Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Were the Colorado Avalanche written off by some too early?
Thursday night's 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators continued a potentially season-turning sequence for the Avs, who have now gone 8-3-2 since starting the season 9-13-6. Combined with Winnipeg's loss at Arizona, the Avalanche moved to within five points of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. If the Jets (47 points), a marvelous story this season, fade even just a bit, it's going to open up that last playoff spot for quite a second-half race along with Calgary (45 points), Dallas (43 points), Colorado (42 points) and Minnesota (41 points).
more topics including Burnside on the Rangers and Custance on the Blues...
from Nick Groke of the Denver Post,
The first step for the Avalanche to get back on a scoring run, according to coach Patrick Roy, is to get boring.
The Avs' best forwards are slumping — the team ranks third-to-last in the Western Conference for goals scored — as Colorado hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on New Year's Eve at Pepsi Center.
And for Roy, the key for the Avs will be to add some dump-and-chase to their skill.
"I'm not crazy about putting pucks behind their 'D' and getting the forecheck going. But some nights, their 'D' does a good job closing the gap on us and there's no room," Roy said.
"We have no choice but to put pucks behind their 'D' and try to generate offense a different way."
from Lyle Richardson at The Hockey News,
As the Colorado Avalanche struggle near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, they are becoming the subject of trade chatter among pundits and bloggers. The Avalanche are once again among the NHL’s worst defensive teams, fuelling speculation they could move one of their young forwards for blueline help.
In recent days center Ryan O’Reilly’s name has surfaced as a possible trade candidate. Former Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater claims the 23-year-old is being offered around for a defenseman, citing Florida, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal as pondering the possibility.
ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recently made mention of a rumored O’Reilly-for-Keith Yandle swap with the Arizona Coyotes. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes O’Reilly, who has a history of contentious contract negotiations with the Avs, will be eligible for free agency again in 2016.
CapGeek.com page on O'Reilly...
from Micke Chambers of the Denver Post,
Martin Brodeur, in his first start against the Patrick Roy-coached Avalanche, coasted Monday night to a 16-save, 3-0 shutout over Colorado and under-siege goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Afterward, Roy indirectly criticized Brodeur, his former on-ice rival, on being named the No. 1 star at the Scottrade Center. But Roy directly criticized his high-priced forwards — presumably Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O'Reilly, Daniel Briere, Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla — who are collectively not getting it done offensively.
"A shutout is a shutout, and you have to make some saves," Roy said of Brodeur, who surpassed him in all-time NHL wins. "But maybe it was one of his easiest ones."
Landeskog and Briere have zero goals in their last 10 games. Duchene and MacKinnon have one in that span, O'Reilly two and Tanguay and Iginla three apiece.
"When you're looking at guys with zero goals in 10 games or one or two goals in 10 games, it's clear that we need to do things differently," Roy said, adding that he has tried to simplify the offense by focusing on putting shots on net.
Roy suspects the Avalanche generated only five scoring chances. The Blues had 17 after two periods, plus two third-period breakaways and a goal by Vladimir Tarasenko.
"Right now too many of our forwards are in a slump," Roy said. "If you look at our last 10 games, there's too many of them with one goal in 10 games or zero goals. It's not enough offensively. We need more from our top guys."
Below, watch Roy post-game...
from Nick Groke of All Things Avs,
The Avalanche on Sunday dropped rookie goalie Calvin Pickard back to the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters. It was an expected move — Colorado coach Patrick Roy had said it was coming at some point. But it still caused some consternation....
But Pickard’s rise did raise some serious questions — mainly about Colorado’s backup goalie Reto Berra. It was (maybe is) a legitimate goalie controversy.
The Avs reached to get Berra at last season’s trade deadline, then gave him a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension nine days later....
And Roy on Sunday was not treating Berra with kid gloves.
