The Colorado Avalanche got a win in convincing fashion Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames. But, one win is a singular thing and the Avalanche are in dire need of plurality in that department. Will they be able to string some wins together?
The question is mostly unanswerable, even if you’re a proponent of advanced stats, which continue to point to losing hockey in Colorado. Fortunately, I am not, and I believe that it is rather impossible to quantify what adds up to winning hockey. Every year, a team who should not win ends up surprising the hockey world, and making the playoffs.
In 2013-14 it was the Colorado Avalanche. Last season it was the Calgary Flames. This season it’s shaping up to be the Dallas Stars, although their winning ways are not really that surprising with the key pieces they added over the season. However, the Stars’ season is of little interest to me unless it intersects at some pivotal juncture with the Avalanche’s opportunity to make the playoffs.
The point I’m meandering to is that there is at least one team that surprises the hockey world every year, which shows that advanced statistics are mired in a rather arbitrary existence. They apply when a team is playing awful, but can seem useless in the shock of a team winning that shouldn’t. Nonetheless, the pundits will be there at the collapse to jeer and say “we told you so”.
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Regardless, there is something intangible to the ways of winning, something that can’t be quantified by the tight constraints of numbers and statistics. This intangible dictates whether or not a team wins, not numbers that only reflect the obvious. If a team plays with an unfettered desire to win, balking at any deviation from this plan, then the numbers won’t matter.
Surely a good system assists in the production of the entire mechanism, but the cogs involved in that system have to whir with the efficiency of production, and a commitment to that production. In other words, this team needs to play with passion every night in order for the wins to pile up.
As quoted from a Denver Post article, Francois Beauchemin has even called for a streak to happen:
"“We’ll win four, five, six, seven in a row, he said. We do have a good team. We do have good players. It’s just a matter of executing a little better and paying the price a little more. I wasn’t here last year, but this is a good team and we’re going to get on a roll and be there at the end.”"
That was after the loss to Carolina. Since, the Colorado Avalanche have come out with two rather good showings. Unfortunately they lost another 1-goal game against the Sharks on Sunday (which involved another third period collapse), but they won 6-3 against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
The hope is that after last night’s contest — which featured a shorthand goal, a power play goal, and 4 even strength goals — the team can start pulling all aspects of their game together. If they do so, then it is very likely that they can gain some momentum down the road and bowl over some consecutive wins because they have yet to even win two in a row.
But, what does it take to win “four, five, six, seven in a row”?
Colorado Avalanche Chemistry
The top 2 lines finally seem to be set:
Alex Tanguay – Nathan MacKinnon – Jarome Iginla
Gabe Landeskog – Matt Duchene/Carl Soderberg – Carl Soderberg/Matt Duchene
And, they finally seem to be gaining some chemistry with one another. Reuniting Tanguay with Iginla is obvious, and slotting the speedy youngster between them provides some jump on an otherwise slow and precise line.
Carl Soderberg and Matt Duchene were both struggling at the center position this year. Aside from Duchene’s face-off percentage, which has been fantastic, he was struggling with his defensive assignments, and Soderberg was in a bad way with his even-strength play, but was playing well on the power play.
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However, putting these two on a line together — with one of the best power forwards in the game — proved to work well against San Jose late in the game, and culminated with some actual points against Calgary on Tuesday.
Duchene is able to roam the wing in the defensive zone while Soderberg uses his body to win puck battles behind the net. And it works vice versa in the offensive zone. Soderberg roams the wing, while Dutchy does what he does best behind the net and in the corners of the offensive zone. Plus, Landy keeps playing his game no matter who he plays with, and it finally seems to be getting Duchene going.
Speaking of chemistry, there seems to be a healthy battle between Duchene and MacKinnon over production, or at least a little push from MacK to Duchene:
"“Our top-six was good as well. Two goals from [Duchene’s] line, three from ours, I think. It’s what we’re going to need; our best players need to be our best if we’re going to get the season going and get some more wins.”"
MacKinnon knows he’s playing well, and I’m sure he’s mighty aware of Duchene’s early season frustration. So, he’s saying: hey, my line had another good game tonight, as it’s had most nights, but Duchene’s line showed up as well, and that’s when we play at our best.
What else does it take to get a winning streak going though?
Colorado Avalanche Need Confidence
A streak starts with two wins in a row, and the Colorado Avalanche have still yet to pull that feat early in this season. Nonetheless we’re 12 games in and it’s time that these sort of things start to happen. Confidence builds from these sort of events, and it’s obvious that this team is very dependent on the throws of confidence.
As I have previously mentioned, expectation and the start of a season can impact a team’s introspective understanding of themselves. The opening game against Minnesota has dictated the start of this team’s season as they continuously lose games in the third period. Perhaps they’re a little slower to react and change the disappointing features of their hockey games, but it’s time they did.
MacKinnon stated this well after Tuesday night’s game:
"“We’ve got four wins under our belt now, he said. We hit the reset button on the season. We’ve got 70 more to play solid hockey and see where we’re at. Obviously, it’s only 12 games in, so we’re not going to hit the panic button quite yet. Some initiative needed to be taken, [and] I thought everybody stepped up tonight.”"
“Some initiative needed to be taken”, indeed good sir, indeed. While some teams have 4 wins under their belt, others have 10 (Dallas), and the Colorado Avalanche needed to hit the reset button. They are now 1-0, and it’s time for them to build on that result and put a streak of wins together.
What’s on Tap for the Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche go back on the road tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, and this time they go for the long haul as they will play 8 out of their next 9 games on the road. The lone home game comes tomorrow night against the New York Rangers on a back-to-back.
The Arizona Coyotes have certainly had a better start to their season than the Colorado Avalanche, but their team is in the full rebuild, which the Colorado Avalanche are apparently not doing. If that is the case, then tonight must be a win, especially if they actually want to string some wins together.
Next, the Avalanche will play a tough game against the Rangers in back-to-back. The Rangers are off to another grand start, and Henrik Lundqvist is standing on his head with his hands tied behind his back most nights. So, these next two games will certainly be difficult tests for the Colorado Avalanche, but if they can put a few wins together, then fans could see a necessary turn around for their team.
What do you thinks Avs Nation? Will the Colorado Avalanche be able to put some wins together and get a streak going? Or will they continue to play middling to disappointing hockey? Your opinion is always valued so voice it in the comments!