Oct 2, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) and right wing PA Parenteau (15) celebrate after the game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Predators

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The Avs didn’t quite put together the same 60-minute effort as they had in the opener, but once again, this team looked good. And thankfully, I was much closer on my prediction this time around.

Things were noticeably more physical and chippy tonight, thanks to Steve Downie (more on him later) but the Avs asserted themselves in this game and were clearly in charge throughout. I know we’re two games in and there are still some huge questions lingering but there is promise galore here.

Here’s what we learned from the Avs’ 3-1 victory on Friday night.

The Avs Are Deep

While this game was a little tighter offensively, and I think that can be credited to a deeper defensive team like Nashville, the Avalanche had their fair share of chances and obviously capitalized on enough of their chances to get the win. Also worth mentioning: captain Gabriel Landeskog was out with an injury.

The top line of O’Reilly – Duchene – Downie was dominant in the opener, with ROR getting on the board and causing a ton of havoc. The third line had a solid showing, too. Last night was more of the same from the third line, with Parenteau getting his first two goals of the season and MacKinnon adding another assist to his totals. Remember: the Avs are doing this without the Landeskog – Stastny – Tanguay line ever getting on track in game one and, though Tanguay was flat out robbed in the second last night, they still hadn’t got on the board as a unit (Stastny assisted on Parenteau’s empty netter, though).

It’ll be interesting to see how long Landy is out but the Avalanche have been getting a lot from one line and a pretty good effort out of the others so far. If they get on a roll and get that second line going, they’re going to be very hard to stop.

Everyone Hates Steve Downie

He was just minding his business, doing his thing (flying around and hitting everything) quietly until the second period, then suddenly, everyone hated him. Of course, it might’ve had to do with this huge hit on Roman Josi after Bordeleau scored in the second period:

To be fair, and I’m not saying this because I write about the Avalanche, I thought the hit was totally clean and Josi needs to keep his head up if he doesn’t want things like that to happen again. That being said, I kind of understand why Weber would lose his mind and try to beat Downie to death like that — he’s the captain, so he’s supposed to stand up for his teammates, and he’s also notoriously violent.

Downie would get out after his time was served before slashing someone and earning his way right back into the box. All was calm for awhile until late in the third period when Downie was shoved into the net and promptly jumped by two Predators. Punches were exchanged, penalties were handed out, and that was the end of it…for now.

Varlamov Looked Like the Real Deal (Again)

Things weren’t always going so well for the Avs and the first seven or eight minutes showed that they’ll still need Varly to be lights out. Thankfully for them, that’s absolutely what happened. The Avs were struggling through the first half of the first with sloppy and errant passes, just not having the same sharp start as they did in the opener.

Varly would finish the night with 26 saves on 27 shots and has been incredible through the first 120 minutes of the season.  For the Avs to be successful this season, as has been said a thousand times over, he needs to be his best. Although, I did have one thought regarding his play: there were a few instances where the puck just kind of found him when it didn’t look like he really knew where it was. I know some of that is positioning but how long can that continue?

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Alex Tanguay Colorado Avalanche Erik Johnson Nashville Predators NHL PA Parenteau Semyon Varlamov Steve Downie

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