Monday Musings on the Avs, Bruins, and More


Written on 10/19/2009 by Jim Cerny

As we turn the corner and head into the third full week of the 2009-10 season, I realize that I have put the whammy already on quite a few individuals and teams.

First I pick Vancouver as my Western Conference team this season, and they proceed to stumble out of the gate at 3-4-0, surrendering bad goals at an alarming rate despite having, arguably, the best goaltender in the league.

Then I hail Carey Price in another Rink Rap entry for his monster effort in an Opening Night shootout victory, only to see his goals-against skyrocket to 3.36 and his save percentage shrink to .886 over the first two weeks of the season as his Canadiens are currently mired in a five-game losing skid.

My run continued by writing about how good I believe the LA Kings will be this season, right as they are in the midst of a three-game slide. I am standing behind this belief, though. The Kings are going to be just fine, and they will be one of the eight teams coming out of the West in the spring.

Unless I just put the whammy on them by saying that, of course.

To my credit, not all of my entries have brought doom and gloom to those being written about. The Rangers are still rolling at 7-1-0, and the teenagers---John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and Michael Del Zotto---I featured in another piece are still all contributing nicely to their respective clubs.

In fact, Duchene and O'Reilly have played major roles to the fast start the Colorado Avalanche have enjoyed this year. Duchene recored his first NHL point---an assist---in his NHL debut, and netted his first goal on Saturday night in a win over the Red Wings.

Duchene, the 18 year-old 3rd overall pick by the Avs in June's draft, has notched three points in his last four games, and is 1-3-4 overall to date. He is one of the many nice stories on an Avalanche squad that has shocked most by starting the season on a 6-1-1 run, best in the Northwest Division.

Not surprisingly, Adrien Dater at the Denver Post is reporting that Duchene is not going to be returned to his major junior club in Brampton and  instead will remain in Colorado all season. He is playing on the second line, receiving plenty of power play time, and has logged some major minutes already this season. Duchene is a fixture this year, and for many years to come.

O'Reilly, the Avs 18 year-old second round pick this past June, has also played well, but whether or not he remains with the big club is still a question mark. O'Reilly netted his first NHL goal last week against the Canadiens---and it was big one as it tied the contest. He is also riding a four-game point-scoring streak, and has outproduced Duchene, so far, with 1-5-6 numbers.

It's very rare to see an NHL club carry one 18 year-old on the roster, much less two. But the Avs might just break that mold this season.

Heck, what's another surprise for a team that lacks star power, but which has been terrific in all three zones of play so far this season en-route to a fast start out of the gate? The Avs may not have gotten the high-profile coach they wanted this past summer in Patrick Roy, but give Joe Sacco---the man who did eventually get the nod---a lot of credit for having this team prepared to outwork the opposition on a nightly basis.

And let's not forget goaltender Craig Anderson, who right now ranks up there with the Rangers' Marian Gaborik as the best free-agent pick up this past summer. After two seasons splitting time and playing well for the Florida Panthers, Anderson has established himself as the Avs true No. 1 netminder, starting all eight games this season and posting a 2.09 goals-against average. The question will be how he holds up over the long haul. Last year's 31 appearances are the most he has ever made in a single season.

Great start, and a great story, so far in Colorado.

A few other musings on this Monday morning:

*You must check out the 100 facts to know about the first 100 games over at Greg Inglis, who has long worked on the PR side with the league did a fantastic job compiling this list, which is just awesome reading if you are a hockey junkie.

*I am very curious to see the San Jose Sharks in person this evening. Having followed them online, and seen them a couple of times in action on the tube, I want to study their chemistry in person. Only 4-3-1 to start the season, the Sharks have so much talent, and I am waiting for it to fully jell.

*Similar to the news about Matt Duchene, it is not surprising that Rangers head coach John Tortorella told me yesterday that 19 year-old defenseman Michael Del Zotto (3-5-8 in 8 games) is not returning to junior this year. In fact, Torts said it was never a question in his mind that Del Zotto would spend the whole season on Broadway.

*Funny moment yesterday when Larry Brooks of The New York Post jokingly said to Tortorella, "I guess this means you won't let Del Zotto play for Canada at the World Juniors?" Torts' response: "Uh," Of course, Canada has bypassed Del Zotto each of the last two year's anyway...

*Keep an eye on the Bruins. They picked up another second round pick in yesterday's deal that sent Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota. They now have multiple first and second round picks. Kind of makes it easier to swing a bigger deal down the road, doesn't it? The only hitch is cap space. Trading Kobasew saved some money, but the Bruins would need to shed more if they have any plans to land a needed big-time scorer at some point.

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