I don’t know where Anthrax Jones (@AnthraxJones) crawled out of. I rue the day I found out. But he’s a part of the scene now. So let’s all swallow hard and get through this together…
Half-decent start for the Avs so far, and it’s not even because of great goaltending or some other goof. What’s impressed you so far?
It’s hard to explain exactly how it comes across, but they seem like a more mature, level-headed team. Two games into the season, they had twice faced an early 2-0 deficit in each game, which would’ve meant Dead And Buried last season. They didn’t panic, they didn’t play like their hair was on fire, they chipped away and eventually won both games (against Dallas and at Pittsburgh, so not exactly schlub teams). It makes me wonder if, despite Patrick Roy’s mostly even-tempered demeanor during his tenure, they were a team playing tight because they were afraid of or intimidated by their coach.
First impressions of Jared Bednar, your new coach?
I’m not sure I have one, at least not yet. He came to the team with a reputation of being a strong systems coach, and it’s still too early on to see exactly how that’s going to manifest itself with this group. You see things here and there though, where you can tell there’s a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing. They have a stronger group of puck-carrying defensemen than they’ve had in the recent past, and Bednar seems to prefer his defensemen carry the puck up ice rather than looking for cherry-picking forwards darting through the neutral zone like Roy preferred. Bednar has won championships at every level he’s coached at, so it’s not like he’s walking in off the street like Tony Granato did 13 years ago. Cautious optimism!
Patrick Wiercioch never really put it together in Ottawa, even though he was always threatening to. What have you seen so far from him on the blue line?
I always liked what I saw from WEIRD COCK in the limited number of times I saw him in Ottawa (which amounts to like 3 minutes of a Senators/Panthers game I saw by accident one time while I was looking for my TV remote). He’s not a guy I want to see out there defending a lead late in a game, because he doesn’t seem like he has much in the way of defensive acumen (or physical strength, or high-end skating ability), but as a decent 5-6 guy who doesn’t look out of place on a power play unit, I like him. Also, Wiercioch is on the ice literally right this second killing a penalty against Nashville, so scratch what I said about Bednar possibly knowing what he’s doing. I’m screaming inside.
Matt Duchene has spent most of the season playing with Carl Soderberg. Is he now a full-time winger? Is that the best use?
I think we will see Duchene on the wing periodically, if there are injuries to spot-fill or if it’s time to load up a Landeskog-MacKinnon-Duchene unit out of need late in a game. Duchene starting on the wing had more to do with an injury to our Large Finnish Son Mikko Rantanen than anything else. With Rantanen back, Duchene has been back at center, and he’s been far and away our best player since he went back. Just in time to MURDERKILL the Hawks, as he does from time to time.
Is it going to kill you when the Avs trade Jarome Iginla to the Hawks in February?
No more than it killed you to trade Teuvo to Carolina for… no idea who you got. Shane Willis?