While championships are not won or lost in the preseason, the Avalanche has given fans many reasons to be optimistic about the 2007-08 campaign.
Starting with Paul Stastny’s carry-over from a fantastic rookie season, all the way down the line to the leadership and composure the veterans have shown throughout the preseason, Avs fans know they’ll have plenty to cheer for when the puck officially drops on October 3rd.
If the preseason is any indication, Paul Stastny
will not endure the dreaded “sophomore slump” that many second-year players succumb to.
After finishing third on the Avalanche in scoring last season with 78 points (28g/50a) – which led to runner-up status for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie – Stastny knows that Colorado fans will not only be asking for an encore; they will be expecting an increase in his production with a year of seasoning under his belt.
So far this preseason, he hasn’t disappointed. Through Sunday, Stastny (5g/2a) was tied with Colorado teammate T.J. Hensick (3g/4a) atop the NHL’s scoring charts with seven points.
“I’ve been playing with good players and have found some good chemistry,” said Stastny. “We’re trying to approach the preseason like regular games; trying to tune up so we’re ready to go for the regular season. That’s why every game we’re getting better and better.”
Stastny has shown considerable poise and perhaps a bit of additional speed this season after a summer of hard work. Although he doesn’t skate on a regular basis until late in the summer, Stastny found plenty of other ways to stay in shape. Off-ice training consisting of distance running, soccer and occasional sprints, coupled with slight changes in his diet, has made Stastny even more of a force to be reckoned with.
Along with the experience of playing a full 82-game schedule a season ago, Stastny’s improved conditioning has given him a boost of confidence each time he sets foot on the ice.
“I’m not as nervous as I used to be. I’ll still get nervous before every game once the season starts, but I have more of a sense of confidence this year than I did last year,” said Stastny. “I feel that I’ve gotten a little leaner, a little quicker and a little better since last season, so I’m ready to get going.”
Save Some for a Rainy Day
Tyler Arnason buried his first goal of the preseason against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. If he has it his way, that goal might be his only marker before the regular season.
“It’s always good to start off with a goal,” said Arnason, who was jokingly wary of using up his scoring touch before the regular season. “But I think you also don’t want to get too many in the preseason. One or two will be fine for me.”
This year’s version of the Avalanche is stacked with talented forwards, but Arnason should have no trouble fitting in. He expects to play much the same role as he did a year ago; that of a valuable two-way forward who is vital to the team’s success.
“I think I’ll be able to add some scoring to the third line and work hard not to get scored on,” said Arnason. “Basically the same role I played last year.”
Roster Moves RevisitedHealey and Wall become the 15th and 16th players to be reassigned during training camp. Previously, forwards David Jones, Matt Hussey, Ken Roche, Chris Stewart, J.D. Corbin, Dan DaSilva, Brent Kelly and Victor Oreskovich; defensemen Dale Purinton, Mitch Love, Brandon Straub and Michael Vernace; and goaltender Andrew Penner were reassigned to the AHL camp.
The Avalanche announced on Sunday the reassignment of left wing Eric Healey and goaltender Michael Wall to its American Hockey League affiliate training camp in Cleveland, bringing the current training camp roster to 31.
In addition, the Avalanche previously reassigned Nigel Williams to his junior team, the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
Click here for an updated training camp roster (through 9/24)
Notes: Through Sunday, the Avalanche has posted the best preseason record (3-0-1) in the Northwest Division and currently sits in a tie for the NHL lead with seven points...Jaroslav Hlinka has recorded five assists in four games, tying him for the NHL preseason lead...Stastny leads the league with five goals...Peter Budaj leads the team with a 2.44 goals-against average in 123 minutes of action.