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Old 12-22-2007, 10:47 AM   #138
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Default Hands down, Finger on rise

We had a foot now we have a finger...

By Adrian Dater
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 12/20/2007 12:47:46 AM MST

Denver Post sports writer Adrian Dater posts his Avs Mailbag every Thursday during the 2007-08 NHL season on DenverPost.com.

To drop an Avalanche- or NHL-related question into the Avs Mailbag click here or visit DenverPost.com's Avalanche Page.

Adrian - All I keep hearing is praise about Jeff Finger. Yet every time I see him play, all I notice is how slow he is. He gets beat night after night one-on-one - and now, as I speak, he just tried to juke out two Blue Jacket players and instead he gives it away, and the Blue Jackets capitalize. I've seen this happen a lot; even if the opposing team doesn't always score, it gets chances. Am I the only one who thinks Finger is a liability on D?
-- Rob, Texas

Sorry, Rob, gotta disagree with you on this one. Finger was a plus-10 entering Wednesday night's game in Anaheim, second best on the team. He's one of the few Avs D-men who really can and will hit hard. His speed might not be the fastest in the league, but I've liked what I've seen so far, and I know Joel Quenneville does, too.

Incidentally, Finger can be an unrestricted free agent next year, and don't think for a second many teams haven't noticed him and might not offer him a very nice contract come July.

Adrian - I'm sure you have been hearing the rumors as I have that, with the emergence of Mike Smith and Dallas, the Stars might consider trading Marty Turco. Do you think the Avs would try to make a deal for him? And do you think Turco would waive his no-trade clause to come here?
-- Bryan, Seattle

Bryan - No, I don't see Turco coming here. The Avs would have to, most likely, get Dallas to take Jose Theodore as part of that deal, and I don't see that happening.

I would be wary, if I were Dallas, of trading Turco and just relying on Smith. Granted,
Colorado defenseman Jeff Finger entered Wednesday night's game at Anaheim with seven points and a plus-10. (Post file)
Turco has a poor playoff history, but he's always gotten the Stars to the playoffs, at least. Smith is still unproven in many ways.

TSN of Canada had Turco possibly going to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis - and if I were Dallas, I'd take that deal in a second. So, we'll see, but it does look likely that the Stars are trying to get something for Marty.

Hey, Adrian. Was it my imagination, or did the Avalanche wear its home jerseys in Columbus the night it blew the 3-1 lead?
-- Ed Clark, Salida

Ed - Yes they were. I don't have the exact reason as to why, but they were. It could have been for any number of reasons. Sometimes teams have equipment problems for one reason or another. There was a game in Nashville last season when the Avs forgot their uniforms and had to have them flown in at the last second. They took the ice for warmups in practice jerseys, and almost had to play the game in them.

Regarding that question you answered on why younger players are having so much success in the NHL early on, would you agree that it's also the new rules? With less clutching and grabbing, it is less of a physical hurdle for rookies to overcome.
-- Howard Chan, London

Yes, Howard, I'd agree with that. Although, it's becoming harder to score again, with teams basically telling players to be five goalies in front of the their regular goalie
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now, and block as many shots as they can and collapse around the goalie. But there's no question that there is more freedom to skate with the puck now, without constant hooks from behind or tugs on the jersey.

Adrian - Everyone is talking about Scott Hannan's minus-14, but what about Joe Sakic's minus-6 (second worst on the team)?! Now I know Joe always changes gears and turns up the heat in January and through the end of the year, but is this going to be the first year where he does not lead the Avs in points (take away one or two to Mr. Forsberg)? Is this the beginning of a decline in yearly production (less than a point per game)? Thanks!
-- Doris C. Doria, Arvada

Doris - Father Time gets us all at some point. So, yeah, this could be the beginning of the end for Super Joe. But let's hold our hearses just a bit here.

He still was close to a point a game when he got hurt. Not bad for a 38-year-old. A lot of players had bad plus-minuses on the team, until a recent winning streak.

I think Sakic's going to be fine in the second half, provided he's healthy. He's always been a great second-half player, and let's not forget how good he was last year. So, keep the faith, hun.

How about the play of Kyle Cumiskey? The little guy lacks size, but he plays great D with his speed and positioning. That chase-down of Paul Kariya on Sunday was outstanding. What kind of future does he hold in Denver?
-- Mark, Florida

That was actually Jamal Mayers that he tracked down, something I wrote about in a story this week. He's fast all right, and it's a tremendous asset in this new league.

I really think he's got a good future with the Avs, but he must continue to work on his defensive game. He is small, so he's going to have to really use his speed to steal pucks and break up plays with poke checks and things like that.

Adrian, thanks for the mailbag; it's great to get an inside look on the Avs! I'm wondering, who is the "third" goalie in case both goalies go down during a game? I think Eric Messier used to be the go-to guy back when we had Patrick Roy and Craig Billington, but who is it now? Cheers!
-- Suzan "Suz" Mabeate, Denver

Suzan - I asked around a bit, and the consensus seems to be that either Brett Clark or Karlis Skrastins could do the job in a pinch. Clark and Skrastins block a lot of shots, so it wouldn't be too foreign to them, trying to do that with pads on.
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