LOS ANGELES – I’ve had better starts to days than the one today, Day 5 of a seven-day Avs road trip. Out of a sound sleep at about 8:15 a.m. in my hotel here, an inexpensive hotel where the doors open to the outside, a knock at the door. I wake up quickly over things like that, so pretty fast I said loudly “Hello?” No answer.
I get up to look through the peephole and see three people standing there. They look young, with coats on, masks on. Of course, everybody wears masks now today so…
I say “Hello?” again. No answer. I’m already thinking the worst now. Then, a loud knock on the door with what was some kind of hard, blunt instrument. Was it a baseball bat? A billy club? Some brass knuckles? Guess I’ll never know. By that point, I grabbed my phone and dialed 911. As I’m talking to the 911 operator, I still see the three people outside. Looked like two guys and one female. They seemed young, but that’s about the best I could tell. The guy standing closest to the door started talking on a phone of his own.
A few seconds later – maybe 20-30 – they were gone. About 10 minutes later, cops were at my door, looking around for the people I described. That’s the last I know/knew of anything. I checked out, and went for a drive for a couple hours, to the downtown LA area, and around Sunset Boulevard.
Hey, when I thanked all of you who contributed to the Avs Travel Tip Jar for this trip, I meant it. I promised to stay in low-cost digs, not to waste money needlessly. But, yeah, one pledge moving forward: No more hotels where the door opens to the outside, where anyone at all can stand right outside it and beat on it with hard objects and not answer you when you call out to them. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous for a few seconds there.
The drive around LA was fun though. I even checked something off my bucket list in that time, stopping to snap a couple pictures of the Brady Bunch House, which was completely renovated by the HGTV channel last year to exactly match the house from the TV show – of which I was/am a major fan.
OK, on to some Avs off-day notes:
- I expect Philipp Grubauer to start Sunday’s game against the Ducks, though that isn’t official. The team had the day off from all hockey activities, so not much information from team headquarters about anything. Jared Bednar has now had his hand forced a bit with the injury to Pavel Francouz. He probably would have played Francouz in two of the Avs’ six games by now, but he’s not available tomorrow and going with Hunter Miska probably just isn’t in the cards. Everything is magnified in this shortened season. Every win and loss counts nearly one-third more than it would have in an 82-game season. Coming home 3-3-0 isn’t going to look and feel so good to Bednar, if he loses a game with the inexperienced Miska in net again. I have no doubt that Grubauer doesn’t mind the extra work. I mean, it’s not like he and any other hockey player have been overworked in these last 10 months.
- We’ll see if Andre Burakovsky can play tomorrow, but it doesn’t sound like it. The Avs almost always want players to have a full practice before they get back into the lineup, and there was no practice Saturday.
- If Bo Byram keeps playing like he did Friday night, someone who has been used to being in the top six for the past year or so is going to have to sit. Could that be Ryan Graves? I don’t know. But I do know that Graves is off to a slow start, and the Avs have already traded one veteran to help make room for Byram.
- Anaheim has won its last six games following an overtime game. Something for you bettors to keep in mind.
- It was reported elsewhere that the Avs kicked the tires with Columbus on what they might have wanted for Pierre Luc-Dubois, who was traded Saturday in a deal that sent Patrik Laine to the Blue Jackets. But if the Avs did at all, I believe it was a very brief conversation. The Avs fully expect Alex Newhook to at least contend for a second-line center spot starting next season.