“Unfortunately, this is the business we’re in,” Roy said. “We’re in the business where we need to win hockey games. There was a guy (Pickard) who came in and played hard for us. (Berra) is lucky today that Pickard is not 25- or 26-years-old.”
What Roy means, it seems, is that if Pickard were already further along in his development and making a bigger salary, that Berra might have been replaced by Pickard. Instead, Roy and Sakic decided that Pickard needed the regularity of games in the AHL instead of the bench spot Berra occupies.
from Scott Lewis of Sportsnet,
- Defenceman Andrew MacDonald was something of a punchline for the analytics set when he was with the Islanders. Without Travis Hamonic on the ice with, MacDonald was a one-way door for shot attempts. Still, with free agent status looming in the summer ahead, prevailing thought had MacDonald getting paid.
The Philadelphia Flyers saw MacDonald as an upgrade to their defence corp, so they sent two draft picks to the Islanders and planned on signing the 28-year old to a long-term deal.
The Flyers rewarded MacDonald with a six-year, $30 million contract shortly after acquiring him.
MacDonald and his defence partner Luke Schenn combine to make $8.6 million, annually. Try and find a more porous pairing in that price range.
- The Colorado Avalanche sent two years of P.A. Parenteau at $4 million per to the Montreal Canadiens for one year of Daniel Briere at the same price.
The trouble with this move for the Avalanche is that Parenteau is still a very useful and effective player who’s 31-years old. Briere is a 37-year old, one-dimensional player who’s not really worthy of a regular spot in an NHL lineup anymore.
Parenteau currently shades on the positive side of the puck possession spectrum and has played the bulk of his even-strength minutes on a line with Max Pacioretty in Montreal. Briere has found himself in the pressbox on occasion in Denver.
more 'bad' trades...
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Paul Stastny was greeted by a throng of reporters in front of his stall in the Blues dressing room at the Pepsi Center on Saturday, the next step in his Colorado homecoming.
While it's the second time the Blues have played Colorado this season, it's the first time Stastny has faced them. He missed the first meeting with a shoulder injury.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has seen similar situations before and knows it's not going to be an easy day for the center.
"I think it's really uncomfortable for players," Hitchcock said. "I think you have a very difficult time. You need the first one in the books. It's unfortunate the first time, he was hurt. That could have made this one easier. I think he just has to go through it and be better for it when we finish the game and get on the bus and get back to St. Louis. I think it's a very difficult challenge for somebody who was an impact player on a good hockey club. I think it's going to be really difficult for him."
from Nick Groke of All Things Avs,
“I’m very proud of our captain, the fight that he had,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “I’m not saying it was for fighting. But he showed a lot of character out there. And we cannot lose a game where your captain does that. We have to find a way to win.”
more on the fight...
First the Winnipeg broadcast...
Below, the Colorado broadcast...
“What can you say? Look what (Bobrovsky) did tonight. The saves and the poise – he’s our leader back there. When he’s playing like that, we feel so confident. We don’t want to make mistakes, but when we do he’s there to back us up. We have full confidence in him knowing he is such a competitor.”
-Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. More on the suddenly hot (five game winning streak) from Shawn Mitchell of Puck-Rakers.
from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,
Colorado is injury-plagued, with six third- and fourth-line forwards out of the lineup. But the six who make up the top two lines are intact and couldn't get it done in front of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.
"We didn't have nearly enough. We have to generate more," Avs center Matt Duchene said. " 'Picks' gave us a chance to win. We gave ourselves a chance to win by the way we played defensively and how we penalty killed. The goose egg is on the board for a reason. It's tough right now. That's a game that takes the wind out of your sails."
The Avs hit iron beside Rinne three times, but didn't have enough bodies around the Predators' goalie at other times.
With Pickard pulled for a sixth attacker during a stretch late in regulation, Gabriel Bourque and James Neal scored empty-net goals to clinch it for the visitors.
The Avs only generated 15 shots after two periods.
more on the game...
Even a players only meeting earlier this week didn't help.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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