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Through the 5 Hole


November 3, 2009 11:28 PM

'Andy' gets well-deserved day off



Photo of Peter Budaj by Getty Images

The Streak ends Wednesday night for Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, who has started all 15 of the team's games.

It isn't that Anderson hasn't been playing well. He has, despite back-to-back losses to San Jose and Vancouver last weekend.

But he could use a rest and Peter Budaj needs to shake the cobwebs and rust off, and get into a game for the first time. Budaj has been given the nod to play against another surprisingly-successful team, the Phoenix Coyotes, at the Pepsi Center.

Budaj was scheduled to make his first start back on Oct. 23 when the Avalanche played Carolina at the Pepsi Center, but he came down with the flu, and it turned out to be the H1N1 virus (swine flu).

Budaj regained his health and joined the Avalanche for the games against the Sharks and Canucks but served as Anderson's backup.

"He deserves the opportunity,” coach Joe Sacco said today of Budaj. "Craig has played, as we all know, extremely well for us. I think it’s the right time right now to give Craig a rest and get Peter in there."

It'll be interesting to see how Avalanche fans react to Budaj, who is coming off a poor season in which he had the worst record of his NHL career when the team sank to the Western Conference basement.

Anderson was the NHL's Player of the Month for October when he tied a league record for the most wins by a goalie in that month (10), posted two shutouts and had a goals-against average of 2.04 and a .939 save percentage.

Anderson, who signed as a free agent in July, has become a popular figure in town, which puts more pressure on Budaj to excel. The boos are certain to come raining down from the stands if Budaj allows a soft goal or two.

This is an especially important season debut for Budaj, and a significant homestand for the Avalanche, which has gotten off to a 10-3-2 start despite playing 11 times on the road.

The Avalanche needs to prove that its start isn't a fluke. The Avalanche also needs to show fans disenchanted by last year's poor showing that it's worth purchasing tickets to watch the team play.

This homestand, which includes games against Chicago and Edmonton, could go a long way in doing that, and it all starts with Budaj in goal against the Coyotes.

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