If you're going to be spinning your NHL Centre Ice dial tonight, make sure it stops on the Colorado-Phoenix game.
It'll be Jose Theodore's first start since Jan. 31, an 8-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in which the then-Canadiens goaltender allowed five goals in the game's first 25 minutes.
When Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix traded his starting netminder, David Aebischer, for the struggling Theodore at the trade deadline, I hated the move — mainly for the risks involved. Tonight, we'll see if those concerns were justified.
Because, if Theodore gets back in the goal and has four solid games, wins a few of them and the Avalanche make the playoffs, all will be well with both the netminder and Lacroix. But, given the way Theodore has played this season — fifth-worst goals-against average (3.46), third-worst save percentage (.881) in the NHL — there's a chance he'll implode, both tonight and down the stretch.
With no back-to-back games remaining on the schedule, Theodore could start the final four games for Colorado.And while Colorado is comfortably in seventh position at the moment, a loss or two may drop them closer to the playoff cutoff. Two of the Avalanche's four remaining games are against Vancouver and Edmonton, two teams desperately trying to catch them in the standings.
Those will be Colorado's biggest games of the year and between the pipes, they'll have a goaltender who has been one of the league's worst. Lacroix won't dare admit his trade-deadline pickup was a mistake, so I don't doubt that, even if Theodore struggles tonight against a non-playoff team, he'll be thown in again.
There will be no shortage of anxiety for Avalanche fans during the next week as Colorado tries to secure a playoff spot.Four points up on Vancouver, it's almost unfathomable the Avalanche could miss the playoffs this season.
Then again, Theodore's been rolling snake eyes all season. And this time, his — and Lacroix's — career may be resting on that roll.
Four games to save your career. Four games for redemption.