Colorado Avalanche Season Review: Atlantic Division Splits


The Colorado Avalanche season in review continues with a look at how the team fared against the Atlantic Division. Interestingly, the Colorado Avalanche didn’t do too badly against their Atlantic Division foes, going 9-4-3.

As a Western Conference team, doing well against Eastern Conference teams only pads the points. However, the Eastern Conference is known for playing a more wide-open style, and that plays right into the Avalanche’s wheelhouse.

Interestingly, five of their eight series were split. So, let’s look at the Colorado Avalanche season against the Atlantic Division and what lessons the team can learn from the games.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panthers

The Colorado Avalanche earned three out of a possible four points.

The first game came in October, and it was one of those that foreshadowed how difficult the Avalanche would find it to win in overtime. This game wasn’t helped by the fact that the Avs took an overtime penalty, on which the Panthers capitalized. The Avalanche lost 4-3

The January game, played in Florida, was a better showing for the Avalanche. They not only got a power play goal (defenseman Nick Holden) — those had been so hard to come by — captain Gabriel Landeskog showed he was finally over his scoring slump. Holden’s goal, by the way, happened to be the game winner. The Avalanche won 4-2.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Colorado Avalanche season also featured a split with the Tampa Bay Lightning, again with the Avs taking three out of four available points.

The January shootout loss was a disheartening one. By then centers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene were showing their shootout prowess in general, yet only Duchene scored this time. Prior to that, the Avalanche had almost four minutes of consecutive power plays plus a power play in overtime, but they were unable to convert. The Avalanche lost 3-2.

The February win was as troubling as the loss was disheartening. Nathan MacKinnon earned his first NHL hat trick, it’s true, and the Avs won 5-4. However, the Avalanche had been up 5-2 midway through the third period, yet they gave up two goals, almost allowing the Bolts to tie the game. The Avs also only recorded 18 shots on net.

Nonetheless, let’s celebrate MacKinnon’s hat trick:

Colorado Avalanche vs. Ottawa Senators

With the Ottawa series, both teams won at home in regulation.

The Senators’ win came first, yet another October game the Avalanche couldn’t win. This game was a lesson in blown leads. Colorado scored every possible way in the first — even strength (winger Alex Tanguay), power play (Gabriel Landeskog) and short-handed (center John Mitchell). Yet they couldn’t maintain the lead. Ottawa scored four unanswered goals to win 5-3.

The Avalanche’s win was fun — I happened to be at that game, and it’s the one in which defenseman Erik Johnson earned the nickname Condor because of his skating style (smooth and predatory like a bird of prey).  Even though the Avalanche gave up way more shots than they took — 38 to 21 — goalie Semyon Varlamov was the equal to all but two of them. The Avs even got a power play goal (winger Jarome Iginla, his second of the night) and from two defensemen (Erik Johnson and Brad Stuart). Everything was coming up Avalanche as they won 5-2.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Again the Colorado Avalanche season benefited from their taking three of four points. Also another October loss — “Is it October yet?” became “Is October over yet?” for Avs fans.

The October loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs came in overtime with less than a minute left until the shootout. Toronto forward Phil Kessel — he’s dangerous whenever he’s on the ice, and the Avs were inattentive just long enough to allow him to score. The Avalanche lost 3-2.

The November game also went to extra hockey, in this case all the way to the shootout. The Avalanche mostly played a better game than Toronto, though they kept trading goals. When it got to the shootout, though, goalie Reto Berra was the equal of all but one shooter while MacKinnon, Duchene and Tanguay scored for the Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings

Feb 5, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) slashes his stick at Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Red Wings defeat the Avalanche 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, guess what the Avalanche did against the Detroit Red Wings — split the series. Guess when their loss came. Actually, in February, not October.

The two teams didn’t actually play for the first time until Decemeber, and it was a shootout win for Colorado. Two players got power play goals. One of them was a Red Wing, Pavel Datsyuk, but one of them was our own defenseman, Erik Johnson. The shootout went a ridiculous nine rounds, with goalies Calvin Pickard (Avalanche) and Petr Mrazek making things difficult on the shooters. Jarome Iginla finally prevailed for the Avalanche’s 2-1 win.

The 3-0 loss at home to Detroit… that was a tough pill to swallow. The rivalry between the two teams may be over, but we still don’t like to see the Avs to lose to the Red Wings. It was especially galling that captain Gabriel Landeskog’s goal was disallowed as it would have put the Avs up 1-0 and maybe changed the course of the game. Then, despite 6-on-4 play for part of the third period, the Avs gave up two empty-netters. Galling.


Besides the fact of so many split series, it’s interesting how many games were determined by one goal. It’s also interesting that the games against the Atlantic Division so exposed the Colorado Avalanche’s weaknesses — lack of power play production, low shot totals, inability to win in overtime. So, while the wide-open style of Eastern teams complements the Avalanche, they didn’t exactly dominate.


In these 10 games, the Avalanche went 5-2-2 — that’s not bad. They earned 13 out of 20 points. They padded their points against the right teams.

However, the Avalanche need to find a way to bring those numbers to their own Western Conference. As we explored last week, Colorado went 21-22-7 in the Western Conference and 14-12-4 within its own Central Division. When each of those games technically counts for four points — two actual and two preventative — a team has to have a winning record to make the playoffs.

Maybe they can take some of their Atlantic Division success to the Western Conference for the next Colorado Avalanche season.

More From Season Review

Chicago Blackhawks

Minnesota Wild

St. Louis Blues

Nashville Predators

Winnipeg Jets

Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

Next: The Hockey Handshake Line

More from Mile High Sticking