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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Daily debate: Avs soaring, Sens stumbling

By Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun

Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun discuss some of the hot topics in the NHL today.

Burnside: Well, my friend, no shortage of topics today. Let's start with the wackiest game from Monday night. Colorado scored three times in the last 2:24 to defeat the defending Cup champs from Chicago, 7-5. Marty Turco was long gone by then, but the goaltender didn't have a very good night. He gave up four goals on 10 shots before he was pulled for Corey Crawford, who gave up the tying and winning goals before the Avs added an empty-netter.

But what I thought was interesting was Tomas Fleischmann, recently acquired by Colorado from Washington, who chipped in a goal and two assists in the third period to help pace Colorado and push the Avs back into a playoff spot in the tightly-packed Western Conference.

LeBrun: The man they call "Flash" now has seven points (2-5) in his six games since leaving Washington and he's showing that if you give him minutes, he can produce just like he did last season with the Capitals. He played more than 16 minutes only three games out of 23 this season with the Caps, but has already played more than 16 minutes in five of his six games with his new team. And you see the production. The Avs have scored the most goals in the NHL, meanwhile, and are a blast to watch. I'm prepared to announce that even though the Western Conference race is incredibly tight, the Avs will make the playoffs. And the Canucks better be careful, the Northwest Division title is up for grabs.

Burnside: Agreed, my friend, I like the Avs' pluck even though they continue to soldier on through a bevy of injuries to key players. The other game that was dynamite Monday night was the Thrashers' 4-3 overtime win over Ottawa in which they blew a 3-0 lead. One of the Sens' comeback goals was scored by Jason Spezza on a penalty shot, but it was Spezza's no-look drop pass early in OT that Bryan Little took the length of the ice and beat Brian Elliott for the winner. Yes, the Sens got a much-needed point, but, once again, Alexei Kovalev was a non-factor, minus-1, zero points, so you can feel the tension building through the snow in Ottawa. Meanwhile, the red-hot Thrashers have Washington in their sights as they are two points back with a game in hand. They are in Tampa for another big game Tuesday night.

LeBrun: I know from talking to Sens GM Bryan Murray pretty much every week over the last two months just how disappointed he is and how much better he feels this team should be. He's been trying to make a trade to shake up the team for a long time, but has been offered bad contracts in return and doesn't want to do that. The trade holiday freeze is Dec. 19-27, so I suspect he'll give it one more college try. I also wonder just how safe Corey Clouston is behind the bench. Hopefully for him, the head coach can turn this around soon and keep his job because that's another area eventually where you'd think Murray will feel obliged to act on if the team keeps losing. As for the Thrashers, wish I had put them higher in the power rankings this week. Fell asleep at the wheel there. They're on fire and at this point, I'm not sure how Craig Ramsay isn't the odds-on favorite for the Jack Adams Award.

Burnside: Don't sweat the Power Rankings my friend, I'll clean up your mess when I do them next week. And you're right about Ramsay and the Jack Adams. Which is a good segue for my final thought, that of the Phoenix Coyotes, where defending Jack Adams Trophy winner Dave Tippett again has Coyotes looking like they're playoff-bound. Tuesday night the City of Glendale will vote on a new lease agreement with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. It will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars to keep the team in Glendale, but the other option is for the league to move the team to Winnipeg, a process that would begin early in 2011 if no new lease is in place. I think the council will hold its nose and agree to the lease and a deal for Hulsizer to buy the team from the NHL for about $170 million will be announced within days, leaving us only hockey to talk about in the desert moving forward. Now all Hulsizer will have to do is make it work where so many have failed before him.

LeBrun: As stinky as those lease conditions are for local residents, I don't see any other option for the City of Glendale given that the alternative would be seeing the team leave town and that would cost taxpayers even more money in an empty arena. Our colleague from the Toronto Globe and Mail, David Shoalts, also reminds us in today's edition that "there is a chance the Goldwater Institute, a public watchdog, will take Glendale to court for violating Arizona laws against excessive public subsidies for private enterprises." But it does appear the Coyotes mess is finally coming to an end. All of which will shift the attention to your town of Atlanta, Scotty, where the Thrashers' ownership situation and low attendance has people in Winnipeg and Quebec City licking their lips. Until tomorrow.