Semyon Varlamov made sure the Avs got the win in today’s game. The young goaltender made 34 saves, many of them spectacular, or during the penalty kill, or both. While the team played well in front of him, this game was a complete goaltender’s battle.
Paul Stastny blocked a shot with his foot last night, and today the team announced that he will be out for 10 days. The team didn’t give a time frame for Ryan Wilson’s return (he took an awkward fall on the ankle that has caused him to miss 17 games already), but they have already recalled Tyson Barrie from Lake Erie, so he’ll be out for at least a week.
The Avs will fly to Minnesota tonight to start off a brief home and home series with the Wild. Obviously I’m hoping for a stronger effort than the one they showed last night. Minnesota is a good team, and they’re sitting at the top of the Northwest division right now. The Avs need to buck up, and realize that this whole “win two games-lose three games” habit is unacceptable. At the beginning of the season, they said that playoffs were the only option. It’s time to prove themselves, and provide a tenacious fight for a postseason spot for fans to observe.
Milan Hejduk is scheduled to return from his “torso injury” (he said that he had a stiff neck). At practice today, according to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, he played on a line with Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog, while David Jones played with Ryan O’Reilly and John Mitchell. Sacco wasn’t sure if that line would stay together. In my opinion, he has to keep Hejduk on Stastny’s line. Stastny and Hejduk have had chemistry together ever since Stastny joined the team. Jones isn’t scoring, and quite frankly, he’s playing pretty terribly right now (or, at least, playing like a man with a new baby at home). Mitchell and O’Reilly are excellent players, and they get a lot of icetime, so I don’t think Jones can really view this as a demotion. I just hope that Aaron Palushaj gets to stay in the lineup if these are the lines Sacco goes with-”Palush” has played so well, and I don’t think it’s fair to take him out of the lineup. Tyson Barrie was returned to Lake Erie to make room for Hejduk on the roster, which makes sense. The Avs have seven defensemen with two-way contracts, and Barrie isn’t going to see the ice much now that the top pairing of Wilson and Johnson has returned from injury.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal. I hope that his competitive nature will lead to him playing one of his really stellar games after a poor outing last night. The Avs can’t afford to lose this one. They need at least three points out of this home and home. Put your big boy pants on, fellas.
Sorry I didn’t post yesterday-I’m sick and my cat has an ear infection, and so we spent yesterday sleeping and moaning together.
There wasn’t a lot of information to come out of Avs practice today. The team did say that they think Gabriel Landeskog will be able to start skating again soon. Hopefully they’re right, and his return, while not imminent, is forthcoming.
Well folks, it’s almost here. If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few months, I’m sure you’ve grown weary of constantly reading the phrase “if the lockout ends” and only hearing about five different Avalanche regulars. Now though, we can put that suffering behind us (until next time), and focus on what we really care about: Avalanche players playing Avalanche hockey.
I was at camp today, for the second half. They boys all seemed to be in good spirits, but they were still working hard. The power play/penalty kill units saw quite a bit of time, and then there were a couple of drills that focused on practicing cycling and one-timers. There was also a brief shoot out (which only about 10-12 players participated in for some reason). There were a few stand out things from today that I wanted to mention…
-Paul Stastny had an awesome move in the shoot out practice that totally fooled Varlamov (who we all know rocks the shoot out). I could never understand why he never got the nod to go in the SO, and now am even more perplexed. Maybe this year?
-Jamie McGinn looked really sharp. A lot of nice shots, some solid positioning…I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in a full season with the Avs (although it is a bit of a stretch to call this a full season, I know.)
-Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson were both moving the puck really well today along the blue line. Ryan Wilson was mostly in a penalty killer role for practice today, but I saw him do some stickhandling on his own and it looked smooth.
-Chuck Kobasew still looked sick to me. I know he was playing, and that the training staff obviously cleared him, but he just sort of had that look in his eyes that sick people get (the one that says OH GOD I JUST WANT TO BE ABSORBED BY MY BED). I really think he’ll be tomorrow’s not-so-healthy forward scratch.
