Colorado Avalanche Season in Review: Atlantic Division


Last week we looked at the splits between the Colorado Avalanche and their Atlantic Division opponents. There were a surprising amount of split series — five of the eight series in fact. This week we’re looking at the remaining three series which were decided in a much more, well, decisive fashion.

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 Montreal Canadiens

Dec 1, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) and Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) battle for the puck in the third period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Oh how the Colorado Avalanche want to beat head coach Patrick Roy’s original team, and oh how they fail. They lost both preseason games and, more damagingly, both regular season games. Both games were oh-so-close, too.

The first game was one of those in that terrible October. It was also one of those in which the Avalanche took the second period off. You can’t do that with a good team like the Montreal Canadiens, and they made the Avs pay with three second-period goals in a row. Matt Duchene scored late in the third, but the Avs still lost 3-2.

The December game was a lesson in blowing leads. While the Habs went up first, former Canadien Daniel Briere tied with less than a minute left in the first. Center Ryan O’Reilly put the Avalanche up just to see Montreal tie on a power play. Offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie gave it a go, but really offensive defenseman P.K. Subban tied the gale just a few minutes later. When the Habs took the lead in the third, that was it for the Avs. Colorado lost 4-3.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Buffalo Sabres

When teams are… well, not good like the Buffalo Sabres, the Colorado Avalanche should have no trouble beating them. However, that should have been the case with the eventual Connor McDavid Sweepstakes winners, the Edmonton Oilers, but the Avalanche season ended in a split series with them.

With the Buffalo Sabres, though, who finished dead last in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche won the series soundly with scores of 5-1 and 5-3. As Avalanche center Matt Duchene would say, Colorado “put the boot on the throat, the nail in the coffin” of the Sabres.

The two games were examples of the big names for the Avalanche coming up big. In the 10 goals scored, Colorado received tallies from Duchene, veteran Alex Tanguay (two), cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson and marquee defenseman Tyson Barrie. Center John Mitchell recorded a goal in each game, and alternate captain Cody McLeod scored a short-handed goal.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Boston Bruins

This series was the feather in the Colorado Avalanche’s cap as far as the Atlantic Division went. Last year the only team that shut the Avalanche out were the Boston Bruins. This year the Avalanche beat Boston in both games.

The two games were tight. The first victory of the Colorado Avalanche season came from a goal by forward Daniel Briere that came with, literally, less than a second left on the clock:

In the second game, Colorado showed some of that old black magic by tying the game late on a goal from Ryan O’Reilly. The Avs had pulled the goalie early to tie the game. They went on to win in the shootout on a bit more of the black magic, a goal from center Nathan MacKinnon and shutdown performance from goalie Semyon Varlamov.


While it’s not imperative for the standings, the Colorado Avalanche have got to find a way to beat the Montreal Canadiens. Otherwise, the games against the Sabres and the Bruins prove that the Avalanche can do what winners do — they can be merciless against weaker opponents and prevail in one-goal games. They simply have to find a way to do that against Montreal — Avs Nation’s heart depends on it.

Next: Player Profile: Daniel Briere

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