Avs mid-season Update
Man has it been hectic! Getting engaged, planning a wedding, moving, and getting a new job! I really want to put the effort for this blog and make it something Avs fans can look at on a regular basis! So in other words, "I'm Back!"
Enough of me though... back to what is important! HOCKEY!
The Avs have been on quite a roller coaster ride this season it it is only going to get more interesting as we get closer to the trade deadline, and a potential playoff run. Let's take a look back at the first half and go over some headlines that jump out on a team that is still trying to find its identity.
This has been the biggest issue for this team and why it isn't yet a show in for a playoff spot, or a bottom feeder many thought it would be from the beginning. One night the team really flies on the ice and dominates any opponent, others it plays terrible teams and some how finds ways to lose the games. They go through stretches where they can't be beaten on the road, but can get a win at home and vice versa. some games the Avs get chance after chance and seem to find luck and get a few goals, other nights they rain backup goaltenders with Puck after puck only to see the reincarnate Patrick Roy standing at the other end. These inconsistencies are the biggest problems that a team can face and the only way I can see if getting fixed is better leadership and coaching.
I have no idea what the locker room for the Avs looks like, or what coach Sacco does behind the scenes, but something has to change! My preference would be Sacco, only because I am sick of his docile look on the bench no matter what happens! I have never seen him so much as yell at anyone, let alone a ref after a terrible call. Players can see a coach stick up for them, and it can make them respect him more as a leader when he does. For example, I was at the recent Avs, Panthers game when an interesting call was made on a goal. After further exploration, I realize there was a loop hole in the rules that allowed the goal, but I thought it was still a terrible play. J.S. Giguere was livid and going after the refs, all Sacco did was sit back and not even care. Even after the period, Giggy went again to the refs by the bench and Sacco had nothing to say. If that had happened to the Rangers, you can bet Tortorella would have been all over the ref. Those kind of coaches spread their passion to their players, Sacco's angle obviously doesn't!
Well, it seems the Avs have some of the worst luck ever when it comes to injuries. Every year down the stretch it seems their is an injury to a star or key player that deflates the team and never allows them to recover. And this year has been no different. The injury to Duchene has been a terrible blow to this team, and to the development of Duchene. Just as he hit his stride and the team started winning, a fluke play turns into a pretty serious knee injury. He has already been sidelined a month, with word today it could be a few more weeks! Not to mention, the story no one talks about, but Avs first rounder from two years ago, Joey Hishon's concussion problems. Hishon was having an amazing year with the Erie Otters last year, until an illegal hit i the Calder cup knocked him out of the playoffs and off the ice since. There is no telling if Hishon will ever recover, and the Avs may never get to see their prized prospect come to play.
But there was good news on a different injury, which brings me to my next headline
The Return of Mueller
The only reason the Avs haven't completely dropped off since Duchene's injury, is the surprising return of Peter Mueller. Mueller has tried coming back from his concussion issues three times before this, missing out on almost two full seasons, but out of no where was reactivated and played in the last several games for the Avs. Not only has he been able to play, but he has found the form the Coyotes saw when he was tabbed as the 8th overall selection. Mueller is leading the team in shots, and goals per games played since returning. It seems each and every night he either has a goal, or a play that should result in a goal if it were not for a great save by the opposing goalie.
With the news about Crosby and his setbacks, it is a feel good story to see Mueller come back and succeed. However it still makes me hold my breath every time he is one the ice and makes any contact with anyone. We will see if he has recovered for good or not, but when Duchene does come back, look for one of the most dangerous top lines with Stastny centering Duchene and Mueller.
Two Goalies are Better than One
The Avs sold the house to get Varlamov in the offseason, and what they have got is a young goaltender who has shown flashes of greatness, as well as times of terrible play. But the big news and yet again another story that has saved the Avs season has been the resurgence of J.S. Giguere. Giggy has found another wind and regained some of his play he had before heading to Toronto(the goalie grave yard). Giguere has helped the Avs when Varlamov has struggled and both goaltenders are helping each other out on a day in day out basis. What was supposed to be a mentor role, has soon turned into a starting job for Giguere. However, it is not looking like such a bad trade after all for the Avs.
Washington has struggled more than most people would have thought when they signed Vokoun for peanuts this offseason, and it may very well end up being that the Caps first rounder is higher than the pick the Avs sent in the other direction for Varly. (Except the recent jump by the Caps) The trade may very well end up looking like a win for the Avs if the pick isn't top 15. My biggest thing that I try to remind people is goalies peak years are around 28-34. Meaning Varly is still a way off from being in his prime, and when Varly has been on, we have seen glimpses of something great. We will see which goalie can step up and lead the Avs on a playoff run.
Trade Deadline looms
With the All-star game over, all eyes turn towards the trade deadline, a second Christmas for hockey fans everywhere, but especially for Avs fans! It seems every year, whether in the playoff hunt or not, the Avs pull a big move. Last year the Avs were clearly out, yet they made one of the biggest deadline moves (a week before the deadline) of the year acquiring McClement and Johnson for Stewart and Shattenkirk. That trade hasn't gotten a winner yet, however with both Stewart's and Johnson's inconsistencies it will be hard to tell. As far as the other pieces, Shatty has played great, and McClement has been a huge surprise for the Avs this year. The big wild card in that trade will be the 11th overall pick the Avs got. If Duncan Siemens can become the player everyone says he is, then the Avs may still win this trade hands down.
So what could the Avs do this deadline? There are a couple of moves that I could really see happen and possibly make a difference. Here is a few players I see in play for the Avs
These are all players I wouldn't be surprised to see leave at the deadline. Stastny I feel is open game, but his contract will most likely eliminate that possibility. The one trade I could see was brought up on another blog I frequent and I certainly believe it could be possible.
Quincy and Jones for Washington's Semin
Quincy is a free agent this summer, and so is Semin, leaving Jones as a potential 30 goal scorer, and a pretty good D-man for Washington. See the trade history from both teams, they could be likely partners. I think it is a win-win for both sides in a trade that I think could be like previous ones, a need for a change in scenery.
But honestly, who knows what the Avs will do. They are one of the better teams when it comes to playing to game of poker known as the deadline, so really anything wouldn't surprise me at this point.
What's on tap
Avs vs Oilers Tuesday January 31st