Kukla's Korner Hockey
James Mirtle at From the Rink,
Colorado has been one of the league leaders in attendance ever since moving to Denver back in 1995-96, but with the team going through a bit of a rebuilding phase and the problems with the economy, the Avs are experiencing some issues at the gate.
Denver Post reporter Adrian Dater said yesterday that many believed last night’s game against Edmonton could “be their lowest crowd of all time” and looking at the finally tally that very well may be the case.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
I’m not too impressed with their three-game winning streak. First off, victory No. 1 was against a disjointed Flyers team playing on the road. Victory No. 2 was an early Christmas present, against a Dallas team that missed a bunch of easy chances late in the game, against a goalie who handed them two goals on a silver platter and had a questionable goal called back that would have tied a game the Avs were well in motion of blowing to that point. Win No. 3 was against a Kings team with the pylon in net named Jason LaBarbera.
from Woody Paige of the Denver Post,
He hadn’t won a game since Nov. 9, 2007 and only two games all last season. Two years ago Raycroft had appeared in 72 games, won 37 and lost 25. Last year he dropped to third goalie, fourth, if you count the popcorn salesman.
But the Avs threw him a goalie’s mask, a glove and a life jacket. Their starting goalie at season’s end, Jose Theodore, had moved on to Washington, and backup/ ex-starter Peter Budaj was penciled in as the No. 1 goalie.
Penciled in, not Magic Markered in.
Budaj was burned like a Roman candle in the home opener, then fizzled in the next two.
“I’ve worked very hard since August with Jeff (Hackett, the Avalanche goalie coach), and I felt like I could come in and play well, but I knew I couldn’t put us in a 0-4 hole,” Raycroft said.
from Terry Frei at ESPN,
The obvious choice as a possible Khabibulin suitor now is Colorado, with Budaj struggling horribly out of the gate in his latest opportunity to nail down the Avalanche’s No. 1 job. Colorado has about $5.5 million in cap room available, so it would take some tinkering or sending the Blackhawks a significant salary in return to make room.
Simply sending Budaj to Chicago to serve as Huet’s backup wouldn’t quite be enough, because Budaj’s cap figure is “only” $800,000 this season. In fact, how’s this for a contrast in allocating resources in the cap age: Chicago’s two goalies are making $12.3 million this season; at Colorado, Budaj and Andrew Raycroft are pulling in a combined $1.6 million. But Colorado could find a way to pull it off.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
So where are we now? We’ve got a team that is 0-3, one that has allowed 13 goals and blown all three games in the third period, that’s where. You’ve got a starting goalie with a saves percentage worse than a drunk preacher, and a team that has zero confidence in him. No, nobody has explicitly said that, and never will. But it’s the truth.
Budaj is a good kid, who wants to succeed and his teammates do like him. But liking someone and having confidence he’ll make the tough save in the really tough moments of a hockey game are two separate things.
The fact is, this team is a mess right now, and I lay the blame at the feet of a management group that, based on its off-season decisions, seemed to lose their minds over the summer.
from Jean Lefebvre of the Calgary Herald,
While that initial victory has been elusive for the Flames and Avalanche, the reasons for the early struggles are pretty easy to pin down.
Start with the guys between the pipes—Colorado’s Peter Budaj (.795) and Calgary Miikka Kiprusoff (.807) have the worst save percentages among goaltenders who have played at least one full game.
On the special-teams side of things, the Flames’ power play is worst in the league, as is Colorado’s penalty-killing.
The preseason skeptics pointed toward goaltending as the Avs’ area of worry against the NHL elite. And so far, Peter Budaj hasn’t done anything to shut them up.
-Adrain Dater, Avalanche beat writer for the Denver Post. More about last night’s loss to Edmonton from Dater…
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
...Even Flames President Ken King has said that Bertuzzi, having paid his penalty (an indefinite suspension that amounted to 20 NHL games, approximately $500,000 in lost salary, plus assault charges that yielded a year’s probation with community service and no criminal record), deserves a second chance. Despite polls that indicate a split opinion in that regard, King maintains that fans in Calgary are willing to give it to the notorious forward.
Funny, but I can’t help but wonder who speaks for Steve Moore.
Moore can’t say much on his own. The matter, more than four years removed from the terrible event, has still not made its way into court. Because of that, there is a moratorium regarding public comments on the case in Canada.
from Aaron Lopez of the Rocky Mountain News,
People seem to have a lot of opinions of you, both good and bad. Do you really care what people think?
As a player, you just go out and play the game. As far as fans, I don’t think they know me as a person. They just know me as a hockey player. Whatever I do on the ice or whatever happens on the ice, that’s part of playing the game. It’s my obligation to do the best for my team each and every time I go on the ice. That’s all I really concern myself with.
from Craig Stancher of ColoradoAvalanche.com,
On Thursday, four pioneers of American hockey will be recognized by the Colorado Avalanche before the club drops the puck against the Boston Bruins.
Cammi Granato, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter will be honored by the Avs prior to faceoff as part of the team’s opening night festivities. The following night, the four will be enshrined into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as the Class of 2008 in a ceremony on the campus of the University of Denver.
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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