Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche photo, plus a mini-Avs preview

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche hockey photo Mike Sasson

My brother Mike sent in a photo of the Avalanche’s 3-0 preseason win over the Dallas Stars Sunday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Ryan Stoa (PP), and Ryan O’Reilly (2) accounted for all 3 goals for the home team as newly acquired goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere recorded a 16-save shutout. Giguere joins former Washington Capital goaltender Semyon Varlamov in net for Colorado after last year’s tandem of Peter Budaj and Brian Elliott were not brought back. Elliot was a somewhat shock addition in a March 2011 trade for highly regarded netminder Craig Anderson. Anderson struggled out of the gates to a 13-17-3 start, but it was a 7-game losing streak that ushered him out of town less than a year after a career 38-win regular season and strong WCQF postseason showing against San Jose. Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman may have overreached trading a 2012 first round draft pick and a conditional 2012 or 2013 second round draft pick to Washington for Varlamov, but locking down reliable goaltending had to be a priority for the start of a rebuilding effort/youth movement.

Several teams in the West took hits, Bryzgalov leaving Phoenix and Brad Richards leaving Dallas were two of the most notable, but the 2010-11 playoff race began in earnest post-All Star Game. If there is a repeat over the second half of 2011-12, there may be too many hurdles for a young Colorado squad to overcome. Adding 6-foot-4, 237-pound defenseman Jan Hejda and ill tempered 6-3, 230-pound Shane O’Brien to 6-foot-4, 232-pound Eric Johnson will greatly improve the stability of the defense in front of Giguere and Varlamov. Scoring will still be at a premium even with the return of Peter Mueller. The Avs will scratch and claw for playoff position, but they may be a year or two out from returning to the mix. The Hockey News 2011 Annual somewhat disagrees, picking Colorado to finish a surprise 9th in the Western Conference, 2nd in the Northwest Division. Stanley Cup odds were listed at 50-1, but with several question marks up front, that may be optimistic.

San Jose sees Colorado for the first time November 20th in Denver, and at home December 15th at HP Pavilion.

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