Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Today is Columbus Day here in the US (Thanksgiving for our Canadian friends) and you know what that means: It's time for the media to drum an underperforming franchise out of the League.
For those of you, knowing Dater's credentials as a certified member in good standing of the Avs Media Pom-Pom Crew, that don't want to click the link and read this painfully rote article (I don't blame you), he asserts that "the Predators should get the heck out of the NHL" because they drew just under 15,000 fans last week -- roughly 2,000 less than capacity -- for the team's home opener against Colorado.
Without a hint of irony.
(Coming Up:Detroit's Afrogator yo-yo; The Disappearing Filatov; brutality in Philly; Cam Janssen's(notes) goon confession; Lamoriello's evil genius in Shanahan dumping; Ryan Malone(notes) somehow scores a hat-trick; and how to turn the Leafs into winners with four simple trades that will never happen.)
Dater goes on to say that the Preds struggle to sell out their games and have for a while. And, he notes, even though the Avs only moved 13,000 tickets -- a full 5,000 below capacity, but, Dater assures us, that is almost certainly due to the economy -- for a game last week, this is irrelevant to the argument because, get this, the Avs have the longest sellout streak in NHL history at 487 games. That would be all well and good if it hadn't ended in 2006.
Since that time, Colorado's average attendance has slipped from 18,007 that year to 17,612 in 2006-07, to 16,842 in 2007-08, and then just 15,429 last season, 26th in the league. That number, incidentally, is somehow worlds better than Nashville's 27th-place finish at 15,010 -- just 419 seats per game below the Avs.
And if that wasn't damning enough, Nashville's percentage of tickets sold last season was 87.5. Colorado's? Just 85.7.
"A team," Dater says, "can only do so much to draw fans." Like, I imagine, retiring Joe Sakic's(notes) number and deservedly banging out the Pepsi Center on a Thursday, then having attendance plummet just under 4,600 (to 13,416) for a game two days later.
Even with a full sell-out, the Avs' two home games have averaged 15,712 people. That's with the draw of an opening night game against a great team like the Sharks (plus the allure Sakic Night) and the also-good Canucks.
The only home game the Preds have to go by is a game against the Avalanche, and, as Dater asks rhetorically, "Would you want to watch the Avalanche play right now?" Judging by the stats, the answer, even in Denver, is "no."
The solution is simple: Contract Colorado.
I mean, if you really want to start pointing fingers like that, anyway.
Atlanta Thrashers: Good news for the Thrashers is that while they're not getting a lot of shots, they're shooting the lights out. Scoring 10 goals on 50 shots is no small feat. But at the same time, they don't want to be giving up 35 shots a night either. Not with that defense anyway.
Boston Bruins: It's time for one of my favorite hockey traditions: The Bruins' Columbus Day afternoon game. I went to all of these as a kid. Who doesn't love a 1 o'clock game on a Monday?
Calgary Flames: Brent Sutter's new system has the Flames blocking a lot of shots, but in an interesting way. By getting in shooting lanes and using their sticks, forwards are creating discomfort for puck-carrying D-men and forcing them to either shuffle the shot away to a less dangerous area or throw weak wristers at the net that the defensemen can block more easily. That's why Calgary is tied for second in blocked shots league-wide (prior to Sunday's games), dead even with Montreal and behind Pittsburgh.