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Peering over the shoulder at the Avalanche

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As the summer inches ever closer to some NHL preseason, I thought I'd take a little time to review those other filthy, rotten pillow-biters in our league who want to challenge the Canucks for the Northwest title this year.

(note: I say pillow-biters with the utmost respect.)

So let's start with a team every Vancouver fan simply loves to hate down to the fiber of their being: the Colorado Avalanche.

Forwards
Tyler Arnason, Andrew Brunette, Ben Guite, Milan Hejduk, Jaroslav Hlinka, Matt Hussey, Ian Laperriere, Cody McCormick, Scott Parker, Brad Richardson, Mark Rycroft, Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart, Marek Svatos, Wojtek Wolski
Comments: Well.....shit. For a guy who's had a ticker in the corner of his blog all summer waiting patiently for his team to get a valid, legitimate scorer, putting the Avs forwards together in one sentence is infuriating.

Sakic, Brunette, Stastny, Hejduk, Wolski and Svatos will do plenty of damage for this team. And that's before I even bring up Ryan "fuck the Island" Smyth. Arnason found a pulse last year, Laperriere is effective in his punishing ways and Richardson and Guite are decent plug and play guys. This team has no reason not to put in two to three goals most nights. Ugh. Excuse me while I punch myself in the face.

Defensemen
Johnny Boychuk, Brett Clark, Kyle Cumiskey, Jeff Finger, Scott Hannan, Jordan Leopold, John-Michael Liles, Kurt Sauer, Karlis Skrastins.
Comments: Thankfully, the Colorado defense is not as deep as the front. Hannan is certainly a rock and will be a fan favorite in Denver in about four seconds, but Leopold and Liles had a host of injuries last year. Clark was solid, but question marks remain with Sauer and Skrastins. If the injury bugs sweeps through their defense again this year, the forwards will need to score two-three a night.

Goalies
Peter Budaj, Jose Theodore
Comments: 2002 must feel like an eon ago for poor Jose. I'm not sure what the locals feel about Theodore, but maybe it's a bit like Vancouver felt about Bertuzzi a few years ago: something like "Ahhh, come on, so he's a shell of his former self, he can still bounce back!". Good luck with that. Budaj was their horse last year, but if he stumbles, then those forwards will need to score four-five a night.

Conclusion

First, be sure and click here to get your laugh on.

OK, with that out of the way, the Avs arguably upgraded this summer far better then almost any team (including the revolting Rangers who we'll be ignoring). Smyth and Sakic and pick any other winger and you really, really don't want to go a man down on this team too often, I don't care who's in net. The defense is decent, but the true weakness is in obviously in net. If Budaj can carry the water most of the year, this team has no right not making the playoffs again and challenging for the division title. As a Canucks fan, I can only hope the defense crumbles and the goalies resort to sucking...otherwise the Avs will be a force no matter which way you view it.