Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Semyon Varlamov Is A Fucking Piece of Shit: Mile High Hockey
In what now feels like their third cycle of the last decade, the visiting Colorado Avalanche are rebuilding, this time at least under the tutelage of an actual adult in Jared Bednar. But the more things change, the more things stay the same in Denver, and the Avs find themselves once agian in the league’s basement.
For as big a dipshit as Patrick Roy was behind the bench, there is still plenty to be desired with actual construction of this roster, which he also had a hand in committing arson to prior to leaving this summer in a petulant fit befitting of Roy’s entire career. Jared Bednar, coming off titles in both the ECHL and AHL, has been charged with picking up the pieces, and so far the results have not been pretty. Even just last night, the Avs got thoroughly pecker slapped at home 6-0 by the Maple Leafs, who have real forward prospects and a real coach.
This group is still completely possession allergic which again points to roster construction, as outside of Matt Duchene and Nathan Mackinnon, there just isn’t a lot there anymore. Captain Thrakkazog seems to have been irreparably damaged by his former coach’s desire to have him be more GRITTY, and now is just an ineffective redass, albeit one who still has torched the Hawks regularly in his career. Despite being a legend as well as Canada’s Black Friend (which means they could not possibly be racist), Jarome Iginla has a mere 4 goals and 4 assists to this point in the season. Either he’s finally out of gas, or he truly has stopped giving a shit in Denver, which is counter-intuitive to every (true) thing heard about his character for the past 20 years. Regardless of which it is, he’s certainly doing nothing to increase his tradeability, and kind of killing the dream of him in Red come February. That THAT Rene Bourque is getting top line minutes in Denver at now 36 (christ) is damning enough of the Avs’ situation.
And on the blue line things are no better, as somehow Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Weird Cock did not turn the Avs into a possession juggernaut. Francois Beauchemin, another longtime favorite of this publication, also appears to be completely out of gas and has turned into a big, expensive French turnstile. Tyson Barrie, another Hawk nemesis, appears to have plateaued since getting (rightfully) paid this past offseason, and looks more like a second pairing guy for a team that is any good, but at this point will he have to matter when the Avs are good again?
In net, both Calvin Pickard and Deportation Fodder got work last night, with the criminal taking the brunt of the damage by allowing 5 goals on 18 shots. Both goalies are floating around .900 overall in their save percentages, which is now just flat-out bad in the modern NHL. They’re arguably even worse at evens, where the save percentages remain in the .90X’s and where the league 5v5 average is north of .925. Couple this with the Avs inability to have the puck and it’s pretty clear to see why they are where they are.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, they’ll get their starting goalie back after 3 weeks off from his appendectomy/recovery from his latest New Found Glory show as Corey Crawford reclaims his crease on home ice. Scott Darling was flatly excellent in the 10 straight starts he made in Crawford’s absence, quite possibly earning himself quite a payday elsewhere next season. The meatballs will bray over getting cap space by moving Crawford (who has a no trade in his contract anyway) and promoting Darling, but in a league that has swung back to being more dependent on goaltending, Corey Crawford has been one of the most reliable goalies in the league since the start of this decade, and his contract is now looking like a bargain after taking many (including the authors) here aback at its signing.
But while Crawford returns, both Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa will miss tonight’s game with what by all accounts appears to be some slight dings. And if there’s ever a game to miss, it’s a home game at Christmas against the dregs of the league, who they are catching on the second half of a back to back. This has paved the way for Tanner “Working Class” Kero to get some burn in the show after performing well for a completely slapped together Ice Hogs crew. There is still no real report on what it is Kero actually does, but it’s a decent reward for a guy putting his time in at the AHL level if only to get these few days of NHL pay at Christmas.
Quite simply, there is no excuse for anything other than two regulation points tonight even without Hossa or Anisimov, but the Hawks have been known to fuck around and let the Avs counterpunch with Barrie, Dutch, and Mackinnon. Corey Crawford deserves better than that in his return. Get out there and stuff these two points in your stocking. Let’s go Hawks.