Avs Firing on All Cylinders = Success


Within the Avs Nation, no matter how dark it got this month, no one questioned the Colorado Avalanche had the talent to be better than their record showed. Indeed, that served as the center of the lament. How could the Avs be struggling to score goals with the firepower we have up front?

That wasn’t the only concern, of course. For awhile we had the third stringer (rookie Calvin Pickard) as our #1 netminder, and the #2 guy (Reto Berra) was putting up better numbers than last year’s star, Semyon Varlamov.

Then there was the little matter of last year’s prize rookie going goal-less for 10 games… And the D-corps neither stopping opponents nor adding to the offense… And head coach Patrick Roy and his changing line combinations… Frankly, lots of Avs fans expected the Colorado Avalanche-New York Islanders game to be a blowout against the Avs.

Turns out it was the Isles who got blown out.

Scoring Touch

Spoiler alert: Nate MacKinnon scored a goal. Actually, he scored two.

We all knew it was just a matter of time. That first goal would go in for Nate, and that would break the dam of his scoring. Well, it finally occurred at 16:35 of the second period during a rare Avalanche power play. Nate showed real patience as the puck came to him from an Erik Johnson re-direct. He just dribbled it like he was taking a free throw in basketball until Islanders goalie Chad Johnson dropped.He then picked his spot and sniped it in.

Naturally, Nate felt good. He said of the play:

"“It’s a lot of relief [to score the first}. It felt really good. I had a lot of time there in the slot with the puck. Thankfully it went in. It felt a little surreal at the first moment.”"

In fact, it felt so good he did it again later in the second.

Besides Nate’s two, there was the little matter of the fourth line showing up. That line drew the biggest bone of contention as Daniel Briere was scratched in favor of keeping Marc-Andre Cliche and Max Talbot — as well as Cody McLeod. At the time, Talbot had no points and Cliche had a measly assist in 10 games. (McLeod also had no points, but 28 penalty minutes.) That changed in the Islanders’ game as McLeod and Cliche each recorded their first goal of the year. Talbot got two assists, and McLeod also added an assist to his tally.

The defense, while still somehow allowing 40 shots on goal, did an excellent job of contributing to offense. Well, actually, Erik Johnson led the way. He recorded four shots on net — matching Nate for the team lead — earned an assist on Nate’s first goal and scored his own midway through the third period to seal the deal for Colorado.

Goal Tending

“I had a rough start, and right now it’s very important for me to get the confidence back.” – Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov faced 40 shots. He stopped all 40 for the shutout. Last game he made 49 saves on 51 shots. It’s safe to say he’s at least showing flashes of last year’s magic. (It might even be possible to say he’s back on his game, though let’s not jinx the deal.)

Varlamov admitted that he had a slow start to the season. He recorded two regulation losses and an overtime loss before suffering a groin injury in practice. He missed three games before coming back for a lackluster performance against the Vancouver Canucks (.897 save percentage, three goals against) that was a win only because the Avs scored seven.

Well, Varlamov was a lot more solid in Winnipeg, even though the Avs lost in overtime, and stole a point for the team against the San Jose Sharks. While he didn’t steal the game against the Islanders — when a team scores five goals, it really should win — he was a great contributor to the W.

Line Combinations

Live Feed

NHL News As It Does and (Does Not) Relate to the Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL News As It Does and (Does Not) Relate to the Toronto Maple Leafs /

Editor In Leaf

  • NY Islanders Mathew Barzal watches his old team in Memorial Cup FinalEyes On Isles
  • Columbus Blue Jackets Coaching Search: Who Are the Candidates?Union and Blue
  • Coaching Carousel: Who Replaces DJ Smith?SenShot
  • NHL: The Best Player at Every Jersey Number, #31-40Puck Prose
  • Canadiens: Geoff Molson Met With Patrick Roy More Than OnceA Winning Habit
  • Head coach Patrick Roy was either going to look like a genius or a fool after he tinkered with the line combinations for the Islanders game. Well, guess what, Avs Nation, Roy has ever been a mad genius.

    Roy has always been a big proponent of earning your spot on the team. That’s not to say there aren’t unscratchable players. It’s hard to believe top-6 players would ever be healthy scratches, except… PA Parenteau sat out games last season, and he was mostly a top-6 player.

    The two healthy scratches for Colorado, Briere and defenseman Zach Redmond, had not been playing badly. On the contrary, Redmond has an assist in three games and a plus-2 rating, while Briere has two game-winning goals and an assist.

    However, Roy probably saw that some of his other players needed a wake up call, and sometimes the best motivator is the fear of being benched. Sure enough, the fourth line — Briere’s usual spot — recorded five points. Nate Guenin, who replaced Redmond, laid four hits and blocked a shot for a plus-1 rating.

    As far as the other changes in the line combinations go, putting MacKinnon with veteran Jarome Iginla clearly worked as that netted him his second of the night. If that meant coach Roy had to break up the hot Tanguay-Duchene-Iginla line, well, the gamble paid off. Besides, while Alex Tanguay had a quiet night on the third line with rookie Dennis Everberg and John Mitchell, Duchene still managed to find scoring opportunities, earning assists on both McLeod’s and Johnson’s goals. Landeskog also earned an assist — he probably would have earned more if he could have stayed out of the penalty box.

    So, basically, the Colorado Avalanche team that played against the New York Islanders is the one we’ve been expecting since, basically, July 1. They’re not perfect — no team is. However, when they’re firing on all cylinders, or living up to their potential, they are winners.