15 October 2008
In baseball they use the term "gripping the bat too tight" to describe a slump caused by stress and self-doubt. Budaj is gripping something too tight, and he needs to regain the poise and confidence we've seen in him before. It's there. He's capable of it. He just has to do it.
• 5 of the 6 Avs defenders (I'm excluding Liles, for now) should be thankful Budaj's struggling, because the press he's receiving is completely overshadowing their abysmal play. I'd give Budaj a D - D+ grade so far this season. I'd give the Defense an F. A symptom of this is the putrid penalty kill, which is last in the league at the moment.
• Despite having faith that Budaj will bounce back, Raycroft should get the next start in goal. Granato has already said that he will start every 4th game, and this would be game #4. Also the fans are (justifiably) frustrated, and Budaj is taking the brunt of the blame. (For my part I think the 0-3 losses are equal parts coaching goaltending and defense right now). If he's "gripping the stick" right now it doesn't make sense to put him in against Philly on Thursday in front of a frustrated home crowd. After that the Avs have 2 road games, and hopefully he'll find his form in those.
• How good would Brendan Morrison (a decent penalty killer), Michael Peca or Sergei Federov look right now, centering a between Tucker and Svats/McCormick and actually helping on the PK?
• I have been a harsh critic of McLeod, especially last season, but he's starting to mature and learn discretion. His fight of Staios in Edmonton was aptly timed, and his one punch knockdown of Phanuef was enough to warm the cockles of any previously critical Avs fan. If he keeps being a smart pest, he's more than welcome on the Avs.
• Reports of "The duke's" demise have been greatly exaggerated. I think Milan Hejduk has been the Avs best player.
• Liles has been the Avs best defender, on both ends of the ice. He isn't the shutdown defender that Foote is, but he has played strong positionally, and cleared the puck well, IMO. I'm glad the avs re-signed him.
• Hannan has been the worst. He seems to be out of position, and out of synch. Also noteworthy for his ineffectiveness... Clark. I think he's been pretty terrible through three.
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