Fast and Loose - Avs vs Hawks Preview, Pregame Thread, Tax Hike
In watching the Avalanche both against the Hawks as well as against other teams this year, I think that tonight's headline is especially appropriate (it's Motörhead, for the record). Even without having Chris Stewart for the majority of the year, the Avs are putting in 3.3 goals a game (good for 4th in the league), and have the 9th best power play at 20.1 percent. But those numbers come at the deficit of defense, as they're 29th in both goals allowed and penalty kill at 3.2 and 76.4 respectively. It's a young team, stocked with primo talent that can motor, and it starts with newly minted All-Star Matt Duchene. Duchene leads the team in goals, assists, and points at 18G-25A-43P, and is coming off a three point night against Scum, a game the Avs won 5-4, and were moving up and down the ice at breakneck speeds. Along with linemate and Pro-Activ case study Paul Stastny, the Avs forward corps has given the Hawks fits this year, most recently when Thomas Fleischmann freaked the fuck off in the third period, and sealed the fate of yet another Hawks loss last month. On the blue line John-Michael Liles has cooled a bit after putting up Norris caliber numbers in the first third of the campaign, but is still not to be trifled with, though their d-corps might take a slight hit tonight, as breakout rookie Kevin Shattenkirk is a game-time decision. In net for Colorado will be Peter Budaj, whose numbers, while comparable to Craig Anderson's, is less likely to steal a game on his own than Andy (of course, now that I wrote that, he'll have a 50 save shut out).
As for our Men of Four Feathers, tonight is another key game in their current 4-game homestand, as points in the coming months will be coming primarily away from the West Side, not to mention the pride factor of not getting swept in the season series by the speedy Avs. In a borderline shocking turn of events, the Hawks will again trot out the same lineup they have for the previous two games, with John Scott and Nick Boynton again sitting out. But of course, there's a catch, as tonight will be Nick Leddy's 9th game in the show, the last of which before the first year of his contract is activated, so enjoy him while you can. He'll be in front of Corey Crawford, who has quietly crept into the top 5 in the league in goals against at 2.23. Crow hasn't had a standout performance yet against Colorado, and he may need to for the Hawks to grab two points tonight. Having the skaters in front of him not allow passes from behind the goal line to men alone in the slot would also be a nice change of pace, as would angling Colorado forwards to the outside. Get your salve ready for windburn, kids, this one's going to move fast. Let's go Hawks.