-Both Varlamov and Giguere looked sharp. Giguere was especially impressive in the shoot out practice, particularly when one considers he’s usually pretty bad when it comes to shoot outs.
-Duchene kept fanning on the puck in one drill, and overall seemed a bit frustrated with himself. Hopefully, he just calms down, and he’ll be fine tomorrow.
Preview: January 19, 2013, 7:00 PM MT
Last season, the Avs and the Wild split their season series. Of course, last season was not only last season, but it involved different squads. I’m looking for the Avs to get a really quick start tomorrow evening. Even if they don’t get a goal right away, I think they need to be hitting and playing a quick tempo game. I imagine that Sacco will make use of the fourth line (projected: McLeod-Olver-Bordeleau) to really ensure the energy is upbeat. Hopefully, the boys in burgundy and blue will take the crowd out of the game (this may take longer than the usual first ten minutes, given the fact that the Wild fans have been waiting with rabid anticipation to see their much-improved team play).
- Players to Look Out For-Obviously, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two big fish last summer, are players that the Avs need to be aware of at all times on the ice. Dany Heatley is always a goal-scoring threat, Devin Setuguchi had a good year last year, and Mikku Koivu is a skilled player. Word is that Zenon Konopka is going to be in the lineup, so Avs need to be careful when it comes to throwing down the gauntlet.
- Goaltending- It’s likely the Avs will face Niklas Backstrom in net. He’s a very good goalie, so the team needs to be patient, screen him, and above all else, keep shooting the puck.
- Predictions- I’m too superstitious to make a full scale prediction about the outcome or the score, but I will predict this: the Avs will score tomorrow, and at least one goal will come from a defenseman.
The Avs sent down forward Michael Sgarbossa and defenseman Stefan Elliott. Forward David van der Gulik has been put on waivers and will be reassigned to Lake Erie if he passes through the waivers unclaimed. This means that Mark Olver, Patrick Bordeleau, and Tyson Barrie will be staying up with the club.
Today is the 22nd birthday of the number three pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He has 150 points in 219 games in the NHL-and if he keeps up the torrid pace he scored at in Europe, he’s bound to get his total even closer to 1.0p/g. Before the obligatory video spam of Duchene, here’s what’s happening in Avalanche-land:
Semyon Varlamov joined the boys for practice today, along with the players called up from Lake Erie. Patrick Bordeleau, Michael Sgarbossa, Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott, Mark Olver, and David van der Gulik have all been called to participate in training camp, which is expected to start Sunday. I’m pretty surprised that Brad Malone and Andrew Agozzino were left in Erie, but perhaps the team didn’t want to disrupt things too much for the Monsters. I think it’s interesting that both Barrie and Elliott were recalled. Elliott has definitely been having a tough season thus far, but Barrie has been killing it, and is second on the team in points. Still, there are seven different defensemen who have one way contracts already available, so it seems unlikely that either will crack a spot on the lineup, unless the team decides to go with eight defensemen.
Right now, it seems unlikely that O’Reilly will be with the team for training camp. First, I’m not sure if he can sign a contract until the new CBA is officially ratified by the Players’ Union. Second, he and his agent have only been talking with the Avs again since Tuesday. Unless the Avs are willing to give him the five years he is reportedly pushing for right away, I don’t think we’ll be seeing him come Sunday. We can hope that he’ll be back by the 19th, but I think we do need to prepare ourselves just in case he isn’t.
For anyone who wishes to attend practice tomorrow, or camp, here are the numbers of the players who have been called up or just joined the team this season:
14-David van der Gulik
Also, remember that Chuck Kobasew has changed to number 12.
