Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's hard to have an Avalanche when it's 70 degrees outside

Despite the spring-like heat and the total lack of snow on the ground, an Avalanche will be found in DC as Colorado visits the Caps for the first time in almost five years (thanks to the idiotic and soon to be scrapped unbalanced schedule). Perhaps its fitting that under such poor snow conditions the Avs come in hobbled.

With all-universe talent and surefire hall-of-famer Joe Sakic and garbage goal scorer extraordinaire Ryan Smyth both out with injuries, the Avs scoring burden will fall to sophomore sensation Paul Stastny (he of the ridiculously talent-laden Stastny family) and Milan "it's pronounced hey-dook, idiot" Hedjuk. Both players will look to feast upon a Caps defense that again will be missing two of its top four defensemen in Tom Poti and Brian Pothier. Coming off a 1-0 loss against their archrivals in Detroit, expect the Avs to ratchet up the forecheck in order to press the Caps remaining d-men and try to force turnovers in the offensive zone.

For the Caps, the key to the game will be to jump on Colorado early and wear the Avs down with a physical forecheck, and to play the puck quickly out of their own end. With the exception of wunderkid Mike Green, the Caps current defensive corps is not strong at playing the puck, so moving the puck out of danger quickly (without chucking it into the stands for a delay of game call) will be a tall order for them.

In the offensive zone, it's a night to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Neither Peter Budaj nor Jose Theodore is reminding anyone in Colorado of Patrick Roy these days, so expect at least a 7 shot night from the Russian Machine (and hopefully at least 5 from the once-again-returning-from-injury Alex Semin). If the Caps resist getting too cute with posession of the puck and simply pour on the pressure, they should be able to down the Avs to the tune of 5-3. If not, expect a low scoring affair that goes to a shootout.

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