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Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Marc Crawford
roster: C - Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Stephane Yelle, Jari Kurri. LW - Valeri Kamensky, Rene Corbet, Eric Lacroix. RW - Claude Lemieux, Adam Deadmarsh, Keith Jones, Jeff Odgers, Shean Donovan. D - Sandis Ozolinsh, Sylvain Lefebvre, Uwe Krupp, Adam Foote, Alexei Gusarov, Jon Klemm, Aaron Miller, Eric Messier, Francois Leroux. G - Patrick Roy, Craig Billington.
injuries: Keith Jones, rw (knee, February); Wade Belak, d (shoulder, February).
Western Conference - Pacific Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA Colorado 58 29 13 16 74 172 138 Los Angeles 55 26 20 9 61 161 146 San Jose 56 21 28 7 49 139 152 Edmonton 57 19 28 10 48 141 164 Anaheim 56 19 28 9 47 137 170 Calgary 57 16 30 11 43 149 179 Vancouver 57 16 33 8 40 153 203
1/26 Edmonton W 2-1 OT 1/28 Vancouver W 6-1 1/31 at San Jose L 5-2 2/02 at Vancouver W 2-1 2/05 Chicago W 4-2 2/07 Philadelphia W 3-2
by Greg D’Avis, Colorado Correspondent
After their first three-game losing streak in over two years, the Avalanche finally learned a valuable lesson: if Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Valeri Kamensky don't score, other players have to. The three big guns were all mired in slumps, but unlike other points in the season, second- and third-tier players, most notably Claude Lemieux and Rene Corbet, were stepping up to fill the gaps.
The Avalanche got well the way they always do: against perennial whipping boys Edmonton and Vancouver. After the three-game losing streak, during which they often looked uninterested, the team got a good, hard-fought win against Edmonton, coming back from a third period deficit to tie the game and then win it in OT on an Eric Lacroix goal. Since the move to Colorado, the Oilers have only beaten the Avalanche once during the regular season; about time to start calling it a bye game, huh?
Next up came the lowly Canucks, who rolled over and played dead while the Avs skated circles around them. Lemieux added two more goals, and both Kamensky and Forsberg got well briefly and racked up four points apiece. The only suspense in the game was whether or not Mark Messier and usually-passive Alexei Gusarov would fight at the end; as it turned out, Adam Foote stepped in and nothing happened.
Unfortunately, the Avalanche forgot all their good lessons as they traveled to San Jose. The Sharks dominated, making Colorado look like a junior team in a 5-2 rout, one of the Avalanche's most all-around pathetic performances of the year. Patrick Roy got yanked after giving up four goals, and his teammates didn't do themselves any honor with their listless play.
The road trip continued in Vancouver, with a boring game which seemed to be played entirely in the neutral zone. Sandis Ozolinsh got two goals for the win, exciting all five people who stayed awake through the whole thing.
But the Avalanche returned to Denver for a rarity - an all-out exciting game against the Blackhawks. Sakic and Forsberg starred, each picking up a goal and some assists, to win the game. It was especially good to see considering the drought each player, Sakic in particular, has been in of late.
For the game against Philadelphia, both teams could've been forgiven for looking ahead to the Olympics - it matched up the two teams with the most players going to the Games (Colorado 9, Philadelphia 8). But it was a close, hard-fought game and a big character win for the Avalanche - they dug a hole early and got down 2-0 in the first, but battled back and won 3-2 on a third-period Lacroix goal.
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