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Scouting the Enemy: Colorado Avalanche


Record: 21-19-1

Leading scorers: Paul Statsny (10G, 21A), Milan Hedjuk (13G, 17A)

Blogs: Mile High Hockey

Continuing our tour of the Western Conference and hopefully shaking off that horrible, horrible game against Nashville, the Pens settle down in the lovely mountain air for the regular season's lone game against the Colorado Avalanche.  This is an exciting game for me, as it is the one game all year that I go directly at odds with my brother, who heads up the wonderful SB Nation site Mile High Hockey.

So, with all of this, Frank has been nice enough to forego the regular preview and let me throw a bunch of snark around.  That, and neither of us really wants to bring up the Nashville game, so insulting the other team lets us avoid it.  Bear with me.

The Avalanche have been having a frustrating season as well, sitting in the 9th spot of the Western Conference, and have been plagued with the injury bug all season.  Okay, that's not fair - they've been cursed.  80 year veteran Joe Sakic, already out because of his back, almost lost a couple fingers in a freak snow blower accident.  Paul Statsny, the team's top scorer and man-crush target of most the MHH community, is out for forearm surgery.  Veteran defenseman Adam Foote is also out, and leading scrapper Ian Laperriere has been missing as well.  I could keep going.

Then there's the goalie situation over there.  If Joe unleashes his goons troops upon our thread, you may notice icons that say "I support Peter Budaj".  For those not up on the "controversy", no one can seem to agree on who should be the starting goalie in Colorado.  Most of the MHH crew seem to think Budaj is the man, while many  people elsewhere believe backup goalie Andrew Raycroft should take the role, and are subsequently ridiculed for it.  It's a sensitive subject for them, which should be exploited if and when needed.

To his credit, Raycroft blocked a career high 43 shots against the Blackhawks on Thursday.  We won't have to worry about a repeat performance in the likely event he's in goal today, as that would mean the Penguins would have to take 43 shots, so no worries there.

The Avs are coming off of two wins, both 2-1.  All four of these goals came from the first line, so as long as the Penguins decide to play while Wojtek Wolski, Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth are on the ice, they'll be okay.  Actually, there's an excellent probability that one of those three players will have a freak escalator accident before the game, so that may not even be a concern.  In an interesting note, the Avalanche are currently 7-0 on Saturday games.  We here at Pensburgh would like to know how the Avs are getting off on Saturdays - the Penguins are 6-6-3.

So to wrap this up, here are a few pointers you need to know about the Colorado Avalanche:

  • The Avalanche uniforms look like aprons.
  • Raycroft should be the full-time starting goalie.  Budaj sucks.
  • Tyler Arnason is the best player Colorado has.  Hands down.  At least since Karlis Skrastins was traded last season.
  • Darcy Tucker was an excellent off-season acquisition and has been a great asset to the team.
  • Paul Statsny is good, sure, but is he the face of the new NHL?  Is he?
  • Would you like to know who the top 19 Avs of all time are?  Too bad - MHH's list ended at number 6.
  • Jordan Leopold should be hit at any possible time.  Don't worry - he can take it.
  • Snow blowers are a safe and fun way to spend some down time between games.

But to me, this isn't about who's playing, who's injured, and whatnot.  This is about the Penguins beating the Avalanche and me rubbing it in my brother's face.