It was the night before Christmas eve when the Colorado Avalanche faced off against Central Division rivals, St.Louis Blues. This game was of huge importance for the Avalanche on multiple levels. Colorado’s huge holiday victory was an outstanding display all around, definitely their best game this season.
From the top line down, everyone played their game. Erik Johnson continued his dominance against his ex-team, while Paul Stastny got robbed by Semyon Varlamov’s paddle. It was proof that the Avalanche possess the capabilities to beat the best teams, and BECOME one of the best teams. Now that Colorado is healthier than they have been all year, they can begin a real push for the playoffs.
After missing a few weeks with the same injury he suffered earlier this season, Semyon Varlamov returned in between the pipes for the Avalanche. Despite rookie Calvin Pickard playing outstanding in Varly’s absence, coach Roy has stuck by his man, and for good reason. After all, Varlamov was a key component in the Avs success last year, finishing second in voting for the Vezina trophy.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 24, 2014
On Tuesday night Varlamov returned and showed everyone why he is the undisputed number one goalie on this team. Though not peppered with shots against the Blues, Semyon Varlamov was perfect in net, posting a shutout in the Avs 5 to 0 victory. Calm, cool, and collected, we witnessed the Varly we all know and love. I’d say this game does a world of good for Varly confidence wise, who now has some extra days off over the holiday to finally say goodbye to that pesky injury for good.
The Avalanche came out from puck drop and imposed their game on the Blues, out-skating and out-working one of the league’s best teams. It was a confidence boost for everyone on and around the team. With the Avalanche finally getting some healthy bodies back in the lineup, their level of play has picked up.
John Mitchell and Brad Stuart came back a few games ago and since their return the Avs have gone on a three game winning streak. John Mitchell is like The Dude’s rug, he really ties the room together. Allowing coach Roy to spread out the offense and roll three scoring lines, while Stuart provides the solid defensive game you’d expect from a veteran Stanley Cup champion. Against the Blues, everyone was rolling, and the Colorado Avalanche looked much more like the Colorado Avalanche we expect.
With the healthy bodies coming back, along with the fact that the Avalanche are playing MUCH better hockey of late should serve as a huge confidence booster. Not only did they beat one of the NHL’s best teams, they humiliated them.
Stringing Points Together
If there was ever a time to start a nice winning streak, I’d say it’s now. Colorado has a lot of division showdowns coming up, and we all know the importance of winning these division games. For the first time this season, the Avalanche are finally at a .500 record. That is terrible to think about, but really reinforces how important this game was for Colorado.
Heading into the Christmas break, the Avs needed this win, badly. They got it, and in some style too. With that huge holiday victory, Colorado is now only 7 points back of the playoffs with a game in hand.
Next up, Chicago Blackhawks. One of the most exciting games to watch is an Avalanche vs Hawks game, hands down. Another gigantic division rival game for the Avs. Let’s keep the good times rolling into next year, the Avalanche have momentum and are starting to find their game, the rest of the western conference should be on alert.
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