Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Theodore's redemption

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.


At 3:41 p.m., April 11, 2006, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

Naw, even if Theodore doesn't play well in those games, it won't hurt his career or Lacroix's. At least, not yet.

They'll both write it off to his injury and lack of playing time or Theodore's continuing struggle with new equipment or whatever.

It'll be how Theodore plays next season that could very well determines his and Lacroix's future.

At 4:17 p.m., April 11, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The Avalanche faithful will go beserk if the team misses the playoffs because of Theodore's poor play; I can't imagine what it'd be like trying to convince them he was their goalie for the next season.

At 6:55 p.m., April 11, 2006, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

True, but since when did general managers listen to fans?

Trust me, Theodore and Lacroix will trot out the excuses, and Lacroix will spend the summer telling everyone to look long term.

At 6:56 p.m., April 11, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

All I know is that both have their fingers and toes crossed that Theodore shines in these last four games.

At 7:16 p.m., April 11, 2006, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

Oh, I don't doubt that, James. I just don't see these games as career breakers for either guy.

And I should clarify my previous comments. I mean Theodore and Lacroix will hit the spin cycle if Jose struggles in these upcoming games and it costs the Avs a playoff berth.

At 11:32 p.m., April 11, 2006, Anonymous Shane Giroux said...

Well, I haven't seen the highlights yet but going from 6-0 to a 6-4 win...yikes!

At 12:06 a.m., April 12, 2006, Anonymous Jim L said...

I haven't seen the highlights either, but 4 GA on 25 SOG equals .840 save percentage ...


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