Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cream Puffs Anyone?


The Avs are really a bunch of cream puffs.  As I go through the lines it is rather jarring (reverse pun intended) how soft they are. 

Duchene-Stastny-Hejduk is as soft and snuggly as a Reese Witherspoon Rom-Com on a Valentine’s Day date.  Call them the softie line.  As hockey players that shoot, pass, deke, etcetera they are doing better than just okay.  Hejduk has magic hands, Stats is solid and reliable and Dutchy is fantastically creative.  But mean and gritty?

Jones-Olver-Mueller was a recent line.  Jones has long been excepted to go to the net but doesn’t seem to have the personality to do it on a regular basis.  Mueller is reputed to be a floater and Olver is just small.  That said, Jones has raw talent that clearly works at times even if he is streaky.  Mueller has a ton of talent if he can just stay healthy.  But none of these guys are going to knock an opponent to the ice hard enough to make an impression.

Individually there are guys that need a look too.  O’Reilly being the most important.  He is having a killer season and no doubt part of that is due to his steady maturation and insane work ethic.  But I think playing with Landeskog has a lot to do with it as well.  Landy makes space on the ice for O’Reilly to work.  Landy leads this team in hits and most of them are good, solid hits.  O’Reilly, despite all his gifts as a player is still a cream puff.  I can’t possibly count how many times O’Reilly has had a chance to lay a lick on an opponent and he pulls up.  His “finish your checks” hits are half-hearted and weak.  It’s the only criticism of his game I can conceivably level at him. 

None of this is meant to say that these guys aren’t what the Avs need on the ice.  Nor am I saying they aren’t tough, they take punishment and keep on playing.  They are talented but lack the latent chip on their shoulder that not only has a place in this game but is a necessary component of success for most teams.

I believe that the management of the Avs have seen that this component has been missing ever since Chris Stewart was traded away.  Perhaps it was thought that TJ Galiardi was going to fill that roll.  He was certainly given plenty of time and opportunity to do so but it just didn’t seem to gel. 

The challenge with the Stewart-type of players is that they are pretty good at too many aspects of the game for their own good.  They are just good enough with the puck that one coach/team wants them to focus on that and let the physical nature of the game take care of itself.  The next coach/team wants it the other way around.  These guys that can skate well, move the puck well, score and have a mean streak aren’t a dime-a-dozen.  They often have trouble fitting in to the lineup and yet their value can’t be denied.

With the acquisition of Downie and McGinn the Avs appear to be back on track.  The team has a big defense, upgraded goaltending and now a little more grit to go with the talent up front.  This just may be the pieces the Avs have been missing that can get them back to the playoffs.

Here's a nice cream puff recipe for ya, remember, serve with a bit of attitude and everything will be fine.

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  •  
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk. Cover and refrigerate to set.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
  5. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pudding mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells.

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