Tonight the Avalanche team I expected to see all season showed up. They worked hard, there weren’t too many defensive errors, and all of their scoring potential came through. It’s late in the season, and I’ll do a more thorough recap of what went wrong once this year is officially over for the Avs. For now, I’ll just be happy about the performance tonight.
Oh Avs. You were a minute and a half away from a win. Of course though, the Avs lost in overtime.
I’m still on a total high from today’s game. Yes, the Avs are out realistically out of the playoffs. It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a few good games before the season.
Holy mother of hockey baby. The Avs are just killing me. The epidemic of first periods continued tonight, when the Avs allowed two goals and shot the puck only twice on net. The team did manage to keep the score tied at zero for the first eight minutes (that’s the first time that’s happened in the past five or so games). Then, the penalty kill had a little breakdown, and the puck trickled behind Varlamov. If there’s someone out there who can explain how a team can fail to play competent hockey in the first period 25 games out of 32 (did I mention these are professionals?), your advice would be greatly appreciated by anyone who is still able to watch this team.
The team sort of woke up in the second period, with a goal by Jamie McGinn off P.A. Parenteau’s rebound. Then, 12 seconds later, they allowed a goal, and Calgary retained their two goal lead. Gabriel Landeskog scored another goal for the Avs off a bizarre shot from the goal line. The Flames would score again though. In the third, the Avs had a good effort, but they were only able to score one goal, during a five on three opportunity, from Ryan O’Reilly. Once again, the Avs found themselves behind, and once again, they were unable to win a game of “catch-up hockey.”
Tomorrow night the Avs are back at it against Vancouver. It might be kinda, sorta nice, if the Avs could get a win. I don’t care how they get it (even if it’s after a 30 round shootout), they just need to get it.
-Matt Duchene won 24 faceoffs tonight, a new personal record for faceoffs won in a single game.
-Erik Johnson took a heavy hit from Blake Comeau in the first, and from there on out he just looked dazed. His skating wasn’t smooth anymore, and he just seemed to be making things harder on himself.
-Greg Zanon had the best game of his Avalanche career tonight. He was hitting people at the right time, making some nice plays… kudos Zanon.
Well, it was better than yesterday. Still, the Avalanche found themselves on the losing side of the game.
The Colorado Avalanche have their home-opener for the 2013 NHL season tomorrow evening. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty full house, helped by the fact that the team offered a “buy one get one free” ticket promotion. This game isn’t just going to be important for the two points, it’s going to be important for bringing the fanbase back for the entirety of the season.
Now that I’ve had a little bit more time to process Landeskog being named captain, I thought I would open up my thoughts about this surprising development. First, it seems that the Avalanche camp is divided into four factions:
- Very happy, excited about what this means.
- Very hesitant.
- “YAY GABE I’M SO PROUD I LOVE YOU BABY”
- “Ugh the only people who think this is a good idea are puck bunnies this is going to come back to haunt us.”
I’m surprised by the strength of these reactions, no matter which way they swing. Personally, I find myself at an impass. On the one hand, I knew that Gabriel Landeskog would be named the next captain once Hejduk retired (or apparently, relinquished the captaincy). I believe that Gabriel Landeskog is a leader in the locker room, I believe that while he has his youthful moments, he is mature beyond his years. I believe in my captain. On the other hand, I worry. I worry about Hejduk’s sudden decision to step down (more on this later), I worry about thrusting leadership upon Landeskog during only his second year in the league. I worry because you don’t need to have a letter to be a leader, but you have to be a leader to have a letter, and the letter “C” signifies that you are THE letter.
The team as a whole, has responded positively on twitter:
- Paul Stastny: Congratulations to my boy @GabeLandeskog92 for being named captain! What an honor, well deserved #naturalbornleader #greatStyle
- Daniel Winnik (former teammate): Congrats to @GabeLandeskog92 on being named the youngest captain in league history. Looks like my mentoring paid off.
- David Jones: Congrats to @GabeLandeskog92 on becoming first NHL captain to pour his milk before his cereal……I mean youngest captain ever! #beauty
- Matt Duchene: Congrats to @GabeLandeskog92 on being named Captain! Well deserved big guy
- Jamie McGinn: Congrats to @GabeLandeskog92 on being named #CaptainLandy for the #Avs #brightfuture
- Ryan O’Byrne: Congrats to @GabeLandeskog92 on being named captain of the @Avalanche. Youngest captain in NHL history. Well deserved! #stud
- Ryan O’Reilly: Congrats @GabeLandeskog92 on youngest captain in NHL history. Amazing player and even better guy. #welldeserved #stud #greatStyle
Landeskog himself tweeted “I’m so humbled and greatful for this opportunity, and what an honor to follow in the footsteps of the past captains for the Avs./I couldn’t be more excited and I’m truly looking forward to the challenge. Thank you all for the kind words and support!”
