Colorado Avalanche (28-34-1, 26th) at New York Islanders (19-36-7, 30th)
7 p.m. | Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum | Versus(!)
Avs blog central: Mile High Hockey (SBN)
Island of Snow: Hello there. Come in! It's snowy, but this is a charming cabin. So how you doin'?
No Man is an Avalanche: Been better. Yeah ... been way better.
Dude, I know the feeling. Really. At least a few of your ring-bearers still play though.
>>I guess. ... Hey, you wanna buy somethin'?
Huh? Oh, no ... sorry. I'm actually here to sell stuff myself. Doin' that for a while now. Tonight's game is sort of a distraction, to tell you the truth. Risk of injury to the salvageable parts and all that.
>>Not even this #94 guy you bought before? I figure you might need to buy some vets, seeing as how courting them on the open market isn't your thing. No offense.
Huh? Yeah, but no. We're really ... we're doing something else here. Sorta tearing down and building back up. You know when #94 left like that, it got us thinking about things. We're just different now. A new leaf. It took a while to realize it, but now we're in a multi-step program. Step 1 is the hardest. Oh wait, I see you do know.
>>Oh. Mmmkay. Well, it's true, sometimes reunions don't work out like you dreamed. But I mean, we have lotsa other stuff to sell. I just thought you might at least want to make an offer. You should really look around.
Nah. But thanks. We really just want to sell whatever we can. ... So, this means we still have to play a game tonight though, right?
>>'Fraid so. Afraid so.
[Note: It's 15th VERSUS 15th! Ooooon VERSUS! Actual game-related notes after the jump...]
The Islanders have surprisingly called up Jesse Joensuu (Always wondered: How does a Finn get a Southern given name like that? Is a Rosco P. Toimuunnenen next?
With Bill Guerin in exile (hey ... he really was exiled, get it?), Joensuu is the newest power forward-in-waiting. In goal ... dare Scott Gordon go with the hot Yann Danis again, after his two consecutive home shutouts? Keep doing this, and sooner or later you're talking about 29th place. No point hanging in the basement all year just to spoil it in garbage time.
And what happens if the deal(s) fall through, and Guerin stick around? Well, aside from the league piling on Garth Snow once again, Greg Logan suggests the vets will be determined to prove their worth:
The point is that all veterans produced four scoring plays that allowed the Isles to overcome two-goal deficits twice in the same game. Just because some players might have disagreements with the coach doesn't mean they're going to check their professional pride at the door.
On the contrary, they're going to go out and play as hard as they can to prove their point to the boss.
That's fine and dandy, but when the locker room critics are all anonymous, it's difficult to evaluate who is "proving a point" and who is just playing the damned game of hockey like they're paid millions of dollars to do. Mark Streit, cited in Logan's example of veterans creating plays, should have no complaints -- he's been even keel and a minute-munching star all season. Dean McAmmond, also cited in the "scoring plays" segment, just got here. Jon Sim has certainly had reason to gripe, given all his health scratches -- but does he provide something that's worth giving him minutes over a young forward? As several have mentioned, if the injured Doug Weight has complaints, they'd contradict the praise he's given Gordon this season, as the coach has effectively enabled him to resurrect the coda of his career.
Avalanche: Ranger Meat
If you didn't follow the "afraid so" link at the end of our little intro skit, the Avs were smoked 6-1 at the Garden last night. I know -- busting the Rangers' slump is reason enough to be angry at them, for sure. While season success is out of the question with the Avs last in the West, I imagine pride would inspire them to rebound juuuuust a tad against a bloodied opponent like the Islanders. Add the snowstorm on a Monday night, and who knows how many fans will make it to the Coliseum to make it hostile.
5-on-5: Progress as Promised
You know how the Islanders were monstrously bad 5-on-5 earlier in the season? Well, their numbers still are bad (0.66 GF/A per game), but they've improved quite a bit since then (0.46), likely a testament to Gordon's Brendan Witt-inspired defensive adjustments. The Avs rank just two spots above them, 5-on-5, though their figure is a full .15 higher (0.81).
The equalizer? The Avs' power play (16.3%, 23rd) and penalty kill (79.2%, 25th) both rate lower than the Islanders' (PP: 16.8%, 20th; PK: 82.5%, 11th). The Islanders power play still isn't as great without Weight -- Kyle Okposo being "rushed into a prominent role" on the point instead. But that's okay. We're here to learn.
As I've whined in the last several posts, this flu bug is a wonderful instant weight-loss program, but not good for much else. So I don't know if I'll be coherent or conscious for the game. Last night I dreamt my house was struck by lightning and woke up surprised to find the deck still standing. Flu delirium will do that to ya'.