Young Colorado Avalanche Team Having Fun


“When I get over the blue line, if I don’t have a chance to score I’m not shooting it. I’m going to hold on to it and try to make a play.” — Matt Duchene

Last season, third-liner Max Talbot remarked that the Colorado Avalanche are a “crazy young” team. Now, the youngest member of the club, Nathan MacKinnon, is living with him, and Talbot seems to be just going with the flow.

And why wouldn’t he? The young Colorado Avalanche team are having fun playing hockey. And when you’ve got talented youngsters like Colorado does, that only bodes well for the team’s chances.

These days, everybody wants to talk about the advanced stats. When those stats are applied to the Avalanche, news goes south fast. Statisticians use shot attempts as an indicator of puck possession, and that’s one of the areas in which they claim the Avalanche are lacking.

Star center Matt Duchene disagrees with that measurement:

"“There are so many teams, they get over the blue line, they shoot the puck and they go and chase it.”"

Ah, the dump and chase, everybody’s favorite — not. Indeed, Duchene continues:

"“We don’t do that. A lot of us hate that type of hockey. I know I do. I can’t stand it. When I get over the blue line, if I don’t have a chance to score I’m not shooting it. I’m going to hold on to it and try to make a play.”"

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Don’t we know that’s what he does? And the Avs Nation loves that style of play, right? Whenever one of the young players is working magic with his stick, we hold our breaths because we don’t want to miss a nano-second. That’s exciting hockey, people.

Indeed, head coach Patrick Roy knows the Avs Nation very well. He states unequivocally that the Avalanche will always be an offensive team, which is why they tend to give up a lot of shots:

"“Our fans are very important to us, and our fans know the Avalanche is an offensive team.Yes, we’re going to give [up] shots, and we’re certainly not going to stop doing that.”"

Why would they? Colorado Avalanche hockey has always been about generating offense and trusting in the goalie to stop extra shots because of that style. Describe their style of play today, and you could very well be describing the Avalanche in their 1990s heyday.

Gabriel Landeskog as the captain perhaps feels the need to add a word of warning. He points out that it all comes down to winning hockey games, which the Avalanche clearly did last year with their offensive style. He acknowledges:

"“On the other hand, some games we felt we left [Varlamov] out to dry and let the other team test him a little too much. Those are the games where we need to be able to shut them down and give them not as many scoring chances.”"

Nonetheless, he and Duchene think the Avalanche are an exciting hockey team. They’re known for playing what I call heart attack hockey — it gives fans a heart attack sometimes, waiting to the last second to win. In fact, Denver media started calling them the Cardiac Kids last season.

In the end, Duchene, who’s as serious about his hockey job as anyone in the league, is having fun because he knows that allows talented individuals to produce their best work:

"“We play a creative style, we want to make plays and create scoring chances. That’s the way we play, and it’s fun. It’s fun not to shoot the puck, it’s fun to wait and be patient and handle the puck, get touches and wait for that opportunity so that maybe we don’t have five shots, but we have one goal.”"

Like I said — Colorado Avalanche hockey is heart attack hockey. And that’s ok because the young players have the chops to back it up.