Starting the new season off with a record of 2 – 4 – 4, the Colorado Avalanche have had a mixed bag of displays. Putting in great performances in some games, while looking terrible in others. For a team with such high standards and significant talent, this was not the start the Colorado Avalanche were hoping for. Not enough effort to start the first couple of games, and not enough wins on the board have put the Avalanche in a tight spot. Bottom line is this team needs to get it together quickly because the rest of the west won’t wait for the Avs.
Thankfully its extremely early on and some problems seem to have been sorted out, while other problems however, are still lurking around. Despite their up and down start though, all it will take is for the Avalanche to go on a little winning streak and they are right back where they should be, in the top half of the western conference. Here we’ll take a quick look at the Colorado Avalanche, the good, the bad and the ugly. I am starting this piece off with the ugly as its the same way Colorado started out their season.
Colorado had a terrible pre-season, and had lost some of its bottom six depth in Patrick Bordeleau, who is one of the NHL’s best enforcers, to back surgery before the season even started. Coach Patrick Roy hasn’t been worried however. Knowing what he has at his disposal, and that what he has will all fall into place. The hope is that begins sooner rather than later. The new season just didn’t start out like it was envisioned.
To begin the year off Colorado were just dreadful in their home and home series against the Wild. Ugly is exactly how to describe the display and effort shown into those games. Not putting in one goal in either game, is unacceptable for this team. Colorado wanted to start the season beating the team that broke their hearts in last years first round playoff series. They wanted swift revenge, but it didn’t happen and the team was devastated. The Avs were terrible in all areas except goaltending, in those first two games.
They were humiliated in the first game of the season, and perhaps was the best time for it to happen, as the Avalanche surely got a wake up call from that. Thankfully, it seems Patrick Roy has whooped some sense into this Avalanche team as that was the ugliest things have gotten. About as ugly a start as you can have for a team with such high expectations. No doubt, the Colorado Avalanche cannot have that happen again. No more ugly please.
What followed next was a four game road trip out east which saw the Avs beat the Bruins, but only come up with one point in the remaining three games. Both Varlamov and Berra going down injured in the same day in Ottawa was extremely bad luck. The Avalanche had to play their AHL goalies for that game and the following match versus Montreal. Ryan Wilson, Jesse Winchester, and John Mitchell have also been injured, with Mitchell just returning for his first game against Ottawa.
The worst thing about the Avs losses is that they were all one goal games, not counting the Wild games obviously, and Colorado had the lead in many of them. They just couldn’t close out the games when they were ahead versus Toronto, Ottawa, or Montreal, something that needs addressing immediately. Looking at it positively, this does show us that the Avs are getting things together, as they were in every one of those games. Although, that’s still not cutting it until they put forth a consistent effort like they are capable of.
Another problem the Colorado Avalanche are facing, is the fact that Nathan MacKinnon has yet to score a goal in ten games. MacKinnon does have four assists though, but that is definitely not the start he wanted or expected of himself. MacK has to do something about it, he’s getting more and more chances, so perhaps its just a matter of time before he starts scoring. We hope.
Returning home from the disappointing road trip, the Colorado Avalanche were playing much more to their liking. The bad part is that the team wasn’t picking up the points that are expected of them. Star goaltender Semyon Varlamov was still on IR even though he was good to go and ready to play, Colorado had to wait a minimum of seven days before taking him off IR. Reto Berra recovered from his injury in time for that game hosting Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers. That game didn’t end how the Avalanche intended either, however, that game did build some much needed confidence for their power play unit and were also able to at least grab a point.
There are some good things about this weird start for the Avalanche. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, and the Avs are very close to becoming that consistent threat we saw last year. To start, there is a silver lining stemming from that road trip. Young goalie Calvin Pickard showed he can play in the NHL, as he had a very solid showing in his first real start in hostile Montreal.
Colorado would come home after that to face Vancouver next, with Varlamov coming off the IR and starting the game. The Avalanche’s top two goalies were healthy again. Colorado put on a show that night, scoring seven goals in front of their home fans. Jesse Winchester is getting close, and so is Ryan Wilson, which means a complete healthy lineup coming up soon(minus Patrick Bordeleau). Semyon Varlamov has come back from injury in Vezina form, stealing a point basically all by himself for the Avs last game against the Sharks(a game in which MacKinnon seems to have finally found his groove).
Speaking of players who have found their groove, a number of Avs have been playing very good hockey for the Avalanche. Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Tyson Barrie, Eric Johnson have all been on fire lately. They are just waiting now for the rest of the team to catch up, which is slowly but surely happening. One player to keep tabs on for the Avs, is newcomer Nathan Redmond, who finally got his chance with the team. Judging by his play, he’s not going to let this chance slip.
A huge positive to draw from these first ten games is that Colorado’s special teams have done fantastic, especially the penalty kill. If they can keep that up, they will most certainly be a playoff team. Since the Avalanche have come home from the road trip, they have gone 1 – 0 – 3, stringing together a little point streak. That’s five out of eight possible points in their last four games. If the Avalanche can win the next game, that would mean seven points out of ten. So its not so bad after all, a nice winning streak and this team is right back in the top half of the west. Be patient, and remember, the team is very very young and will continue to learn and improve their game, only ending in valuable experience and positive results for the Colorado Avalanche.
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