02 December 2008
While last night's game against the Wild was a pretty sloppy affair (Avs were sloppy in special teams, Wild were sloppy in their own zone) it did highlight the best that hockey has to offer. A team clinging to a one goal lead with 5 minutes remaining. There isn't a more exciting time in any sport outside of the NHL playoffs. It's truly a fantastic sight to behold.
Last night I got to watch two, as the Avs clung to a 1-goal lead against the Wild. I had to laugh when the horn sounded and Peter Budaj, who wasn't especially sharp at all, just stood up and let the Wild player put the puck in the net right after the whistle. It made me laugh, but it was also nice to see a bit of arrogance from him on an off night. Earlier in the season a game like last night (which also featured a completely ludicrous "goal" as Burns decided to plow Budaj over to put the puck in the net off his own skate.) would have been enough to shake his confidence, and possibly the team's confidence in him. So for him to show a bit of a cocky edge is an encouraging sing that it was a bad game, and not the beginning of a slump.
After the Avs games I flipped over to the Leafs come from behind win over the Kings (which is good because it actually helps the Avs. the last 5 minutes of that game were tremendous as well. I saw a Jeff Finger Breakaway (seriously I couldn't make that up if I wanted to) which he missed. A furious Kings rally that ended when Jeff Finger put home an empty net goal. It was a boring game until the third, but the last 5 minutes were truly special.
Hey here's more good news. The Avs have been awful so far this season and have looked like a team more likely to compete for the John Tavares cup rather than Stanley's, but as of the win last night they are 2 points away from the 8th seed, and a regulation win against Nashville Thursday will put them in a tie for eighth. Don't look now but the Avs are only 6 points behind the Canucks for the NW division lead. If the Avs can play an extended stretch of good hockey we could see them leading the division in no time.
Another happy thought... Tyler Arnason hasn't been completely awful for the last 5 games or so. Even before getting some assists last week he was giving good effort and looking utterly ok in the previous games. IF he can play this way for long extended stretches I don't mind having him in the lineup, and since this is a happy post I'll even bite my tongue and not display my cynicism. It's blatantly obvious he pairs better with Wolski and Svatos than he does with Tucker, McLeod, Lappy, and Jones.
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