13 October 2008
The one area the Avs need to shore up is (surprisingly) their defense. In the 4 periods I have watched the Avs play (last period against the Bruins + Edmonton game) the defense has really been atrocious. Sure they aren't giving up a lot of shots mainly because they are dominating play and keeping it on the other side of the rink. When they do give up shots they are giving up very quality chances.
The Avs defense is playing extremely soft right now, allowing Oilers and Bruins to stand within 3 feet of Budaj without even being challenged. That's a recipe for disaster, and is mostly to blame for the Avs 0-2 start.
I am still, surprisingly, not worried about the Avs though. I think the defense is too talented to have a full season of sloppy defense, and the Avs have been pretty unlucky up to this point (did they hit 4 posts or 5 against the Oil?).
That said, it's not time to panic.
Addendum: I posted this at Mile High Hockey in the comments, but thought it was appropriate:
My problem is that the defense seems to be playing a strict zone, and not actually picking up men that come into their zone. If you look at many of the Avs GA, they are from guys who received a nice pass and are uncovered.
EDM: •Penner’s second (the game winner) He was left alone right in front of the net and no one even attempted to clear him out.
• Goal 1: This was a slow motion train-wreck. You could see Horcroff slowly sneak in from near the point, and not one Av even noticed him. To top it off Hemsky was allowed to sit there and set-up his nice pass for a couple seconds. No Av challenged either of them.
•Krejci – On a 3 vs 3 rush all three Avs stayed back and no one took the trailer (Kobesew) who was able to wait and make a nice pass to Krejci, who was alos unmarked because Leoprone was puck-watching and not concerned with putting himself in good defensive position in front of Krejci.
• Ryder: Was left alone in front of the net to beat Buds. Budaj maybe should have made the shot, but had Ryder not been alone he probably would not have been able to go top shelf and palce it where he wanted to.
Even in the Edmonton game Budaj made a couple excellent saves on guys in front of the net who were no where near being covered. (One on Cogliano, that fooled the horn operator, another one on Gillson towards the end of the 2nd, ) Even the second goal by EDM (Budaj’s blunder) he made the blunder because he was trying to take away a pass to Pisani, who was standing to Buds right at the top of the crease, untouched. Still Buds fault, but that doesn’t absolve the Avs defenses mistakes there.
When the Avs did take a man Budaj, low and behold, played better. When Gagne broke in on Budaj early in the second the D-man was able to take away the passer, letting Budaj only worry about Gagne (and make a nice save)
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