Mar 252002
Authors: Lee Miller

Another weekend, another traveling story. This week I’m coming to you from Vail. I’m not sitting in front of the television watching the tournament, and I’m not lying on the beach or watching meaningless baseball games. No, this week Lee has found a new adventure.

It’s somewhere around 1 a.m. Sunday and I’ve just left Vail Village on foot along the frontage road. This is spring break deuce-double-ought-deuce, part deux. I’m staying at a condo in the most eastern part of Vail, enjoying an all weekend bachelor party being thrown for one of my friends. Tonight we hit the village to get some good food with plans to get smashed at the bars afterward.

My problem is that I got really engrossed in a foosball tournament at one of the bars and misplaced all 15 of my friends. After arguing with a bus driver about where my condo is and getting absolutely nowhere doing it, I decide to hoof it. Yep, all 8.77 miles from the village to the condo in the middle of the night.

Fortunately for me, this gives me about an hour and 45 minutes of time to think about what my next column will be about.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs start in nearly three weeks, and it is once again that time for people who pay absolutely no attention to hockey during the regular season to jump on the Avs’ bandwagon. Yeah, all you people who were running around in a drunken haze last June paying homage to Papa Ray, it’s time to start pretending like you care again.

The Avalanche have had a tumultuous season. Peter Forsberg never made it back, Chris Drury has been a little less than productive and Adam Foote’s had his usual three or four injuries. Yet Colorado still holds the second best record in the conference. The Avalanche still has one of the best teams in the league, but it will be extremely hard for them to keep the Cup in Denver.

As usual General Manager Pierre Lacroix has decided to make a blockbuster move right at the trade deadline, and like the last two years, the Avs have scored a big-name defenseman.

So, everyone say hello to Darius Kasparaitis. The Avs acquired him from Pittsburgh for Ville Nieminen and Rick Barry and are hoping this will give the team a much-needed boost.

Here is why the acquisition of Kasparaitis will not bring the Stanley Cup back for the Avs. It’s true the Avalanche did need help on defense. But no matter how much an improved defense will help them, it doesn’t change that the Avs’ main problem all season long is a lack of scoring ability. Joe Sakic has had a roller-coaster season with a slow start, a great Olympic break and a prolific NHL return that have put him among the best in the league in scoring. But the rest of the offense has been stagnant. Where Sakic has been good, Drury, Hejduk and Tanguay have not lived up to their seasons from a year ago. This means the first and second lines are not nearly as productive, and this will cause the Avs serious problems in series against Detroit, Los Angeles or Chicago.

With the inefficient scoring ability, the defense will be unable to win games for the Avs. With the offensive numbers the Avs are putting up now, goalie Patrick Roy would have to tally 15 shutouts. And that would be an impossible feat.

The Avs are also missing the Bourque/Forsberg inspiration. Last season there was enough emotional baggage on this team to propel three teams to championships. That is nowhere to be found this year. Besides, Detroit has more future Hall of Famers on its team than the U.S. Olympic team, and it will be a travesty if they don’t win the Cup.

So for all you bandwagoneers, don’t get your hopes up too high, because the Avs’ bar is just slightly out of reach this year.

Lee is a senior journalism major.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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