1. Where the fuck are we? And where the fuck are we going?
Okay, when even the scrupulously positive Jay Vean admits "I'm just trying to get excited about something besides Duchene", it's time to admit it:
We're 51 games into an 82-game season. The team is what it is; the season is what it is. The defense isn't very good, the goaltending is sub-par, and the team seems to be addicted to giving up quick goals, particularly against trap teams.
I think there's some hope. Stewart put up a goal and an assist last night. And his size and physical game help compensate for the small, soft defense. If he plays the way he did before breaking his hand, the team might stay in playoff contention.
But what "playoff contention" means for this squad? Is maybe--maybe--winning two home games against the number-one seed. Which is going to be Vancouver, against whom the Avs have gone 1-3-1 on the year. So good luck with that.
No, as Jibblescribbits argued yesterday, the defense is not good, but that can't be fixed this year. It's a personnel issue, and top-tier Dmen are in short, short supply. I hate to argue this, but the Avs have to stay the course this year, run & gun, try to outscore everybody, add what I hope will be a lottery pick, and keep building...for next year.
2. Where the fuck are we going? And how the fuck did we get here?
Well, again, my recipe is to try to outscore everybody with whatever forwards are still standing. Injuries have crushed the forwards on this squad, but everybody who's played has put up numbers. Milan Hejduk has been spectacular, putting up the third-best points-per-game numbers of his 12-year career. I particularly like that his best games have frequently come in the team's worst outings--like last night. When the young kids don't show up, Hejduk seems to be there to put in a good night's work. Which I very much wish I could say about Stastny.
This season has been so particularly frustrating because, I argue, of two uniquely frustrating trades:
Wolski for Mueller
Hannan for Fleischmann1.
Now, Wolski has been poor for Phoenix and the Rangers, and is now on his third team in two seasons, having been traded in each of those seasons. He's apparently turning into a guy who's just attractive enough to trade for, but not valuable enough to keep. So this shouldn't count as much of a loss--except that Mueller hasn't played a single game this year. And that's been quite a lack, because he had been penciled in as a top-six forward. Which, I think, forced the other trade, for Fleischmann.
This move became necessary because forward after forward had gone down and the Avs had to do something to indicate they hadn't given up on the season. I understand the move, and I think Fleischmann was superb for the Avs--8-13-21 in 22 games, with excellent chemistry with Duchene & Hejduk--but now he's lost for the season, and the Avs are desperately in need of a solid defensive Dman with some physicality to his game.
Which is to say they are desperately in need of a Scott Hannan type player.
But they're not going to find one by the trade deadline--and in any case, this year is pretty much done. The die is cast. It's time to sit back and watch some smallish guys fly around and score lots of goals...and give up lots of goals.
--Collision, hoping to get a little more playing time down the stretch
1I'm not touching Cohen for Hunwick. I don't want to turn into a #blamehunwick guy, but 3 points and a -9 in 25 games isn't something I'm interested in trying to defend.