Editor’s note: Today’s team preview is about the Colorado Avalanche, the defending champions of the Central Division. This preview was also written by Derek Kessinger; the radio voice of the Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League, and an intern 5280 Magazine, a local magazine in the Denver area. He is based out of the Denver area. If you would like to read more of Derek’s work, make sure to check out his website at: http://derekindenver.com. You can check out more of Not Your Average Hockey Blog’s work at: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog and by following me on Twitter: @hkyblogger.
While a season preview a year ago could only hint at optimism, it is now clear the future of the Colorado Avalanche is bright. However, the present still holds many questions for this young team. For the Colorado Avalanche to defend their Central Division title, the Avs will need to fight through growing pains and tough competition in the Central Division.
There’s a feeling around the league that the Avalanche’s apparent luck from last year will run out. While Coach of the Year Patrick Roy did turn the franchise around in his first season, the team’s poor performance in advanced stat categories has some around the league concerned. If the Avalanche hope to succeed, they must evolve into a better puck possession team or hope their fast paced style continues to create opportunities—despite pundits proclamations for an imminent downfall.
There is still doubt that Semyon Varlamov is a top tier goalie in the NHL. Varlamov has not shown that he can steer a rocking ship on course in critical situations, including last year’s Game 7 collapse in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. The same goes for a defensive group that always seemed close to coming unglued—with an aging Brad Stuart joining the corps.
The Avalanche’s offense is stacked with a youthful core hungry to rise to the top of the league including: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene. A healthy Alex Tanguay and the addition of Jarome Iginla round out the top six forwards. Look for MacKinnon to continue to dazzle in his second season with friendly competition for the title of the team’s best center from Duchene. The Avalanche also have added forward depth to the third and fourth line.
The Avalanche must win a playoff series this year to prove that they are moving forward and not stagnant.