s”, but it has not been a very kind season to the Snow Drifts Of Denver. And we can’t say that it hasn’t been hugely satisfying to watch. Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic couldn’t wait to tell us how they had the system beat, and now it’s beating them over the head. Delicious.
The Avs sit in the Central’s basement, with a 8-9-5 record. The problem is what everyone told them it would be. They give up far too many shots, 34 per game which is third-worst in the league and this time around Semyon Varlamov hasn’t been able to channel Mayan gods to bail them out, being either hurt or just mediocre. He’s got a SV% of just .918, which is fine if you’re on a good team that limits opportunities. It’s not near enough when your defense is turning the zone into Dresden.
On the other end, the loss of Paul Stastny wasn’t really compensated for as they still seem intent on playing Ryan O’Reilly on a wing for REASONS. So instead of being still pretty deep down the middle with MacKinnon-Duchene-O’Reilly, they’ve decided to more expose their dogshit bottom six which was always a problem. This is one reason they’re 20th in goals-scored, and they need to light it up because this blue line has the odor of open sewage. Elsewhere among the forwards is the rotting corpse in the sun Daniel Briere, who they traded a useful player for in PA Parenteau. Jarome Iginla puffs and wheezes his way up and down the ice, he’s only got three goals. Permanently annoying Alex Tanguay is back this season, and leads them with seven goals.
It’s a defense that could be even weaker tonight as Erik “Golf Cart Hero” Johnson got pretty well clocked last night by Martin Hanzal and may not make the bell tonight with all the bells he’s hearing in his head. Aside from him, Tyson Barrie has 15 points, none of which have allowed him to acquire the compass he needs in his own zone. This is a team that actually traded for Brad Stuart, which I can’t even comprehend. Nate Guenin, Nick Holden, and Jan Hejda have all returned to Guy-ville, which is what they always were. There is basically nothing here.
And yet, even when the Avs sucked out loud two years ago, or the year before that, they were a goddamn nuisance for the Hawks. Why? They’re one of the few teams that boast more speed than the Hawks, and when the Hawks would bone something in the neutral zone the Avs could race away faster than the Hawks could catch them on the backcheck. And when that didn’t work, Varlamov saved everything. The Hawks have had consistent trouble with the Avs power play as well, with its good movement of puck and bodies. None of that really changes whatever Colorado’s record might be.
As for the men in white tonight, it appears as if Corey Crawford will take another start, leaving Raanta to get fed it by either the Ducks or Kings. Andrew Shaw will return which sent Phillip Danault back to Rock Vegas, and can waste all of our time at center. At least he’ll be a bottom six center for a period tonight before Q vaults him between Kane and Versteeg again, all the while giggling maniacally and grabbing his junk in Stan Bowman’s general direction. Jeremy Morin can once again sit back and try and figure out what it is Joakim Nordstrom actually does with the rest of us.
The Hawks should come out with a little more pep after laying a giant egg in Vancouver. They should also want to put one over the Avs pretty badly after going 1-4 against them last season, including perhaps Brent Seabrook’s worst ever game about a year ago exactly (and that’s saying something). But they’ll have to be tighter in the neutral zone than they’ve been a lot this year, because any mistake can be punished by the speedy forwards on the Avs’ top six. God knows we’ve seen enough of Landeskog doing it to know that. If the Hawks can manage that Lord knows they’ll get enough chances in the other end. Should be a lot of odd-mans too as the Avs defense likes to get jumpy and pinchy, and there isn’t much of a structure among the forwards.
And we all want to see a right hammering here. Please give it to us.