Avalanche Opening Night: Why Colorado Should be Confident


Ok, the Frozen Fury debacle in which the Colorado Avalanche bowed to the Los Angeles Kings stung. The skaters only managed 14 shots on net, and backup goalie Reto Berra looked like a sieve at times. But, we have to remember to implement the Cinderella Rule that worked so well in the Why Not Us season — no feeling too high or too low after midnight.

Well, Saturday’s midnight is long past. Instead, we need to look ahead to opening night. Against the Minnesota Wild.

Now, last season the now-retired Daniel Briere remarked the team that could maintain its nerves would be the one to take the game. That was certainly true as our young core got shut out 5-0 in Minnesota, went mental and got shut out 3-0 in front of the home crowd.

It may seem that the dismal Frozen Fury performance and that bit of history would conspire to make opening night a reason for trepidation. As our beloved, French-speaking coach Patrick Roy would say, au contraire.

Let’s see why.

It Already Happened

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As I observed in a previous post, the worst already happened. Not only did the Minnesota Wild shut out the Colorado Avalanche in the two home openers, the team blanked them a third time and beat them a fourth time. That’s after the terrible playoff series in which one of their goons (thankfully gone now) took out Tyson Barrie before the team eliminated Colorado from the playoffs.

That’s all been answered, though. Our captain punched their captain, our enforcer fought a couple of their guys, and the Avalanche won the last game of the series.

See, you’re normally fearful of the unknown. However, the Avalanche already know how badly it stinks to have a team run over you like the Wild did from playoffs to February. And they triumphed.

So, there’s no need to go into Thursday’s game fearful or nervous. This group of guys has already faced down this particular demon.

Which brings me to the next point…

The Young Core is the Same

Except for the subtraction of Ryan O’Reilly, the young core of key players is the same:

  • Matt Duchene
  • Nathan MacKinnon
  • Gabriel Landeskog
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Erik Johnson
  • Semyon Varlamov

However, they’re not so young anymore. None of them are even teenagers anymore! A couple of them are closer to 30 than 20!

Three of them are even coming off a victory during which they earned gold medals at IIHF Worlds.

Not only that, but the more seasoned core is roughly the same as well — Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, John Mitchell, Cody McLeod and Brad Stuart. Say what you will about those last couple, they’re not exactly known for succumbing to nerves.

Plus, some of the new blood we’ve acquired has come from the Eastern Conference — Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov. None of them are going to be prone to Central Division jitters. Neither is Francois Beauchemin — I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more even keel individual.

Patrick Roy vs…. Mike Yeo is Laughable

Hall of Fame player vs former AHL goon, Jack Adams winner vs a coach constantly on the hot seat.

It pains me to even have to talk about the two men in the same paragraph. We have Patrick Roy as our head coach. The Minnesota Wild do not. They also don’t have another worthy such as Ken Kitchcock, Bruce Boudreau, Mike Babcock or even one of the up-and-coming such as Barry Trotz or Bob Hartley.

They have Mike Yeo. If you want to know why that’s so laughable, read this.

We Have More Stars!

I was talking to a Minnesota Wild fan the other day, and I asked if he thought his team was Cup-bound. His immediate response “No.” Surprised, I asked why, and he responded that the team had hardly anybody. There’s Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and… a whole lot of hopefuls. (Don’t hate on me — this was his observation, not mine.)

It’s true, though. It’s also true that, thanks to the draft and a couple off-season signings, the Colorado Avalanche is pretty star-studded. I mean, you can choose — do you want to counter Zach Parise with a future Hall of Famer (Iginla), a man who got the Cup-winning goal (Tanguay) or a young phenom (MacKinnon)? Or Matt Duchene?

As far as Suter goes, counter him with Johnson or Barrie, as you like. Personally, I like to counter him with Nikita Zadorov, as in (Robert Downey Jr voice), “You have Ryan Suter, but we have a wild Russian mustang. Yeah.”

Colorado Avalanche hockey is just more exciting than Minnesota Wild hockey.

So, are the Colorado Avalanche going to beat the Minnesota Wild on opening night? Boy, we all sure hope so. We all sure hope our stars display the talent of which they’re capable. We can feel confident, though, that they’re not going to go mental again. They’re going to be focused and ready to take on this rival.

And it’s going to be an exciting game to watch. Avalanche hockey is back, Avs Nation.

Next: Etiquette Guide for Wild Fans

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