The Colorado Avalanche were in danger of falling far behind the playoff chase too early on into the season. However, that was before they swept their crucial three-game road trip against top Central Division opponents, which brings Colorado’s record versus the Central to 7 wins and 2 losses.
This recent trip saw the Avalanche face top teams, including the Nashville Predators, St.Louis Blues, and Chicago Blackhawks, sweeping the trip, but more importantly, making up ground on all three teams at the same time. Colorado is at long last finding ways to win tight hockey games, as opposed to early in the year, where they would come off on the short end of a one goal game more often than not.
The top offensive line, along with the return of steady defense and goaltending, plus solid road play during a busy schedule has given everyone around the Avalanche reason for optimism.
The 123 Line
The line of Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Matt Duchene have continued to dominate, and they showed it again last night in their 3-0 victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
They are becoming dominant on a regular basis and are definitely in the conversation for the NHL’s best line. Led by young Matt Duchene who had the worst month of October, posting only 1 goal, but since has been one of the league’s very best, notching 15 goals since then, including the first goal vs Chicago, which ended up being the game winner. Duchene is now 6th overall in NHL goal scoring with 16. He’s not too shabby on the road either.
SEASON LEADERS, ROAD GOALS: Seguin (DAL): 12 Duchene (COL): 11 Pavelski (SJ): 9 Marchand (BOS): 9
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 15, 2015
Patrick Roy plays them a lot during games and they’re just having fun out there together. It’s very difficult to defend the speed, power, and skill of this line, focusing on one of them just leaves the others open, and they’re only getting better at finding each other.
This run of solid hockey would not be possible without the resurgence of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varly had a horrible start to the year by his standards, though with a goalie of his talent, it was only a matter of time before he rebounded. He’s on fire now. Who put an end to Patrick Kane’s amazing point streak? Semyon Varlamov and the Avalanche did, that’s who.
Thankfully for Colorado he has regained his form at a perfect time for the team to catch up, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The Avalanche are a confident team with Varlamov on his game.
Life on the Road
Up to this point, Colorado has now played in 32 games, 20 of them have been on the road, more than any other team in the NHL. That’s already half of their road games finished, and lots of home ice to look forward to, a very comforting feeling for sure.
The most recent three-game road trip has shown just how much character this team has. At last it feels and appears as if Colorado has turned the corner, getting their goaltender back to normal, along with their potent offense, and playing much better team defense, which is often overlooked.
They are ranked 8th overall in NHL scoring, keep up the solid defensive game and goaltending, and Colorado will be adding much more W’s to their record.
The Avalanche are now only five points out of a playoff spot, they can’t hold back even for a second in this league, the team needs to continue exactly what they’re doing and they will see playoff action. Something which people had written off so quickly, good thing the players didn’t.
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble