8 crazy days days and nights of Avs analysis. It's like Chanukah ...without Manischewitz... or presents. Well there's the metaphorical present of getting to read brilliant analysis by some of the brilliant Avs bloggers on the web, but I'm guessing you'd rather have a giftcard to Best Buy or something. Aw well, you just have to settle for the last day of the Avs roundtable... below the pic
Question 8: While the goal is obviously the Stanley Cup, preseason predictions have the Avs anywhere from 14th(!?!) to 3rd in the West. What’s a reasonable goal for the fans to consider the season a success?
Draft Dodger - In the Cheap seats: - You can accuse me of wearing burgundy-tinted glasses if you wish ( Ed Note: Did you get them from Dater?), but I think the Avs will greatly exceed the low expectations most pundits have for them. Health will again be a concern; but the Avalanche have a significant number of players who have had difficulty staying healthy. But they showed last April that they are capable of playing with just about any team.
With a healthy Brett Clark and a full season from Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei, the Avalanche should have their best - and deepest - corps of blueliners since the last Cup win. Up front the team looks to have a versatile blend of skill, grit, youth and experience. And, yes, I do believe that Peter Budaj is going to be an upgrade over Jose Theodore in net. If Tony Granato can find a way to get the most out of this talented team - and that's a big "if" in my book - and if the team doesn't repeat it's stint as a walking M*A*S*H* unit - another big one - I feel there's no reason we can't win the division and go deep in the playoffs. Yes, really.
Joe - Mile High Hockey - A reasonable goal, considering the new faces, the injury risks and the coaching change, is a playoff spot, I think. If the Avs finish six or seventh in the West, I'll be pretty happy. An appearance in the second or third round of the playoffs would be a really nice bonus.
I don't put much stock in pre-season predictions (which is why I never make any of my own) (Ed Note: Bwrawk Brawwk Braaaaawwwk), and I highly doubt the Avs will finish as low as some have predicted. But you never know. Things could go horribly wrong in many ways, or they could go really right. In my mind, the chance that the Avs will have a good season is 50/50. Let's hope for the best.
Jay Vean - Avs Hockey Podcast - Based on this year's team I would say that making the playoffs would make the season a successful one. On the other hand, if this team stays healthy, is playing well (or moving that general direction) at the right time, and has a particular player with the jersey number of 21 on that healthy list as well, there's no telling what may happen this year. I actually have seen one projection that said the Avs would win less than 20 games this season. No way that happens no matter how the team's health goes. That was proven last season. This organization is too proud to have a year like that anytime soon. Being a fan of a team that actually expects great things each and every season definitely makes you feel spoiled! (Ed Note: Dear Leafs fans, HA HA) At any rate, it's Avalanche season and that's always a good thing. Enjoy the season everyone!
Mike - Mile High Hockey: Given that we are in Year 3 of a transition phase from the old guard to the new guard, I think a realistic expectation should be set: the post-season should be the goal. I'm not saying the Avalanche or their fans should settle for that, but they shouldn't expect this team to suddenly do something it hasn't done in a few years: consistently dominate. The Avs aren't in the upper tier of the NHL anymore, but I believe that the current lineup is capable of gelling and propelling (Ed Note: Shel Silversteen... Eat your heart out) this team pretty far, but there is an aspect of all of the planets aligning for that to happen. I don’t expect that to happen, but I don’t think it’s impossible either. To me it boils down to playoffs or bust.
Angelique aka Jori - Avs Prospects - The Avs are not a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, but a playoff birth is certainly within their reach. The Northwest Division is up for grabs, but it’s likely only two teams from this division will make it to the postseason. (Ed Note: Vancouver fans, feel free to make plans in April) So a strong start and good record against division opponents is key. I predict a 7-10 finish for the Avs in the Western Conference.
With teams like Chicago, Columbus, Phoenix and Edmonton showing improvement, the Avs need their star players to stay healthy. Peter Budaj will need to prove to the rest of the league that he’s a legitimate number one goaltender. The Avs have a solid defense and should score their fair share of goals, but they’ll need strong goaltending to solidify a playoff spot.
