The Colorado Avalanche continue to be a mixed bag of goodies, having won their first home game in over a month after losing two games on the road.
1. The Colorado Avalanche broke the drought and won at home in an exciting overtime game against the New York Islanders. Nathan MacKinnon scored the winning goal with only 17 seconds left on the clock of a gut-wrenching 3-on-3 overtime, avoiding the dreaded shootout. There was much rejoicing!
2. Alternate Captain Nathan MacKinnon was just named to the NHL All-Star roster as the sole Avalanche representative. Considering the 21-year-old leads the team in points, it’s not much of a surprise. He has earned the honor. Congratulations and stick taps all around!
3. Colorado picked up speedy forward Matt Nieto (formerly of the San Jose Sharks) off the waiver wire. The new acquisition quickly impressed everyone when he played the next day for the Avalanche and registered four shots in the first period, including the season’s first penalty shot (which was blocked). Coach Bednar appeared to like him, playing Nieto for over 17 minutes and including him on both the power play and overtime lines.
4. Against the Islanders, MacKinnon had a two-point night with an assist as well as the game-winning goal. He broke his own scoring slump.
5. Defenseman Tyson Barrie racked up eight points in the last seven games, notching a goal and seven assists over the time period. He also played his 300th NHL game New Year’s Eve. Of course, he also owns the team worst plus/minus scored of -21 so not everything is roses.
6. Avalanche prospect Tyson Jost earned a silver medal playing for Team Canada in the World Juniors tournament. He returned for two games for the University of North Dakota, playing four games in four days. He earned an assist in the finals of World Juniors, and then registered three goals and an assist in the two college games. The future is bright….
1. It says something about Colorado’s forward depth when a waiver wire acquisition plays one day after being acquired, and exceeds all but the team’s top four guys of MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Duchene. Maybe trading one of those forwards isn’t such a good idea after all.
2. The Avalanche rank DEAD LAST in NHL goals scored with a meager 72. How in the world can they afford to trade away Duchene or Landeskog? Both are signed to VERY reasonable long term contracts and the team isn’t likely to acquire better value before the trade deadline.
There are eight other forwards the Avalanche can afford to lose. But none of those guys will be able to fill in the gap losing a Duchene or Landeskog would cause. Trading either of them could set the future of the franchise back for years.
3. Alternate Captain Matt Duchene recorded his 400th NHL point on December 29th and hasn’t earned a point since. Yet, he still leads the team in goals and is second in total points. Guess that means he’s due to break it open when they return from break.
4. Every player on the Avalanche owns a negative plus/minus score, except for Matt Nieto. Say what you want about the value of plus/minus as an evaluating tool, but if EVERYONE is in the negative, that says something. And it’s not good
1. The Avalanche penalty kill surrendered three goals in their loss to the Calgary Flames. Since Colorado lost 4-1, one can’t help but wonder if the outcome would have been different if the team hadn’t taken the penalties or could have had even a modicum of success on the penalty kill. Ugly, and likely cost the team at least a point.
2. Please, for the love of all the hockey fans out there, would Altitude cease and desist from running excerpts of their non-hockey related shows during the pre-game, game and post-game? While Vic Lombardi’s football talk or the latest Mammoth news may be of value somewhere, it ISN’T during a HOCKEY game. Respect your audience.
THOUGHTS TO PONDER
1. Of the 15 players who suited up for the Avalanche last year and are no longer with the organization, only six of them have seen NHL ice time this season. Of those six, only defenseman Nick Holden plays an anchor role for a team. Only three of those six have played more than 30 NHL games this season – Holden, Jack Skille, and the now-benched Mikkel Boedker. A couple have suffered injuries.
However, six of the remaining nine fellows look to be perennial AHL players, one plays in Sweden, and two are no longer in hockey. When only one of the former Avalanche players averages 15 minutes or more of ice time for another NHL team, doesn’t that say something about the quality of Colorado’s depth outside of their core players?
2. Consider the average age of the Avalanche with just the core players. Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov are the oldest at 28, Duchene turns 26 in eight days, Barrie is 25, Landeskog turned 24 in November, Nathan MacKinnon is 21, and Mikko Rantanen is 20. If you add in Calvin Pickard, he is 24. So how come Colorado has one of the highest average age teams in the NHL?
3. The Avalanche went from winning at home (finally) to an NHL-mandated five-day break. Does the break help or hurt the team at this point? And, if the break was created to offset the long season, could the NHL do better by shortening the season or cutting down on the number of pre-season games? Something to consider.
4. Colorado has more wins than the Arizona Coyotes. Yet the Coyotes have three more points. Isn’t it time to consider awarding three points for wins or eliminating the loser point?
The wheel continues to spin as the Avalanche returned short-term call-up Jeremy Smith to San Antonio last week. Smith served as Calvin Pickard’s back up while Semyon Varlamov recovered from yet another groin injury. Anyone want to bet on whether there is another goaltender call-up in the Avalanche’s near future?
WHAT TO WATCH
1. The Colorado Avalanche return from their mandatory break for three upcoming home games, the first being Thursday night hosting the Anaheim Ducks with a 7 pm start.
2. How many different trade rumors will be floated between now and an actual move? Maybe someone should start a pool.
3. And, will there actually be a trade in the upcoming week? Everyone hang onto your seats!