It's no secret that I have great disdain for all Colorado sports teams, but I would be remiss not acknowledging the impressive turnaround of the Colorado Avalanche this season.
|Photo by: Patrick Smith|
Two former players have made a huge impact on the organization. Joe Sakic now reigns as the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, making all the final decisions on matters regarding team personnel. On the bench, Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy has been very impressive in his first stint as a head coach. Roy won his first 6 games, tying Mario Tremblay for the most consecutive wins to start a coaching career.
Channeling his inner Roy, netminder Semyon Varlamov has been stellar in between the pipes, boasting a 1.76 goals against average; 8th-best in the NHL. His backup, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is also playing well. Recently, he shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins, stopping all 34 shots he faced.
Center Matt Duchene is proving why he is worthy of his 5-year, $30 million contract. Through 11 games, he's lit the lamp 9 times. Also noteworthy is the play of 18-year-old rookie standout Nathan MacKinnon, who already has 6 assists on the season.
As a team, Colorado leads the league in penalty kill percentage. They have only allowed 3 power-play goals all year, and have yet to surrender a short-handed goal. The Avalanche have clearly been playing more disciplined hockey, committing fewer penalties than the opposition and taking full advantage of power-play opportunities.
Without question, accolades are well-deserved for this club. It is, however, a long hockey season. Time will tell if they can sustain this level of play for an extended period of time.
I will say this; given how well the Avs are currently playing, I can't wait to go to the Pepsi Center soon to take in a game live...and cheer for the visiting team.