Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing the Preseason Schedule

Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) attempts to score on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) as defenseman Erik Johnson (6) defends from behind in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) attempts to score on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) as defenseman Erik Johnson (6) defends from behind in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have released their preseason schedule. The team will play six exhibition games starting on September 27 and finishing on October 8.

The Colorado Avalanche have been even quieter than usual. Usually GM Joe Sakic holds a press conference six weeks after the team’s final game — in this case, the end of the regular season. However, here it is eight weeks out, and there has been little news from the Avs.

There have been a few moves. Colorado signed some if its prospects, including Julien Nantel, JT Compher, Sergei Boikov and Anton Lindholm. The team also fired the AHL-affiliate head coach, Dean Chynoweth and may have made some personnel changes, as reported here:

Related Story: Staff & Potential Goalie Changes

Other than that, though — nada. Some big tasks that should be coming up are signing restricted free agents Calvin Pickard, Nathan MacKinnon and, of course, the suddenly-controversial Tyson Barrie.

Today, the Colorado Avalanche have made a little splash in Avs Nation by announcing their preseason schedule. Here’s how it shakes out:

  • September 27: Avalanche at Wild
  • September 28: Stars at Avalanche
  • September 30: Kings at Avalanche
  • October 4: Wild at Avalanche
  • October 5: Avalanche at Stars
  • October 8: Avalanche at Kings

While the schedule is pretty straightforward — none of those dual games teams sometimes play on the same night — there are still some immediate reactions.

Immediate Reaction to the Colorado Avalanche Schedule

The Colorado Avalanche are going to start their preseason by playing the Minnesota Wild in Minnesota and then host them for the final game of their preseason home stand. That means that, rather than wait for opening night to let the Wild get into their heads, they can start the preseason already mental!

Now, you’ll notice that the preseason — and thus the regular season — starts later than usual to accommodate the World Cup of Hockey that runs from September 17 to October 1. That actually works in the Avalanche’s favor for that first game against the Wild.

See, all of the Avalanche core — Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, Semyon Varlamov and Nathan MacKinnon — are going to be playing in the World Cup during that preseason opener in Minnesota. That means prospects and role players will be playing. They won’t have as much of a history with the Wild, and it won’t matter if anything happens during the game to make them go mental. They won’t be able to really affect the Avs’ regular season.

The World Cup finishes on October 1, which means the first game for which all the core players will be available is that October 4th home game against the Minnesota Wild. That could go very badly indeed.

Head coach Patrick Roy could go a couple ways with that game. He might give the players who were in the World Cup all the way to the finals the night off. That would most likely be Matt Duchene and either Erik Johnson or Gabriel Landeskog (and Carl Soderberg, who’s also playing for Sweden). That still leaves MacKinnon and Varlamov to face the Wild.

Coach Roy could also play all the players both to give them some ice time at home and to start building chemistry.

In case you’re wondering, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek are Wild players representing in the World Cup. Only Erik Johnson will be playing side by side with Wild players (Parise and Suter). (Unless you think Mikkel Boedker will still be an Avalanche next season — he’ll be skating with Vanek.)

Secondary Reaction

In the last couple years, the Colorado Avalanche have faced the same teams during the preseason — the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings. This season only the Kings are returning as preseason foes. It’s going to be weird not seeing the Ducks and Flames in Pepsi Center.

Besides the Wild, the Avalanche are facing the Dallas Stars as replacement preseason foes. Colorado has had good luck against Dallas in recent seasons. There is one game before and one after the World Cup. Five Stars — Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Ales Hemsky, Radek Faksa (rookie/prospect) and Esa Lindell (prospect) are competing.

Colorado also has one game before and one after the World Cup against the LA Kings. Los Angeles has six players in that tournament — Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.

The October 8th game is actually the Frozen Fury that takes place in Las Vegas every year, this time taking place at the brand new T-Mobile Arena. The Kings and Avalanche have faced off 16 (out of 19) times in this game. However, this may mark the last Frozen Fury in Vegas as the city is tagged for expansion — or possibly a relocated team.

Next: Avs Takeaways from the Stars

Predictions for the Preseason

It’s probably way too early to make concrete predictions about the preseason results since we don’t know who the Colorado Avalanche are going to draft and acquire via free agency or trade. However, if the Avs’ core remains the same, I can venture a pretty good guess. The team will only win two games.

Colorado can take one of the Kings games, maybe even Frozen Fury. The Avalanche have gone 7-9 in this exhibition game.

I could see Colorado winning one of the games against the Dallas Stars. I don’t know if it would be the home or away game — maybe the away game. They’ll still be smarting after the loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Because, yeah, I don’t see Colorado beating the Wild in the preseason — unless they do so with prospects in that very first game.

However, even if Colorado only wins in Dallas and in Frozen Fury, that’s not too bad — those are the last two games of the preseason. And the team is sure to be rolling mostly core players. That would be a pretty good way to enter the 2016-17 regular season.