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.
Additions: Ryan Kesler, Dany Heatley, Clayton Stoner, Jason LaBarbera
The Ducks made some really positive changes this year in the looks of staying on top in the Western Conference. They pretty much needed two players to fill in the void in the second line for Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, and they did just that. Not only did they replace them, but they improved over them. The Ducks just got younger up front and now they have an excellent 1-2 punch with their top two centers in Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. The Dany Heatley signing was an outstanding move as well because he is a great player with a proven track record of putting up All Star numbers. He may be on the decline, but that doesn’t worry Anaheim because they only gave up 1 million for him, which is as much as your average fourth liner, except he brings more to the table than any random depth player. He still has it in him to put up some good offensive numbers, and if it doesn’t work out, it is only a one year deal so Anaheim has nothing to lose. Picking up Clayton Stoner was also a great move because now they have that much needed defensive depth after losing veteran Stephane Robidas. Jason LaBarbera is also a solid move because he is an experienced NHL level backup goalie who will most likely play in the AHL next year to mentor some of the younger guys, or if John Gibson needs to spend another year in the minors, LaBarbera can do his job backing up Frederik Andersen.
Over the next month, Not Your Average Hockey Blog will be previewing every single team. No matter what your team is, we will have a preview for you. We will be using this opportunity to showcase some up and coming writers. Today’s writer is Kyle Chan, a student at Wilfrid Laurier University. We hope you enjoy his preview; if you do, make sure to share it with your friends, and make sure to “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog
The Bruin’s last season came to a crashing halt with a devastating game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens last spring. The Bruins were contenders to win it all, as evidenced when they won the President’s Trophy, but stopped way short at the second round. Will the return of Dennis Seidenberg be enough to push the Bruins to another championship or will the loss of 30 goal scorer Jarome Iginla be too much for the Bruins to replace? Only time will tell but let’s see what the B’s have done this offseason.
With the loss of Iginla, the Bruins are lacking in the goal scoring department. With no real additions to supplement the loss, the team will struggle to replace his goal scoring presence. However, the return of Seidenberg should give the Bruins more leeway when they don’t score as often. The loss of backup Chad Johnson should also hurt as he was a rock behind the starter Tuuka Rask, but Rask should be able to shoulder the loss as he matures and develops the stamina to play more games.
Overall, the B’s lost some key players that were vital to their regular season success but their expectations and results should not change. This is a contending team with the right pieces that can challenge for the Stanley Cup in the foreseeable future. Look for them to continue their dominance of the East and maybe the ultimate goal: Lord Stanley’s Mug.