It may surprise some to find out that the fifth-place Colorado Avalanche have the best win percentage against their Central Division foes. The Avs continue to have the top record within the division at 10-3-1 after last night’s victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
It took some time as I mentioned it would, for the team to gel with all the new faces that arrived in Denver during the off-season.
Now they all have found their respective roles on the team, and it’s materializing on the ice.
With the young guns and old veterans pulling their weight, Colorado has finally created a new tougher identity compared to the last several years. They’ve brought in bigger, stronger bodies in order to compete in the “Wild West” and especially within their own division.
Going into the season the Central Division was predicted to be the toughest in the NHL, and those predictions were spot on. Consisting of very strong teams from top to bottom, there isn’t one that is considered a non-playoff team.
The Avalanche are at war with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, the St.Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and the Jets, it doesn’t get any harder than that.
Colorado has done extremely well to put themselves back in a playoff position after their dismal start to the season. With the victory over Winnipeg last night, the Avs jumped back into the final wild card position.
Every game from here on out will be of massive importance. The Avalanche have done well to be just 3 points behind the Wild now, but there are teams breathing down their own necks as well.
So now that the Avalanche are in a decent place, they need to continue looking up and concentrating on catching the next team, and the next team after that. There is no time whatsoever for complacency in today’s NHL.
Colorado’s main problem has been on the defensive side of the game. After the 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado decided to make some moves within their system. Moves that have since paid off quite nicely.
With Erik Johnson sidelined, the Avalanche decided to call up their two best defensive prospects in Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov, while sending Brandon Gormley down to the San Antonio Rampage, and placing Nate Guenin on waivers.
It was a bold move by management, but one which was begging to be made.
Three games have passed since that move, with Colorado’s revamped defense allowing just three goals in that time.
Playing to Their Strengths
The new look defense is all well and fine, but the Avalanche are an offensive team, always have, and hopefully always will be.
Colorado is a high scoring hockey club, with Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabe Landeskog all putting up solid numbers, and Carl Soderberg, Jarome Iginla, and Blake Comeau amongst others providing that secondary and tertiary scoring.
As of this morning the Avs are the 5th highest scoring team in the entire NHL, and that should be expected with the talent they have within their roster. This is a good team, they have improved, and want to improve some more.
If Colorado keeps getting this solid play from Semyon Varlamov along with their defense, the offense will continue on scoring as they have been and we will be seeing playoff hockey in Denver once again.
The Avs record against their Central Division foes has been, and will continue to be extremely important down the stretch in order to make the post-season, and so far, they are on top in that category.