Colorado Avalanche: What to Expect Opening Night

Oct 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a save on a Dallas Stars shot during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a save on a Dallas Stars shot during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
Colorado Avalanche
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche are set to hit the ice on Saturday October 15 against the Dallas Stars. What should Avs fans expect from opening night?

The NHL season got underway Wednesday night, and the Colorado Avalanche will start their season on Saturday night.

What should Avs fans expect from the opening night roster now that the NHL season is finally here?

All expectations concerning the Colorado Avalanche start with the systems, and the style of play that Jared Bednar wants them to utilize.

Related Story: Avs Fans Can Expect an Uptempo and Active Team

In other words, both the defensive and offensive systems will be based on five man support, and quick decisions that involve moving the puck up the ice.

However, how will these new systems be executed when the puck is dropped on opening night?

Looking for Player Development Expectations? Look No Further

Since I’m not going to be talking about specific players in this article, I figured I’d provide you guys with some articles detailing a few player expectations, if you’re interested.

Related Story: Avs Duchene Likely to Play Wing; Adds Versatility

Related Story: MacK is Ready for the NHL Season

Related Story: Mikhail Grigorenko is Set for a Breakout Season

And, there are some other articles — written by my esteemed colleagues — on MHS about player expectations for this season as well.

Related Story: Tyson Barrie's Case for the Norris

Related Story: Cody McLeod's Swan Song

Related Story: Rene Bourque Adds Veteran Presence and Versatility on the Wing

In other words, if you’re here for player expectations then I’m sorry because this post is about the team. Not what sort of goaltending fans can expect, or the offensive and defensive performances fans can expect, but instead what sort of expectations fans can expect from the team as a whole. Let’s get started shall well?

The Colorado Avalanche breezed through the preseason, ending up as the only undefeated team in the NHL. However, there are still some adjustments they need to make for opening night. 

Colorado Avalanche Special Teams Need Help

The Avalanche were extremely proficient on the penalty kill during the preseason — killing all the penalties they faced. At one point — after the Stars game — that total was 21/21. However, since there are no stats for the Kings game available, I don’t know what that total ended up being.

Nonetheless, expect the penalty kill success to continue for the Colorado Avalanche, especially because Nolan Pratt is running that system. However, the power play has been the exact opposite from the penalty kill, and Tim Army may have something to do with that, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

More from Mile High Sticking

Once again — after the Stars game — the power play total was 2/19, but, as I said, there are no stats available for the Kings game online so I’m not sure what the final numbers were. Nonetheless, they didn’t score on the power play during the Kings game, and the power play is definitely a concern.

Here’s what Bednar had to say about the power play after the Kings game, according to the Colorado Avalanche website.

"We got some work to do there, to me we look a little bit out of sync. We’re going to spend some time on it this week for sure. [There’s a] little bit too much individual effort maybe, instead of working as a unit… We can start with working for a good shot, and getting it off, getting some pucks in traffic to the net, and then go from there instead of looking for the perfect play all the time. So, those are things we’ll talk about this week, and our units are going to change a little bit too. There were some good things too, we just need to be more consistent."

Notice how he doesn’t mention the “good things” (this is from his post-game presser). In other words, the power play has not been good this season, and it’s a topic I addressed in a different post.

Related Story: Avs Need to Get the Power Play Going

Bednar seems to think he can remedy the power play situation before the season starts, but if the power play stays in the hands of Tim Army, that might be impossible. Army ran the power play for the Avs last season, and they were middling all season, while also failing to score a single five on three power play goal.

Hopefully Bednar can get the power play going because if the Avs could sport a successful power play along with their suppressive 5-on-5 and penalty kill execution, then they’d be sporting the whole gambit.

Let’s move onto something more positive eh?

Avs Sporting Depth on all Lines and Pairings

Since when could you say this about the Colorado Avalanche?

Currently, the top two forward lines for the Colorado Avalanche are expected to be:

  • Gabe Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Jarome Iginla
  • Mikhail Grigorenko – Carl Soderberg – Matt Duchene

Which means that players like: Blake Comeau, Joe Colborne, Mikko Rantanen, Rene Bourque, Gabriel Bourque, John Mitchell*, and Andreas Martinsen will be spread between the bottom two lines. That’s some forward depth, I don’t care what you say.

More From Mile High Sticking: Avs Strong Start Likely to Continue

*If he’s ready, John Mitchell should be in the lineup and Ben Smith would likely get sent to the AHL. If not, I expect Smith to start the season as fourth line center and Martinsen to get the scratch. 

How about a third line like this:

  • Comeau/Rantanen – Colborne – Rantanen/Comeau

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

However, haven’t the Avs always had forward depth? No, not really since the departure of Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly in consecutive years. Nonetheless, the emphasis has always been on the defensive depth. Luckily, the Colorado Avalanche have a ton of defensive depth this year as well.

Here’s how the defensive pairings are currently expected to shake-out:

  • Nikita Zadorov – Erik Johnson
  • Francois Beauchemin – Tyson Barrie
  • Fedor Tyutin – Patrick Wiercioch
  • Extra: Eric Gelinas

For once, the Colorado Avalanche actually have some legitimate depth on their blue line. And, they also have Chris Bigras and Duncan Siemens waiting in the minors for when injury inevitably strikes.


The season is set to begin for the Colorado Avalanche, and it’s already begun for a good amount of teams in the league.

So, are you looking for a legitimate season preview? FanSided kind of has this pretty cool one right here.

It’s a nice way to navigate all the FanSided hockey sites and see what other writers are saying about the NHL.

Next: Avs Erik Johnson Overlooked as Alternate Captain

Anyway, Saturday is just around the corner; special teams and line depth figure to be important keys to success. The performance of individual players will also factor into that success. However, the Avalanche should also emphasize a focus on team play, and rolling four lines.

It’s tough to watch other teams make their debut knowing that the Avs’ debut seems so distant. But, watching Auston Matthews score four goals last night was a treat, and the Blues and Hawks played a tough fought game as well.

Nonetheless, opening night is the sacred event that all Avalanche fans crave, and it’s only a few days away.