When the Avs started the season with a 3 game losing streak, it was pretty easy to point the finger at the goaltending, and the goaltending was poor over that span, and it was many pundits most pressing concern in the offseason. Well the goaltending has improved drammatically, and the Avs have gotten worse. We can quibble about every goal and whether it was "soft" or not, but the fact remains, Budaj has played significantly better than he did the first 3-4 games and the Avs are playing a lot worse. Maybe Budaj's early struggles hid some bigger underlying problems with the team.
There's a fine line between making changes for the sake of making changes, and sinking due to your stubborn ways, but after staying with the relatively same lineuhp maybe Granato should enact some changes:
Don't sit Guite unless he's hurt. I don't know what he did to get into TG's doghouse, but he has no business being a healthy scratch when others on the team are suiting up.
Here's a couple general notes: Maybe it's time to call up some Lake Erie kids and give them a shot. We all know how I feel about Tyler Arnason, but the Avs have too many (cliche alert!) muckers and grinders, and not enough people with a scoring touch. There should be one mucker/grinder line and the other one should at least have some offensive talent. Here's who could (and should) get a call-up:
•TJ Hensick has 13 points, in 10 games, for Lake Erie and is second on the team at +5.
•Brian Willsie, who had a great camp, has 10 points in 10 games and is a Lake Erie best +7 (again remember that ± means almost nothing).
To make room for these two we send down McCormick, and admit a mistake (not the Avs strong suit FYI) and send Tucker down, hoping someone claims him off waivers. If not Tucker, then send Jones down to work on his scoring touch a little (even though I think he's been considerably better than Tucker this season) I just don't see what Tucker brings to the Avs that isn't covered by McLeod and Laperriere. Give Arnason that seat in the press box and roll with:
Edit after thinking about it a bit, I agree with DD. The lines look better lke there briefly were in the SJ game:
Smyth - Stastny - Svatos
Wolski- Sakic - Hejduk
Willsie - Hensick - Jones
Lappy - Guite - McLeod.
I honestly have no idea what can be done about defense. One thing that is certain is that the Avs sure miss Kurt Sauer, who may have been a touch slow but was certainly an excellent positional defender and did well tying up his man in front of the net. Tjarnqvist certainly isn't the answer.
Granato appears to be trying to mix an offensive minded defender, with a defensive minded one. I think this is providing mixed results at best. Let's try:
Foote - Hannan
Leopold - Liles
Salei - Clark.
If nothing else we could at least try and have that shut-down pair. Liles has been solid defensively and I think Leo will come around. Clark seems like a more natural fit with Salei anyways.
Goaltending: More polarizing than the election right now, and there's not much that can be done anyways.
Coaching: All the problems that seemed to be presenting themselves early (penalty killing, weak goaltending) have, for the most part, dissipated and in their wake left larger problems. Except that useless third line, that problem still remains. In my opinion the Avs defense consists of puck watching and puck chasing, and not enough sound positional defense. This is the result of coaching mistakes.
Silver lining(s): There's still time to turn this thing around. Many teams get off to slow starts and find a switch that allows them to be good.
• The Avs have always been notoriously slow starters.
• Woitek Wolski has played pretty well
• There was concern about Hejduk, but he's been lights out (to bad we're wasting his hot streak)
Umm, that's about all I can think of.