At the end of the day, I’m cautiously optimistic. Perhaps it’s because I’m an optimistic person. Perhaps it’s because, as a fellow teenager, I know that we hold more power than people often give us credit for. Perhaps it’s because Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavlier were named captains at essentially the same time period in their life, and they’ve done pretty well for themselves (they won a big shiny trophy named Stanley). Perhaps it’s because, while Landeskog may have the C, he may have to be the ultimate leader, hockey is a team sport. He will have other leaders in the room (Stastny, Johnson, Hejduk, O’Brien, and McLeod are the ones who immediately come to mind) to help support him along the way. He is not alone on this team, and he has born the mantle of leadership in both the OHL and for team Sweden during the World Championships.
Do I have some reservations? Indeed. However, right now, my biggest concerns revolve around Milan Hejduk.
Why did Hejduk step down from the captaincy? There has been no reason given, and this bothers me. While it is feasible that Hejduk, after suffering career lows in both point and goal totals, wanted to dedicate his focus to simply playing at his highest level again, I have a sneaky feeling that that is not the whole story. I’m concerned that Hejduk felt pressure from the organization, from fans even*, to step down. I’m concerned that the Avalanche simply named Landeskog captain now, before training camp is even underway (if we have a training camp at all this season), because they wanted to have the youngest captain in NHL history. I’m wondering when Hejduk made this decision, pressured or not, and why the Avalanche are just informing the public now that he would not be returning to the team as captain.
Either way, what’s done is done. In the words of Harrison Mooney (Puck Daddy) “All hail boy king Gabriel Landeskog!”
*I know that I heard many Avalanche fans suggesting Hejduk give up the C, saying that there was no shame in it, but he’d performed better without it last season. I can’t say I really agreed with them, although I was worried about his
Which sports would each player participate in?
Like nearly everyone else, I have Olympic fever. Last night, I got to thinking “what sports would the members of the Colorado Avalanche compete in, if they were to be summer Olympians?”
Gabriel Landeskog-I’m putting Landy down for soccer. His brother is a big soccer player, and he even scored his first NHL goal using his feet. Of course, his penchant for hitting people might cause the entire opposing squad to lay down in protest. (I love soccer. But the diving is ridiculous.)
Matt Duchene-I have a good feeling about Dutchy and fencing. He’s got great stick handling skills, so after some adjustments, he could be very savvy with a foil. He also has quick feet for all of the footwork required. Plus, who remembers him jabbing people with his stick after wins? He was clearly practicing earning points!
Matt Hunwick-Hunny is the team sprinter. He’s the fastest player on the Avs skating, so I’m going to guess that he can run a mean 200 meter.
Erik Johnson-I’m putting Edge down for long distance running. (10k, 15k…probably not a marathon, but you never know). This call comes from me observing him on the bench after returning from a lengthy shift. His economy of movement, general energy conservation, and apparent lung capacity (he never panted, just deep, cleansing breaths) gives me confidence that he has the endurance for long distances.
Ryan O’Byrne-Byrner has to be the basketball player on the team. He’s the tallest player on the team, and the only Avalanche basketball story I have heard came from Matt Duchene. And it was not a pretty tale.
Jan Hejda- Hejda could be a good volleyball player, especially if he worked primarily as a setter. (Am I saying that right? I’ve blocked out my 7th grade volleyball unit, it was the most traumatic experience I ever had in all my school years.)
Paul Stastny-Pauly could go for two categories. First, I know he’s a big tennis player (and major Roger Federer fan), so I’m tabbing him for that. A second option is a biking event. I mean, just look at this biking outfit he has. He’s serious about rolling on two wheels.
Semyon Varlamov-Varls, as the most flexible player on the team, is clearly the gymnast of the bunch. He’s a little tall, so he might not be an all around gymnast, but he could certainly specialize on an event or two. (Pommel horse? Floor exercise?)
Ryan Wilson-”Sauce”, as Wilson is affectionately called by his teammates, is the resident baseball player. He played until he was in his teens, and he just competed in Doug Gilmour’s “Dougieball” tournament for charity. Clearly, if anyone on this team can hit a homerun, it’s #44.
Cody McLeod-The highlander represents in boxing. Was there ever any doubt?
Steve Downie-Wrestling? He’s aggressive and dogged, so I think that wrestling is a good fit. It’s a sport as old as time, and he plays some old school hockey.
Ryan O’Reilly; David Jones- Each of these players has a lot of overall skill, so I’m going to say they should be in the heptathlon, decathlon style events. Lots of things to do and be good at.
Chuck Kobasew-Chuckie, I’m making you a rower. No idea why, but I’m running out of sports, and I figure you’d prefer rowing to badminton.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere- Doesn’t Jiggy just seem like a natural, horse-y person? He’s good with his hands, so he’s be able to smoothly give directions to his horse as an equestrian.
Milan Hejduk-Captain archery. Hejdie seems like he would be the best at a high skill sport, such as archery. He’s good at golf, and threading the needle on the ice, so why not archery?
Jamie McGinn-For some reason, I’m getting the feeling that Ginner would love to play some beach volleyball. He’s got enough all around strength to play the sport, and he’s been spending this summer taking pictures of his feet lakeside.
