Sebastian Hedley-Noble The Hockey Writers
Colorado Avalanche Finally Finding Their Groove
The Colorado Avalanche just thumped one of the best teams in the league, the Montreal Canadiens, in their own barn. This was no fluke win.
The Avalanche finally look like a team with an identity. They finally have put all parts of their game together, and they are finally on a very solid winning streak.
Colorado have done some tinkering with their lineup and it’s paying off. With a few moves within their system, the Avalanche are indeed showing that they are a much deeper team than in years past.
With injuries to Jesse Winchester, Alex Tanguay, John Mitchell(healthy now), and Semyon Varlamov, that new depth is now proving its worth.
Coach Roy is able to roll out all of his lines on most nights, which benefits everyone more and more as this season goes along.
The Avalanche also recently claimed Chris Wagner off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks, giving the organization even more depth. Wagner will most likely slot in at the 4th line center position, allowing Ben Street to play his top-6 role in San Antonio.
Colorado’s been getting great production from the right guys who have stood up at just the right time.
This, along with the incredible play of their number two net-minder Reto Berra is why the Avalanche are very much trending up.
Berra has been nothing short of magnificent while standing in for the injured Semyon Varlamov. When I say magnificent, I mean it. Berra is currently sitting comfy at number 1 overall in GAA at 1.50, and is also 1st overall in save percentage at .953. Extremely strong and welcome numbers.
He has been given the nickname “Berracade” and for good reason, not only are his numbers impressive, but so is his body language. The goaltender from Switzerland shows no panic in the crease or anywhere else, he is a very calm person, and he shows that on the ice.
With starting goalie Varlamov not getting off to a great start and then getting injured, Berra needed to step up, but he has done more than that. He has number one goaltender numbers, so could we see a possible rotation when Varlamov is healthy?
One thing is for certain, the Avs have a great problem when it comes to goaltending, especially when you factor in top prospect Calvin Pickard who is knocking on the door.
Top Guns Getting it Done
It’s the old cliché of your best players needing to be your best players, and that is exactly the case in Colorado. Led by their three young budding superstars in Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, and Nathan MacKinnon.
Landeskog has been his consistent self, while Duchene has completely caught fire, at last playing like the Duchene Avs fans are familiar with. Then there’s the beast that is MacKinnon, who is now 7th overall in the NHL scoring race at age 20.
Ageless Jarome Iginla is having his best season with the Avalanche in his second year, already with 13 points in 17 games. Not to be forgotten are new additions Mikhail Grigorenko and Carl Soderberg who have seemingly been getting better with each game.
Colorado has a lot of jump and momentum right now, but they are a young team, so they must stay even keeled and continue on learning how to win.
Learning to Win
The Avalanche are now learning to win instead of finding a way to lose. Far too many times have they lost a game by one goal. In fact, almost all of their losses have ended by just one goal, not counting empty netters.
With their terrible start, this record high seven game road trip for Colorado could make or break their season.
So far they are off to a perfect start, winning the first three games. Though this has only started to repair the damage they inflicted on themselves to start the year, they seem to be learning how to finish off games which was the major problem early on.
Colorado no longer allows tons of shots per game, and are getting their fair share of shots towards the opponents as well. These were big problems last year but will not be the case any longer. This is a much different Avalanche team, and I will stand by what I said in the off-season, this is also a better Avalanche team.
The Avalanche must now keep going strong on this road trip and aim to make it a seven game road sweep. Nothing is impossible, especially with the way they have been playing.
Next up, the Avs play the Toronto Maple leafs on Tuesday.
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