It’s the end of October and the Colorado Avalanche are an NHL-best 9-1-0.
An easy-looking effort against the Carolina Hurricanes and yet another Matt Duchene clinic (more on him later), and the Avalanche are in a place no one thought they’d be. It’s easy to forget that this is the same team that picked first overall last year, but the difference is night and day in this club.
We’ll cover that and more with what we learned from last night’s 4-2 win.
The Crash May Not Come
There have been some out there saying that the Avalanche can’t continue to get the goaltending they’ve gotten and that when that tails off, the Avalanche will come crashing back to Earth. Through ten games, it’s clear that while the Avs would suffer a setback and not win at the same clip, there’s not going to be a systematic crash.
The defense isn’t dominant, but they are doing their job. Getting in front of the opposition, blocking shots, and making the quick pass out of the zone. The forwards are responsible defensively and the overall defensive effort is better as the season goes. Varlamov hasn’t had to stand on his head quite as much of late.
The goaltending will hit a decline at some point — the current numbers can’t stand up over the course of a season — but the Avalanche will survive it and continue to find some success.
Dutchy Don’t Hurt ‘Em
Is there anyone, male or female, not swooning over Duchene at this point?
He did this last night to score his team-leading seventh goal of the season:
He later did something similar to pick up an assist on the team’s third goal. The guy is a video game character at this point. His movements and skills are not of this world and we’re all trying to figure out where the controller is plugged in (I didn’t think Patty Roy was familiar but I guess so).
There were several times last night where I just shook my head because he does incredible things and makes it look so damn easy. I’m not saying he deserves it now, but if he and the team continue to perform at this rate, there better be some serious MVP talk for Duchene. Until then, teams can’t stop him, they can only hope to contain him.
This Is A Complete Team
I know, I know. We’re only ten games in and I should probably keep the hyperbole for later, when we have a larger sample size to work off of. But I’m watching these games and I can see with my own two eyes that this team, two games aside, has been large and in charge in just about every meeting they’ve had this year.
They roll three talented, effective lines that off their own skill set and impact on the game. The defense isn’t going to impress anyone but they do their job. They block shots, they clear the net, and they’re in the spot they need to be. And the goaltending, even when it stops being insane, will still be pretty damn good.
Just as importantly: they have very good special teams. It seems that is often the difference between the really good and the kind of good teams. They sit ninth in power play efficiency and really seem like they are just scratching the surface there. After all, they have so many interchangeable forwards they could plug in and be effective. And the penalty kill is back atop the mountain at #1 in the league. They are fast, they are aggressive, and they are smart.
Perhaps most importantly, this group buys into what Roy is selling. He’s passionate and smart. The team clearly sees that and they’re listening. They look energized, impassioned, and smart — just like their coach.
Next up: 10/27 vs Winnipeg
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