Stepping up, and down, for the Avs.

Well we're a dozen games in, and the Avs are sitting atop the NW with an 8-4 record and a 4-game winning streak. Hard to complain about anything right now. Going into the season I think every Avs' fan's worst nightmare would be that the goaltenders end up splitting time, because Q can't decide on one. Well even that's happened, but for the wrong reasons, both have actually played well. With the team doing so well, it's hard to single out some players who have been instrumental, but here's a look at some players who, I think, have really played well this season, and possible nicknames for all of them (not including the obvious ones, like Sakic, Smyth, Stastny etc)

Wojtek Wolski: The "other"sophomore on the Avs has been a beats this season, and you could make a legitimate case that he's the Avs MVP of the first dozen games. At the end of last season his numbers trailed off while the Super Frosh (now Soph) Stastny excelled and made a strong case for the Calder. Well due to Stasny'd superb first 5 games or so Wolski finds himself in the shadows again, but make no mistake he has been a very important cog in this Avs machine. He is tied for the team lead with 5 goals, has 5 assists, leads Avs forwards in +/-, and leads the team with 2 Game winning goals.
Possible nickname: The Wizard (of course pronounced Vizard)

Jeff Finger: Another Avs sophomore who has had a very good start to the season. Finger is the kind of defensive man the Avs desperately needed. He's big, he positions himself well, and he will dish out a hit. The Avs have good positional defenders, like Scott Hannan, but Finger is the best at laying the smack down., and they lack when he is out of the lineup. He has played 8 games this season, and the Avs are 6-2 in those games, while they are 2-2 in the games he doesn't play in. Going back to last season The Avs are a total of 21-9 with Finger in the lineup. He is a total of -2 in the 9 losses. Part of that IS coincidental, but not all of it. His stay-at-home physical style has blossomed into the perfect compliment to Jean-Michael Liles, and allows Liles to charge the net and be the creative passer he is. Possible Nickname: "Youngblood" (P.S. In this movie Keeanu Reeves plays a French-Canadian Goalie, and who is the French-Canadian Goalie on the Avs? none other than Theo.. see it works on so many levels)

Marek Svatos: The guy has been great this season, and not only in the offensive end. Coming into this season I thought it was make or break time for him. It wasn't just his time with the Avs on the line, but I really thought his career was on the line. The NHL has a way of getting rid of one-dimensional players who have one good season. Well this season he's come out firing on all cylinders, and he has also picked up some defense to boot. He didn't just play his way onto the team, but has worked himself up to the top line, with Smyth and Sakic. He's also added a dimension to his game, that no one saw coming, and hasn't been a complete defensive liability in his own zone. Give the kid some credit, he came to play this season. Possible Nickname: The Svats Machine

Peter Budaj:
When reading any, and I mean ANY, season preview for the Avs, including yours truly, the big question was goaltending. While national columnists were worried about both Budaj and Theo, Those more familiar with the Avs were more concerned with just Budaj. He played great last season in the Avs run that fell just short, and showed flashes that he could be the number one the Avs need, but in the beginning of the year he was inconsistent and couldn't beat out Theo for the starting job. This season has been more or less a continuation of the end of last season, and Budaj has the confidence of every Avs fan right now. His save on Numilen in the Minnesota game has been the biggest moment so far in this young season, and his play has propelled the Avs into 1st place. Another player on a make-or-break season, and he is making it. Possible nickname: Well this one's easy.. Peter Bu-diddley-aj
Finally, People who read here often are going to be shocked by this next one, but...

Jose Theodore: No he hasn't morphed back into the Roy-hair (hah!) apparent that everyone wanted him to be. But he's been a true professional, and has worked himself back to being a decent goalie who can actually help the Avs win a few games this season. I think if you asked any Avs fan if Theo would play that way at the beginning of the season, they'd take it in a heartbeat. Budaj HAS been better, but Theo has taken all the criticism, and there's been plenty, you jerks, and not said a word. He's let his play do the talking this season and is being rewarded with playing time against the likes of Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby. Possible Nickname: (staying with the Keeanu Reeves theme, the fall from grace, the pretty boy image, the season you were supposed to be lame, but came back and found redemption... Nothing fits better than Shane Falco

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