Two Surprises & Disappointments
Hello Avs fans! It’s been a while since I have written anything because I have been pretty engrossed in my recent infatuation with hockey cards. I’ve neglected this blog since the season began and spending my free time scouring eBay and the Beckett.com message boards for cards to add to my collection. When I wasn’t doing that I was adding cards to Beckett’s trade tool and working on moving cards I don’t want for cards for my collections!
Anyways, since the All-Star break just ended and the Avalanche are getting back on the ice tonight I wanted to take a moment to write about the seasons biggest surprises and disappointments thus far.
The first player that came to mind when I began brainstorming was Ryan O’Reilly. He is having an absolutely amazing season. He is leading the Avalanche in all three scoring categories with 14 goals, 22 assists, and 36 points. He may only have one game winning goal under his belt, but Radar always seems to come through in the clutch.
I can’t even count all the times O’Reilly’s play away from the puck has helped contribute to the Avs taking or eliminating a lead late in games. A goal that really stands out to me is from January 2nd, 2012. The Avs were in Los Angeles and found themselves down by one with under five minutes to play.
O’Reilly picked up a loose puck and made a subtle, but effective move to get into open ice around a defenseman. The move also changed the angle of which he was shooting from and Kings goaltender Jonathon Quick could not adjust quick enough. O’Reilly beat him to tie the game at one forcing overtime. The Avs eventually won the game in a shootout. They never would have had the chance if it wasn’t for O’Reilly.
Hopefully he will pick up where he left off before the All-Star break and help lead this team to a playoff appearance.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been a huge surprise in my book. He was signed in the summer to backup Semyon Varlamov, but has been the better goalie at this stage in the season. I don’t like to rely on stats to prove a point about goaltenders so you can look at those yourself. The reason I don’t bring them up is because both play a different amount of games, face a different amount of shots, and the team in front of them doesn’t play the same from night to night.
I’m basing my opinion on what I have seen from both goaltenders. Giguere appears to be more consistent on a night-to-night basis which is extremely important in this league. He makes the big saves when the team needs them most, and nine times out of ten he doesn’t allow those bad angle/flukey goals that Varlamov does.
With that being said I’m chalking up Varlamov as one of this season’s disappointments.
Varlamov was acquired in a trade from the Washington Capitals this off-season in exchange for a first round pick in the 2012 entry draft. That is a steep price to pay for a somewhat unproven number one goaltender in the National Hockey League. I was on the Varly bandwagon early in the season and still am to a certain extent.
He lacks consistency from game to game, but when he’s on, he’s on. He can step up and make the big save to preserve the win for the team when he’s having a good day. Catch him on an off night and watch out. Bad angle goals, pucks sneaking through the arm and chest, and poor rebound control. I know every goalie has bad nights, myself included, but it seems like Varly has them more often than other goaltenders in the league.
Of course, one could argue that the team in front of him played like crap and left him out to dry which is a very good point. I guess I just feel a little disappointed with his performance this season. If he doesn’t help carry this team to a playoff berth I’ll feel extremely let down.
David Jones has let me down game after game this season. He has only managed to score nine goals through 42 games this season after racking up 27 in the 77 games he appeared in last season. I expected to see him producing more offensively and don’t really have an explanation for why he seems a little off this year. Maybe it has something to do with his marriage over the summer and trying to juggle hockey and married life, but who knows.
Overall, as a team, I have been satisfied with the Avs so far this season. They got bigger on offense and defense as well as more stable between the pipes. They have hit a few rocky patches where it seemed like everything that could go wrong did, but they always bounced back and would go on a tear trying to make up ground that they lost while in the slump.
In my (un)professional opinion the Avs will most likely miss the playoffs again this season which will cause another mini-overhaul of the roster during the off season maybe including Joe Sacco this time.
I’m curious as to who your biggest surprises and disappointments of the season are up to this point. Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org