(In honor of the holidays, Santa Clause forwarded his very own list to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for this week. Not wanting to end up on the Naughty list, he got his wish.)

NICE

1. The Colorado Avalanche are on a five game win streak, own an NHL best 8-2 record for December and have a winning record for the first time this season (17-16-1). They also own a 7-2 record against their fellow Central Division rivals. Among all NHL teams, Colorado ranks 11th in wins and eighth in points. They have also scored the first goal in seven consecutive games. Sugar Cookies all around!

2. Coach Patrick Roy deserves extra special recognition for staying the course and helping his team improve to the point the postseason looks like a viable possibility. Also, Roy managed to encourage both Matt Duchene and Semyon Varlamov through their slumps to find their inner star. A special North Pole peppermint hot cocoa for him, with a little ‘extra’ added.

3. Semyon Varlamov – a fellow snow lover – improved to a 7-1 record in the month of December, with a six game streak where he’s managed one shut out, a .989 goals against average, and a .970 save percent. For the season, he has moved up to 17th place among NHL active goaltenders, illustrating how much his game has improved. Varlamov’s 39 saves on 40 shots against the Oilers even caught the attention of the east coast media. Santa is considering a good North Pole cider to warm his spirits and a hearty cheer of “Varly”!

4. In shutting out the Chicago Blackhawks, Santa’s favorite snow team ended Patrick Kane’s 26 point scoring streak, broke Crawford’s 155 minute scoreless streak, notched their tenth road win, and reached 20 road points (5th among all NHL teams). Santa loved seeing the Avalanche ‘snow’ the Hawks and will be adding a little something extra to each player’s stocking.

5. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin will be getting a very special gingerbread house for scoring the only two goals in Colorado’s win over the Islanders while still leading the team in time on ice.

6. Candy canes will be going to the Avalanche defense for scoring in each of the last three games.

7. Santa will be sending egg nog from his private stash to all four offensive lines for contributing to the scoring against the Edmonton Oilers. The elves like to see all the lines contributing, and they are especially fond of how they are more effective fighting for control of the puck in the neutral zone.

8. Jarome Iginla notched his 598th goal of his career. Santa knows Iginla really wants that 600th goal for Christmas and he and the elves are crossing their fingers as even Santa can only watch and wait on that one. However, he will be sending healthy treats to Mr. Iginla to help fortify, nourish, and energize him to reach his goal as soon as possible.

9. In case some missed it, defenseman Cody McLeod moved AWAY from a fight in the Oilers game. Santa is so proud. The Avalanche perform better when they have fewer penalties to kill, even though they have only allowed one goal in their last nine penalties. The elves will be sending him herbal tea to keep him on an even keel.

10. Taylor Hall of the Oilers will also receive a candy cane for acknowledging Varlamov’s stellar play stopping Hall’s shot attempt at the end of the second period with a tap on his pads. A class move deserves recognition.

11. Last minute Christmas present – the NHL wise men (both of them) recognized Semyon Varlamov as the NHL star of the week. So the Avalanche have a star to guide them. And hopefully lead them to the promised land of the postseason.

NAUGHTY

1. Cal Clutterbuck of the New York Islanders will be getting a large lump of coal in his stocking for his hit on nice Nick Holden. Fortunately, Nick (one of Santa’s favorite names) proved solid on his skates and Clutterbuck was the one who fell to the ice. Large lumps of coal to Clutterbuck and some very tasty peanut brittle for Mr. Holden (who also scored a goal this past week).

2. Andreas Martinsen lodged a number of solid hits throughout the week. While Santa Clause likes to encourage good will to men, he also enjoys a good check into the boards. So while ‘technically’ his hits would count under the ‘naughty’ list, they were too good for coal. Instead, he will be getting an assortment of North Pole cookies to sweeten his disposition.

3. Mrs. Clause would like to see a better performance on Colorado’s power play than their one for eight this past week. She would also like to see them move up from their season ranking of 22nd, with 17.4% scoring on the man advantage. Santa hopes to provide incentive by sending fruitcake until they improve.

REINDEER SCAT

1. Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw’s hit on Beauchemin deserves more than coal. For those very special ‘naughty’ acts, only reindeer scat will suffice. A generous helping will be left on his door step. Santa doesn’t like cheap shots.

2. The NHL officiating crew once again deserves a warm heaping pile of scat for not penalizing a hit to the head of Beauchemin. Near the end of the game, a cheap shot to the head should require some response from the officials. Especially when delivered by someone with a history of rough play. Santa is starting to wonder if maybe the officials have received one too many hits to the head themselves.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS (AKA – What to Watch)

1. Avalanche prospect A.J. Greer, who had been playing at Boston University, announced this week that he would be leaving their program to join the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. It will be interesting to see if the change will improve his play. Greer will be joining two other Avs’ prospects, Julien Nantel and J.C. Beaudin. “These three lads, in Canada are, learning skills to carry them far, checking, skating, hitting, scoring, chasing the Avs new star (Varlamov)…”

2. The 600 goal mark looms nearer with each game for Jarome Iginla. He needs two more goals to join only 18 other NHL players who have reached this landmark. “We wish him his 600th goal, we wish him his 600th goal, we wish him his 600th goal, and a landmark New Year!” The entire North Pole is pulling for you Mr. Iginla!

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight, er, I mean, night!

Jackson’s Presentation banner 728
J.D. Killian

J.D. is a CSU alum who first became entranced with hockey while watching the old Colorado Rockies hockey team. Years of watching, cheering, and a love for intelligent analysis has brought J.D. to BSN Denver. You can follow JD on Twitter at @JDKpirate