The Colorado Avalanche are now one of the biggest teams in hockey today. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy wanted to add size and strength to their lineup, and they have accomplished that mission.
Colorado went from being one of the smallest, easiest teams to rough around, to the biggest in just a couple of years.
They didn’t just add big bodies however, they added big bodies who can skate and play the game just as well.
Colorado is by no means abandoning their skillful, offensive game. But they did want to add size to that skill to create a unique blend of both. Now that this is a reality, they must find the right balance between the two to get their season on track before it’s too late.
The Avalanche have gotten the size they sought out, now they have to get used to using it on a consistent basis.
You Have the Size, Now Use It
Additions such as Nikita Zadorov, Carl Soderberg, Dennis Everberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, Blake Comeau, and Mikko Rantanen(just recently sent down) amongst several others, are all very big boys capable of punishing the opponent. Granted, most of these guys are very young, raw, and still need further development. Though that shouldn’t stop them from using their big frames to finish their checks to wear down the opposition.
Captain Gabe Landeskog, alternate captain Cody McLeod, veteran Comeau, and newly acquired Zadorov are the only ones, by a mile, who use their bodies every shift. In fact, Zadorov could become Colorado’s best ever checking defenseman. But what about the rest of the team?
Obviously every team has guys who are not expected to punish the opponent with this hard checking style. But if Patrick Roy wants his new big team to play big, he needs to teach them to do so with consistency. No more one night on, one night off. It’s unacceptable and costing the Avalanche crucial points.
Eastern Road Trip Provides Opportunity
Colorado now sets out on a three game road trip that will see them take on Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. This is a perfect time to start showing off this big, skilled, Avalanche team, and time to show it on a nightly basis.
These three teams are not very physical, and the Avalanche could really capitalize on that fact. Typically the east is not nearly as hard checking as the west, so the Avs can definitely use this road trip to their advantage, and get back into the top half of the standings.
Players like Rantanen(yes I know he was sent down! But he is a BIG part of the future), Gigorenko, and Everberg, especially since they are so young, need to start developing the habit of finishing their checks every shift. If they and the rest of the team can do this, the skill of the Avalanche will also come out a lot more often than not.
Below is a little taste of what Nikita Zadorov has brought to this team, a hit on Corey Perry that gave the Avalanche the momentum and ultimately the victory. The rest of the young Avs should be taking notes.
His name is Big Bad Zad, hopefully his swagger and physicality rubs off on the rest of the team, it would be very hard for it not to do exactly that.
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