Avalanche vs Kings 5 Things Preview


“Scoring goals will come.” — Patrick Roy

The Colorado Avalanche are entering the final stretch of the preseason. They play two games against the reigning Stanley Cup champion LA Kings. The Avalanche have yet to win a preseason game, and they’re taking on the best team in the league, by conventional measurements, not once but twice.

Game on.

#5: Goaltending

Backup goalie Reto Berra is hot. In Montreal he recorded a .917 save percentage, and in Calgary his save percentage was an impressive .957.

Head coach Patrick Roy said of Berra’s playing:

"“Reto has been working extremely hard in the summer with Francois [Allaire]. He was ready when training camp started. In Montreal and again yesterday I thought he played really well, which is very positive.”"

Berra will start at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, while Semyon Varlamov is starting in Las Vegas.

#4: Roster

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Coach Roy has stated he wants eight defensemen and 13 forwards for the start of the regular season, in addition to two goalies. The two goalies are set with only Berra and Varlamov remaining. The eight defensemen are also set now that Duncan Siemens and Daniel Maggio, among others, have been sent to Lake Erie. The remaining defensemen are the following:

  • Erik Johnson
  • Brad Stuart
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Nick Holden
  • Jan Hejda
  • Ryan Wilson
  • Zach Redmond
  • Nate Guenin

Except for the top defensive pairings of Johnson and Stuart, Barrie and Holden, who makes the team on a nightly basis will get played out throughout the year.

The big questions come for who makes the bottom-six of the roster. The players still in the mix are the following:

  • Andrew Agozzino
  • Dennis Everberg
  • Borna Rendulic
  • Ben Street
  • Tomas Vincour

With Jamie McGinn probable but not definite for opening night, and John Mitchell unlikely according to Roy, they’re fighting for those two spots. Jesse Winchester is also out indefinitely, and Marc-Andre Cliche is not guaranteed a spot in the nightly lineup, but that still leaves limited room for the five prospects. They’ll be fighting tough.

#3: Chemistry

The last two games are going to be about lines building chemistry. It’s not definite that all the regulars will play each game — in fact, Jarome Iginla is already out with an ankle issue. However, the top-six forward lines and top-four defensive lines are likely to be as close to regular-season as possible.

Club captain Gabriel Landeskog also wants to see the systems solidified:

"“With the line up being as close to opening night lineup as we can get, I think it’s certainly important that we get systems where we want them to be. We want the details where our back track and our forecheck and neutral zone forecheck and all these kind of things, we want those to be nearly as perfect as possible.”"

#2: Scoring Goals

The Colorado Avalanche is a fast, goal-scoring team. They are going to score goals. Patrick Roy is positive of that. Gabriel Landeskog is positive of that. I’m gathering star center Matt Duchene is positive of that. Erik Johnson is certain that the defensive core will do their part:

"“As a defensive group last year I think we were sixth in the league in points scored by defensemen. That’s pretty damn good. [Scoring] is going to come very, very soon. If you’d told us we’d have trouble scoring goals. I think a lot of people would have laughed at you because I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us when the season starts.”"

The Avalanche have scored only seven goals in six games. That’s Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins numbers — those defensive teams that are so boring to watch. That is not a Colorado Avalanche statistic, and it’s going to sort itself out.

#1: Winning

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  • Yes, it’s the preseason. yes, the wins and losses don’t count. Yes, it’s all about getting into good habits.

    As coach Roy puts it, “Winning, losing is not relevant this time of the season. It’s how we play, and how good we feel about going into the season.”

    Forward Ryan O’Reilly concurs, “The reason that we play these games is to iron out these kinks.”

    But it’s also about getting on a roll. Landeskog admits the team would like to “get in that win column.”

    Johnson puts it in perspective:

    "“Our last preseason we were in a similar situation, we hadn’t won one. We played some good games against the Kings to gear up for the season then had a great start to our year.”"

    They not only had a good start, but a good ending.

    So, the Colorado Avalanche have a lot going into the last two preseason games against the reigning Stanley cup champions. It should be exciting.