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AJ Haefele

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The trade deadline always presents an odd exercise in building a team that’s trying to win a championship. It’s almost never core pieces that get moved but complementary ones, players on the periphery. After all, it’s largely the good teams in the league trying to pillage the bad teams for the players that can help them the most. That alone…...

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Injuries have a way of revealing the stuff teams are really made of, that secret sauce that separates the pretenders from contenders. With four regulars missing at forward and playing their backup goaltender for the second straight night, this was the kind of game a team could have lost and many would have shrugged and pointed to any number of…...

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Who needs John Gibson? Fresh off signing a two-year contract that will hopefully keep him in Denver through 2022, Pavel Francouz recorded the first shutout of his NHL career in a 1-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Gibson, for his part, made life as difficult as he could for the Avalanche as he looked much more like the Vezina-caliber goaltender…...

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When players have an option between testing the free agent waters and staying where they’re familiar, it’s always interesting to see which the player prioritizes. Given Pavel Francouz’s age (29) and strong rookie season this year, it was reasonable to expect he might get intriguing offers to play more for bad teams, potentially even getting a chance to start for…...

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Funny what a couple of years can do in the NHL. It wasn’t that long ago that Joe Sakic was in the shadow of the impetuous attitude of Patrick Roy, his former teammate back during their glory-filled playing day. Their management structure didn’t last long and yielded almost disastrous results. Their parting of ways left their pet project, the Colorado…...

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Stylistic contrasts almost always make for entertaining hockey viewing because the team that successfully imposes it’s will on the other usually gets the outcome it’s looking for. Back in January, that was true when the New York Islanders shutout the Avalanche 1-0 in what was a showcase not only for the NHL’s replay system but also Semyon Varlamov’s revenge on…...

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There are roller coasters and there is tonight’s game. When a game gets billed as a “Stanley Cup preview” type of game, you tend to get a pretty good game, especially in the second half of the season. What the attendees at Pepsi Center got tonight was on another level. While the Tampa Bay Lightning walked out with a 4-3…...

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Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – B- Solid throughout, I didn’t really have any complaints from Bellemare. He won his share of faceoffs (63%), had a shot on goal (more than one would be nice) and was positive in pretty much all of the shot metrics you care about. He was fine. Andre Burakovsky – C- I didn’t notice him a lot offensively…...

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Coming into tonight’s game, it felt like a Stanley Cup preview. Even the fans were unusually amped up, with a verbal fight right below the press box beginning before the anthem and spilling over into the opening minutes of the first period that ended up with security removing some of the parties involved. While fans were fighting throughout the evening,…...

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I’m a sucker for love stories. Movies, songs, and apparently hockey ones, too. I’m all about them. In the last two years, the Avalanche has enjoyed watching the Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen connection blossom into something special. It’s been the kind of connection that makes you believe something bigger might be in store down the road. This year, the rosy-cheeked Cale…...

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If there’s one thing the second half of the NHL season regularly produces, it’s desperation. Teams start to realize they only have so many games remaining on the schedule to get the points necessary to make the postseason and turn up the intensity a notch or two. After completing their first comeback win of the season last night in Columbus,…...

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“Goaltending is voodoo.” In the controlled chaos that is hockey, there is one guy whose job it is to make sense of it all, sift through the madness and decipher the future before it happens and react accordingly. Every game is different, every period has its own personality, and the puck is shaped in such a way that it bounces…...

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We knew when the schedule turned over to 2020 that Colorado was facing one of the league’s softest schedules of strength. In the 12 games since the new year began, the Avs have lost five games, just three in regulation, and continue putting themselves in position to challenge for the Central Division title. After a 6-1 beatdown of the Buffalo…...

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I’ve always been a big believer in how you respond to adversity says the most about you. Bad things happen to all of us but how you handle yourself when things are on fire, that’s really what brings out the character. The Avs weren’t anywhere close to “things are on fire” mode yet, but after a frustrating 6-3 loss to…...

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Coming into the post-bye week, Colorado had a few goals to accomplish in the final 33 games of the regular season as they work they way towards a third consecutive playoff appearance. Get some consistency from goaltending, sharpen the special teams, and get the top line playing like the top line again. In a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers,…...

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With the trade deadline fast approaching, it’s become clear the Colorado Avalanche are among the top contenders to emerge from the west this year and compete for the Stanley Cup. No team is ever built perfectly and the trade deadline is not only the last chance for teams to improve its roster, but it also seems to serve as a…...

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There’s taking care of business and then there’s taking care of business. Colorado came into today’s matinee showdown against former rival (forever rival?) Detroit needing to win to have an eight-point homestand and go into the All-Star break trailing the St. Louis Blues by just six points. Two minutes into the game, Nikita Zadorov turned himself about like he was doing…...

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Style. Systems. Regular season success versus postseason success. Nothing brings these discussions to the forefront of Avalanche hockey quite like matchups against the St. Louis Blues. After the Avs lost both games in St. Louis earlier this year, making it six losses in a row against the Blues, the writing on the wall appeared clear: the Avs were not built…...

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