GEO - The Avslova Factor - A division title, folks. That's right. The Northwest Division title. Doesn't it sound nice? It's a very reasonable goal, considering the teams the Avs have to deal with. Vancouver is a joke and Minnesota has lost some firepower (Ed Note: they had firepower?). It will be a dog fight with the Oilers and Flames to see who comes out as the #3 seed in the West.
That being said, beyond a division title, the playoffs are certainly in sight. Contrary to THN's and Fox Sports's prediction, the Avs are not a second-to-last place team. They're good enough to compete with Chicago, Phoenix, Edmonton, Calgary,and even Anaheim. San Jose, Detroit, and Dallas are the class of the West this year and if you haven't noticed, none of them are in the Northwest (Ed Note: But the NHL has the geography skills of a certain Miss South Carolina.. and such. So we can't be sure)
Here's a barometer for everyone who watches sports. If the team isn't competitive all season long and doesn't come close to making the playoffs, it hasn't been a success. Hopefully, a solid defense, a promising offense, and a questionable duo in goal makes for a successful season.
Justin - The Avalanche Guild - I believe the fans should fully expect the Avalanche to just make the playoffs. Whether they end up in 3rd, 7th or 8th doesn't really matter because the division and conference is so competitive. Everyone knows it's going to be a dog-fight to the very end, so most fans should be able to take a look at the Avs' roster, notice the offensive talent, the defensive depth, and the underrated goaltending in Peter Budaj and see a post-season berth when all is said and done.
Especially if this team stays healthy ::knocks on wood:: (Ed Note: Careful.. that could cause damage to the IKEA furniture) for the majority of the season, there's no reason why fans should expect anything less than this team breaking the 95-point barrier, which is probably what it will take (once again) to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Shane - Avs Talk - The Colorado Avalanche will make the playoffs, contrary to most “predictions”. They will be a competitive team and have as good a shot at the division title as anyone else, except the Vancouver Canucks who have no shot at all.
But I’m going to go above that, I’ll consider this season a success if the Avalanche win a playoff round. I think most fans expect a playoff berth but exceeding expectations is what I truly consider success and I see no reason this team can’t hit that goal.
Like DD, I see no reason this team couldn’t saddle up and head deep into the playoffs. Set your expectation bar a bit higher folks because this year will be better than you think (Ed Note: In other words, Shane's totally prepared for a happy ending).
Dario - In the Cheap Seats - I expect the Avalanche to win the NW division in '08-'09. The Wild lost Demitra and Rolston while adding Brunette. Vancouver lost Naslund and Morrison while adding, well nobody. Edmonton did improve and will be better. Calgary lost Tangauy, Huselius, and Yelle. They are coached by Keenan who's already proven to be a poison. They did add Cammalleri (Ed Note: IT'S A TRAP.. sorry that's Mon Calamari.. please continue) but that won't make up for the forwards they lost. That's a division that is ripe for the taking.
The Avs now get a whole season with Foote and Salei on the back line. The top six defensemen on the Avs can compete with any team in the West. The Avs hopefully get a healthy season out of Stastny, Sakic and Smyth. The Avs also benefit from a regular goalie rotation that they haven't seen since Abby. Look for the Avs to be 3rd in the West. I expect the Avalanche to make it to the WCF. They have the capability to compete if they maintain their health.
Tapeleg - Jersey's and Hockey Love - ... (Ed Note: Tapeleg had an emergency and couldn't be here this evening.. run on Turtle Wax for his dome.)
Me - Here: I's going to go negative here, and say the Avs fail if they miss the playoffs, or seriously get lower than 95 points. Blame will be assessed, onto peter Budaj most likely (frair or not) and Granato (fair or not). A playoff-less springtime could also spell the end of the Francois Giguere era in Denver, so I think a lot is riding on this season. (Ed Note: we might as well bet the bank on it too... not that it's worth anything these days)
But a success? I think the Avs need a NW division title for a success. I see Calgary imploding, Vancouver scoring 20 goals all season, Edmonton is a year away and Minnesota won't win it.
So there it goes Avs fans... are we ready for the season yet? Games start tomorrow