Let’s face reality here Avalanche fans, the team has gotten off to a massive roller coaster start, and the offense seems to be showing up one game only to disappear the very next. The same could be said for all parts of their game, including defense and goaltending, though they seem to be stabilizing.
First let me say that with so many new faces joining the club through free agency and trades, this team was bound to struggle to start the year if chemistry was not formed overnight.
There are a total of seven new players on the Avalanche roster, nine if you count Dennis Everberg(only played a handful of games for the Avs last season) and Mikko Rantanen. That means more than one-third of the team is new and adjusting.
As we all know, chemistry is not usually formed overnight, and the Colorado Avalanche have suffered for it, especially Matt Duchene.
Who Will It Be?
The most pressing concern to me is Duchene’s lack of a true partner to play with night in, night out. Jarome Iginla has done admirably on the right side but a few games ago, Patrick Roy shuffled the pack. Placing Alex Tanguay and Iginla on either side of the explosive Nathan McKinnon. Thus sliding Landeskog and Carl Soderberg on Duchene’s wings.
We have not seen Duchene have anything close to the chemistry he had with Thomas Fleischmann and Peter Mueller, which seems like an eternity ago. Sadly both of those players have been gone for a while due to health reasons, and now I have a salty substance coming out of my eyes. BUT – there is room for optimism here. Landeskog and Soderberg did seem to provide Duchene with some energy, grit, skill, and speed and the line showed pretty well for its first time together.
Now if Landeskog, Soderberg, or both can stay on as Duchene’s wingers, providing results along the way, the Avalanche may have finally figured out their lines and pairings. With much-needed victories sure to follow if so.
What About Grigorenko?
I took a quick poll on whether Soderberg or Mikhail Grigorenko should be given the opportunity with Duchene, and though not many people voted(I’m not popular enough yet apparently), the results are pretty telling. At least from a fan stand point. This was of course taken at the time when Iginla was Duchene’s winger.
— SebastianHedleyNoble (@SebastianHNoble) October 31, 2015
If Landeskog or Soderberg are moved around which is very much a possibility while this chemistry is being figured out, there is one talented Russian in Grigorenko who I believe would bring the best out of Duchene. Grigorenko has been playing hard, and is earning Roy’s trust while putting up points with limited minutes.
If one of Landeskog or Soderberg isn’t the answer, why not try the very skilled Grigorenko, who is just foaming at the mouth to play with the talent Colorado boasts in their top six.
Once Duchene starts to catch fire, watch out, because MacKinnon has already done so and with that one-two punch down the middle, it will be exactly what the doctor ordered for Colorado’s playoff hopes.
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