Today the players split into two teams (thanks to Kevin Goff for posting on twitter):
|Team Black||Team Grey|
|van der Gulik||Hejduk|
Joe Sacco was available to speak to the media today for the first time since the lockout ended. One comment he made (as reported in the Denver Post) was
“The mood and the spirit – I’ve talked to just about every guy that’s back now – and they’re all very excited, they all seem to have a lot of enthusiasm. The spirit it very high in (the locker room), and just peeking in and watching the scrimmages the other day, their own personal workouts, there’s some good jump, some good pace in their steps.”
December found the Monsters with 6 wins and 7 losses, finishing out the year with an overall record of 16-14-2-1.
The Monsters are sitting third in the North Division with 35 points , which is shaping up to be quite the competitive group of teams this year. The Monsters have a winning percentage of 0.530. They’ll finish out 2012 with a home record of 7-6-1-1 and a road record which reads just about the same at 9-8-1-0. While the Monsters are 4-5-1-0 in their last ten games they are riding a 4 game home winning streak.
A few things to take note of as 2012 winds down :
- Joey Hishon has been cleared to skate with the Monsters and has been referred to as “day to day” by Avalanche VP of player development Craig Billington. He still has not been cleared to play, but is making steps forward hopefully to returning to the game.
-Through 33 games both of the Monsters rookie goaltenders are putting up decent numbers. Sami Aittokallio has 9 wins, 8 losses, a GAA of 3.17 and a save percentage of 0.895. Calvin Pickard has 7 wins and 8 losses with a slightly better GAA of 3.02 and his save percentage is 0.903. Calvin also has 3 shut outs to his credit this season so far.
-Rookie forwards Mike (Michael) Sgarbossa and Andrew Agozzino are making an impact on offense. Sgarbossa (with 12 goals and 15 assists) and Agozzino (with 11 goals and 14 assists) are leading the team in points. Agozzino also is leading the team in plus/minus at +11.
- Tyson Barrie is also putting the effort in from the blue line. In his second season with the Monsters Tyson is a plus 2 with 6 goals and 16 assists. Barrie is also seeing quality special teams time on both the penalty kill and the power play. Stefan Elliott is starting to find his way this season but still needs some development at the AHL level.
Once the team finds a bit more over all consistency I believe they will be able to go toe to toe the rest of the season with the upper level teams of the league.
Quick Update: Duchene played in his first Swedish Elite League game for Frolunda yesterday. He earned two assists, including one on the game winning goal. According to some Swedish articles on the game, Duchene was very strong on the puck, and tried out a few of his fancy spins. If I was excited about seeing him after a summer of hard training before, I’m ecstatic now-hopefully I’ll get to see him playing in Denver soon. Semyon Varlamov did not play in Lokomotiv’s last game (they lost), but I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about. Also, Ryan O’Reilly has found himself a lockout job. He will be working as an assistant coach for his old junior team in Clinton, Ontario.
Now, onto the big story: the Lake Erie Monsters. The Monsters played their first game of the season yesterday, and won! Their opponent, the Oklahoma City Barons are the Edmonton Oilers affiliate team, and boasted a strong lineup, including young NHL stars Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sami Aittokallio, by all accounts, was simply brilliant in his professional debut. He allowed one goal on 30 shots. Andrew Agozzino scored his first professional goal with three and a half minutes left to win the game. It was a 2-1 win, at home, making the Monsters 4-2 all time during season openers. Today, the Monsters finished their back to back set by playing the Barons once again, however they lost this match-up 3-2. Goaltender Calvin Pickard earned his first professional loss, although he made 29 saves on 32 shots. Paul Carey scored his first professional goal, and Mitchell Heard earned his first professional point (an assist) in the loss. Tyson Barrie, who split the season between the Monsters and the Avs last year, scored his first goal of the season today.
Overall, it looks like the Monsters penalty kill was really good for the first two games (13/14 kills made). The power play needs some work, although it improved from 0/6 to 2/7 from Friday to Saturday. The Monsters next game will be on Tuesday, and we should have pictures from these first two games up tonight or tomorrow.