Colorado Avalanche Look Great After A Hot Start

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NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 18: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche (r) celebrates his empty net goal against the New Jersey Devils and is joined by Nathan MacKinnon #29 (l) and Nathan MacKinnon #29 (c) at the Prudential Center on October 18, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Avalanche defeated the Devils 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After a killer year in 2017-18, many people placed the Colorado Avalanche in the “likely to regress” category for this season. After all, they shot way up the board from the year prior. In 2016-17, Colorado finished with a franchise-low 48 points. Just a year later, the team put up 95 points and qualified for the post-season. Talk about a surprise.

No one wanted to take anything away from their strong run last year. That said, regressing seemed to be everyone’s first thought for the season ahead. Most analysts figured Colorado would fall back outside of the playoff picture in 2018-19. The St. Louis Blues made a lot of moves in the offseason, and the Dallas Stars were expected to improve. Besides them, the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators seemed destined to lead the Central Division again, too. Inevitably, these expectations gave the Avs little room to move.

However, now nine games into the new season, the team is cruising. The Colorado Avalanche currently sit in a tie atop not just the Central Division, but the entire NHL.

Colorado Avalanche Are Making A Statement

They might just be a tenth of the way through the year, but the Colorado Avalanche look better than many expected. Right now, they’re 6-1-2, good for 14 points and a tie with the Preds for first in both the Central Division and NHL. They’re third in goals-for with 33, averaging 3.67 per game. They also rank tied for seventh in goals-against, averaging just 2.11 per game. Four of the team’s six wins are by three or more goals.

Basically, the team dominates their opponents on all sides of the ice. In net,

 Semyon Varlamov sports the best save percentage (.953) and goals-against average (1.64) in the league. Among goalies with at least five games played. Forwards Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog appear to be the best line in the NHL right now, too. Rantanen sits tied for first in points league-wide with 16, and MacKinnon has 15. Landeskog and MacKinnon have eight goals each as well, two less than leader Auston Matthews. Defensively, Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie have five assists each and Nikita Zadorov leads the team with 19 hits. It might be time for many to adjust their expectations of the Avs.

The Colorado Avalanche look legit. They find ways to win consistently, and most of their losses have come in overtime. They’re padding the point column fast and often, and this hot start gives them a major advantage in the playoff race. Rather than playing catch-up, Colorado is now fending off other teams this year.

What is the likelihood this keeps up? Well, MacKinnon’s proving to be a legit superstar in the NHL, so his production will probably remain at an elite level. His linemates are taking full advantage of that, but Rantanen and Landeskog also appear to be reaching new heights in their personal abilities as well. The Avs have plenty of youth with a roster ranking as the league’s fifth-youngest at an average age of 26.5 years old. Youngsters like Tyson JostAlexander KerfootSamuel Girard, Zadorov, Rantanen, and J.T. Compher still have room to grow, yet already fit perfectly at the NHL level.

Streaks and Special Teams

Rantanen and MacKinnon set a new franchise record for simultaneous point streaks to start a season when they both picked up points for a ninth-straight game. Those streaks are still alive and could be extended with the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The same is true of Landeskog’s four-game goal streak. Varlamov still sports a goose egg in the loss column, with a 4-0-2 record to begin the year. His backup Philipp Grubauer sits on a two-game win streak helping the Avs to claim at least one point in each of their last six games (4-0-2 in that span).

Essentially, everyone is hot right now. Those streaks could all get longer with the entire team sharing the load.

The good news in Colorado doesn’t end there, either. The Avalanche has the league’s eighth-best powerplay (27.27%) and third-best penalty kill (90.48%). Their special teams dominance is a major part of their overall success. Being able to consistently convert on the powerplay will allow Colorado to remain in games every night. The same is true of their ability to kill penalties.

Colorado Avalanche Join NHL Powerhouses In The Earl Season

Basically, the Colorado Avalanche have arrived as contenders. That statement was made between their hot start to this season and the year they had last year. They’re letting everyone know that season was no fluke, and they expect to be at that level and better for years to come. With their elite leaders and young supporting cast, the team is built for success.

Expect the Avalanche to make the playoffs again this season, but with much more potential to go deeper than last year. This could be the year they push Nashville and Winnipeg all year long, too. In the very near future, they’ll be widely viewed as one of the best teams in not just the Central, but the whole league. If they can keep up this momentum, that future could be the present before the year is over.

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