Appreciating Colorado Avalanche Hockey


Well, Avs Nation, 13 games into the 2014-15 season, and I think it’s safe to say we expected the Colorado Avalanche to be different. With their 3-5-5 record, the Avs are dead last in the division. Granted, it’s still somewhat early in the season, but… there’s the lack of scoring… the inconsistent play across all levels…

The cold hard truth is that either the Avalanche are going to turn the season around or they’re not, but we as fans can do nothing about it. It’s the helplessness of being a fan. We can try and diagnose and fix the problem, but, really, how can we think we know better than the experts in charge of the team and the professionals on the ice? Might as well enter an operating room and tell the surgeon how to remove a brain tumor because you watch a lot of medical dramas.

Never mind that, because there is absolutely something that we, as fans, have control over — how we enjoy the game. I’m going to write what I appreciate about Colorado Avalanche hockey. I hope you’ll do the same in the comment section below — or at least in your own mind.

Matt Duchene’s Intensity

Sometimes you can almost sense Dutchy’s passion for hockey — intensity is tattooed in his blood. You see it in the way he hunches over his stick as he shoots down the ice — he actually uses a shorter stick than usual because he likes the control it affords him.

Dutchy’s a little like the Road Runner, don’t you think? His skates start cycling while he stays in place, then all of a sudden he shoots down the ice. Recently, during the San Jose Sharks game, Duchene chipped the puck into the offensive zone. A bit fed up by the lack of shooting, I grumbled, “C’mon, don’t dump and cha-” I didn’t even finish my thought — Don’t dump and chase because you never regain possession — as Dutchy had already shot past the Sharks and corralled the puck.

During another game, the hockey announcer started to say, “Iginla and Duchene on a two-on-one,” but he had to stop and amend, “Duchene on a breakaway.” Dutchy on a breakaway is such a delight for the hockey eyes.

Duchene is famous for doing “The Dutchy,” that between the legs pass to himself before shooting the puck. However, in my mind his signature move is the net spin-o-rama. Quite often when he’s behind the net, he spins, does a little jig and takes a shot on net from what seems an impossible angle:

That’s what I call the Dutchy.

Erik Johnson’s Skating

EJ’s my favorite Avalanche player for several reasons — not least of which is his snarkiness. However, my favorite aspect of his hockey is his skating. I’ve never seen anyone skate quite as smoothly and powerfully as he does, though vintage Jaromir Jagr comes close. EJ’s like a cross between a panther and a racehorse on skates:

In fact, Johnson’s skating has become instantly identifiable to me. So much so that, last season, I saw his usual defensive partner, Jan Hejda, on the ice and I looked for EJ. I saw the right hand defenseman motoring up the ice, and my first thought was, “Oh my God, what’s wrong with Erik Johnson? Why’s he skating like that?” Turns out it was Tyson Barrie — sorry, but that was a truthful reaction.

However, speaking of T-Bear…

Tyson Barrie’s Cuddliness

I get a little annoyed that Tyson can’t keep the puck in the O-zone to save his life, but his smiling face on the ice makes me happy — because he always looks so happy.

Of course, I love his clutch play. There’s something very satisfying about watching T-Bear score a last minute goal:

Truthfully, though, isn’t his seemingly airbrushed face just icing on the cake?

The Power Forward in Gabriel Landeskog

Our captain is a Viking. Take his helmet off, and he’s compared to Prince Charming or a Swedish model. (Apparently he actually got scouted as a model once when he was shopping for a suit!) Helmet on, though, and he’s got the strength and ferocity of one of his ancestors. While it’s inconvenient when the Avs have to go on the penalty kill, it’s funny that Landy keeps getting called for slashing and roughing penalties.

My favorite was when he tackled Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu like he’d been raised on American football. Unfortunately, no one on Youtube agrees with me, so here’s a fight he had with Alex Chiasson of the Dallas Stars:

I’m pretty sure Swedish models don’t scrap like that.

There’s plenty more to love about Colorado Avalanche hockey, even when it doesn’t result in a win. So, Avs Nation, what do you appreciate about our boys in burgundy and blue?