Chicago Versus Colorado

----- -----------Correspondent IJanuary 30, 2008










Welcome to the Post-Game Report. Watching this game has been slightly more entertaining than others. On one hand, you have Colorado goalie Jose Theodore, who is 12-12 so far overall but entered play on a nice 10-game winning streak.

Colorado was holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference while Chicago trailed as a few spots out. This was a big game for both teams, and it started with Chicago pressing early in the first. The first 5 minutes of the game Chicago would be clearly the decisively better team. 

The question is with all the injuries Colorado has suffered to the likes of Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny, does the Avalanche have what it takes to make the playoffs? I believe so after Theodore's playing effort in the past 10 games, a stretch in which he has only allowed five power-play goals. 

Ryan Smyth will return to play in a month, Statsny within a week, and Sakic will return sometime in between.  The question remains, will Theodore stay on his game long enough for Colorado to hold on to a playoff-contending spot until its star forwards can return to contribute?

Joseph Clark had a nice wrap around attempt which I thought might slip by Nikolai Khabibulin, but the Blackhawks goaltender smothered it as if it where a fire in the forest. At 5:49 into the first, the shots on goal didn't

reflect chances and opportunities between missed shots and errant passes. 

At 9:13 in the first, the first blood was taken by Colorado. On a nicely-executed give-and-go between T.J.  Hensick and Milan Hejduk, Hejduk came in from behind to score on a wrister.

And just like that it turned 2-0 on a play that seemed harmless. Marek Svatos brought it in and dodged a check to make a nice pass to Tyler Arnason, who chipped it to Wojtek Wolski who chipped it in as a deflection past Khabibulin to make it 2-0 at 11:30 of the 1st period as Chicago's netminder seemed to be breaking down sooner than you can spell his name.

As the first dragged on it seemed that Chicago was breaking down slowly. Colorado had constant control of the puck at the 6:00 mark. Near the end of the first period, Colorado's Brad Richardson received credit for a goal.

After only 20 minutes of play, Chicago found itself down by three after Khabibulin let in three-out-of 12 shots. At the end of the period, the shots on goal reflected the effort of each team; Chicago 5, Colorado 12. Score 3-0 in favor of the heavy-hitting, hard-trying Avalanche.  

Enter the second period. Chicago had early scoring chances but Theodore played well and the Avalanche defense backed him up. This clearly shows Colorado's ability to at least manage without its big stars.  Our first penalty came at :59 into the second.

This provided a good test for Colorado's 13 percent power-play percentage and a prime opportunity to take advantage to bring up those statistics. Colorado's inability to convert on the powerplay shows it needs work on its special plays unit.

Shortly after the penality expired Robert Lang converted to put Chicago on the scoreboard a 3:15 into the second. Lang put it right between the five-hole of Theodore to gain some momentum for Chicago.

Almost halfway through the second not one registered shot on goal appeared for Colorado, which clearly shows a second wind for Chicago. Midway through the second Khabibulin made quite possibly the nicest save of the game, in a tic-tac-toe play resulting in John Michael Liles taking a shot at a wide open nite and Khabibulin sliding across to get his hand in the way of the shot.

The second power play belonged to Colorado and it converted with exactly 8:00 left in the second to make it 4-1 in favor of Colorado. Hedjuk made a nice pass to Andrew Brunette who made a nice clapper past Khabibulin.

Chicago next went on the powerplay as Ian Laperriere went off for slashing to give Chicago its first power play. Colorado had a very decent short-handed chance but Khabibulin came up big to make a save and keep it 4-1. Colorado seemed to have picked up its play in the second after leaning back with a good first. A second powerplay for Chicago occurs and it surely tried to capitalize on it, but they couldn't. Shots on goal after two periods had Chicago with 11, and Colorado with 21.

Enter the third period. With each minute passing-by, it appeared more-and-more that Chicago had no hope in this game. A delayed penalty is called and Colorado went on the power play. Colorado scored with less than 30 seconds left on the powerplay.

Arnason scored on a rebound where Khabibulin was not able to recover from, making it a 5-1 game. 

When it comes down to it, Chicago cannot expect to win games with a mere 11 shots on goal halfway through the third, and so far with the exception of 10 minutes in the second period, this game has been an avalanche of a catastrophe.

And then at 6:04, to add salt into the wound, Svatos scored to make it 6-1 with a play by Arnason which was started by himself by his own with a dangle and avoiding a check for a give-and-go and an amazing shot to beat Khabibulin for his second of the night.  The goal, assisted by Arnason and Wolski, was a typical superb goal you would expect from the Avalanche, it is Svatos' second of the night. Jose Theodore thus far turned aside 11/12 shots to keep his team with a five- goal lead, the score being 6-1.

Yanick Perrault found the five hole on Budaj after being replaced by Jose Theodore for a needed rest as he complains for back spams and his talent isn't needed on the 13th shot of the game. The goal by Perrault was unassisted to make it 6-2.

Call this game done the second Colorado had a 3-0 lead in the first, the final score 6-3 in favor of Colorado, with 30 shots for Colorado and an dismal 15 for Chicago. What to expect from Chicago before the trade deadline is anyone's guess as the Blackhawks make a last desperate run for a playoff spot. As for Colorado, with the return of its veterans, you can expect no dumps but only pickups. Watch to see if it makes a move on big names such as Mats Sundin.

Chicago has to consider its trade propects; Martin Havlat, Robert Lang; these are people Chicago

can deal to work on it's prospects and youth. Havlat's problem is that he makes too much money at 6 million dollars per year.  Chicago made big strides forward by playing 13 different rookies so far this year.

Would Chicago be willing to trade Khabibulin? I doubt it, he has won a stanley cup and can carry a  team into the playoffs despite his performance this year for the Blackhawks. So what can the Blackhawks get for Havlat? Dispite his huge contact, many NHL playoff contenders would be willing to trade prospects and draft picks for this superstar-goal scorer who can thrive on any team on a first line.

The question is, can they find a team within the trade dealine to take the bait and trade a significant ammount for this star to make a cup run? In the meantime, Colorado seems to be fueled by the recent performance of Jose Theodore and his past 10 games (this is his 11th performance) and keeps Colorado in playoff contention.

Reported by Elie Aintabi, comments welcomed.