Shane O’Brien-OB is the Michael Phelps of this group. He’s got a strong upperbody, and long arms, which makes me believe he has what it takes to be a natural. Plus, apparently he’s a very good surfer.
101 days have passed since the last Avalanche hockey game. There are 86 days until the first game of the regular season (as long as there is no lockout. Fingers crossed.) This means, my fellow suffering fans, that we have passed the half way point of this tedious summer. We are halfway there. We are singing Bon Jovi at the top of our lungs while standing on top of the coffee table.
Alright, in reality we look something like this:
We have disheveled hair and we feel like we’ve been punched in the face, and we’re blowing lazy bubbles in our gum as we wonder if this summer could possibly be any worse. We find ourselves checking the team’s website daily for news, and then refreshing until we see every player’s face on the background they were kind enough to update before summer. We watch Jamie McGinn’s goal in Buffalo.
And then we sob that we have another blasted 86 days before we get to enjoy stuff like this again.
Well, I am here to tell you that we are all suffering. And because we are all suffering, I have come up with 5 things that we can do right now, in this summer, before our boys are back.
1. Watch the Summer Olympics. They are coming in a little more than a week, and if you need your sports fix, there’s nothing better than the Olympics. You can watch gymnastics, then switch over to swimming. Or beach volleyball. You can remember that there are other athletes in this world besides hockey players.
2. Walk your dog late in the evening. One of the best things about summer is the fact that you can start walking the dog at 7:30 and the temperature, and lighting is perfect. (Plus, it’s better to try and get in shape before the season starts. You won’t be as dedicated to workouts when there are hockey games to watch.)
3. Instead of writing line-ups and worrying about that left-wing position, writing about how we are all screwed if the owners stick to their guns on their proposed changes, try writing a book. Write a poem, write something, anything that isn’t related to hockey. It’s amazing how involved you can get in writing pursuits.
4. Get a massage! Get all of your knots worked out, so they can start anew in October.
5. Plan lots of things with friends. Afterall, once hockey season starts, half of your Fridays and Saturdays are spent with your team.
Remember, we’re halfway there. We’ll make it, I swear.
We are deep in the thralls of summer now, with only the occasional trickle of news reaching us from the Avalanche camp. However, a few contracts have been signed between the Avalanche and several prospects.
First, Sean Sullivan (defensemen) was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. Sullivan split last season between the Worchester Sharks and the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate teams of the San Jose Sharks and the Florida Panthers. He earned 34 points in 61 games. Next is Bill Thomas (right wing), another player who played for the San Antonio Rampage. He did play a seven game stint with the Florida Panthers, wherein he scored one goal. Another defensemen, Thomas Pock, was signed to a one-year deal. He spent his past year playing in Europe, spending some time with Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg’s MODO. Patrick Bordeleau has re-signed, a move that makes many fans, including myself, happy. Bordeleau is more of enforcer, but he does have some skill as well. I don’t expect him to make the Avalanche, but he is a good option if the Avs find themselves in need of a third or fourth line player to call up. Finally, Michael Sgarbossa was inked to a three year, entry level contract. Sgarbossa, along with Jamie McGinn and Mike Connolly, was acquired in the trade between the Avalanche and the Sharks that sent TJ Galiardi and Daniel Winnik to San Jose. Sgarbossa led the OHL in scoring last season, and is one of the prospects whom I feel very excited about. Once again, I don’t expect him to make the team out of training camp, but in the next year or two, I think fans will get to see him play in a few games at least.
Here is a short little article by Adrian Dater of the Denver Post about another Avalanche prospect, Mitchell Heard.
And, finally, here is my projected lineup for next season.
Now of course, the forward lineup is subject mostly to the Milan Hejduk who shows up at camp. If he looks to be his old self, the scorer, he should be on a line with O’Reilly and Landeskog. Should he shows up with the seemingly lost touch he displayed through much of the second half of the season, I am not sure where to put him. I also slotted Downie into a left wing hole because out of the five players who play on the left wing, he seems the most able on his off side. Another option for that left wing hole is Mark Olver. (Also, I put Stastny-O’Reilly-Duchene as 1-2-3 in the same sense that Crosby-Malkin-Staal were 1-2-3. They should really each get about the same amount of playing time in even strength situations.) As for the defensemen, I know I put Elliott with Wilson rather than Zanon or Hunwick, each of whom is considered a safer bet to make the team out of training camp. However, I still think that the Wilson-Elliott pairing is the best match. Those two players, when they played together, worked fabulously. And of all the defensemen on the team, Shane O’Brien seemed to fit the best with Erik Johnson. If Hejda’s wrist should delay his start to the season, I can see the pairing of O’Byrne with either Zanon or Hunwick, though Zanon seems a more likely choice, as he and Hejda’s styles are much more similar.
As for the goaltending, I think it would be good to see Varlamov start about 60 games this season, leaving 22 for J.S. Giguere. Of course, if either finds himself on a winning or losing streak, the number may fluctuate slightly. However, I think this is the best recipe to keep both goaltenders fresh and healthy.