Colorado Avalanche Still Have Room for Improvement

Oct 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Joe Colborne (8) is acknowledged for his hat trick next to Avalanche mascot Bernie following the game against Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Joe Colborne (8) is acknowledged for his hat trick next to Avalanche mascot Bernie following the game against Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche came away with a 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars to open their season. They come away with a lot of positives, but also areas to improve on.

My journey to the Colorado Avalanche home opener did not involve driving from Montana, like what my editor, Ross, ensured. But we did have travel obstacles of our own: Speer Boulevard.

Related Story: Opening Night is Here!

What happens when you combine the home opener traffic with Elitch Garden’s Fright Fest traffic? A deadlock, that’s what. After moving a few car lengths every five minutes, we ditched our Uber and booked it on foot. We only just missed the first Dallas goal as we sprinted up the Pepsi Center steps.

What followed was one of the most entertaining hockey games I’ve seen in a while, especially at Pepsi Center. The new North-South style of the Avs was on display, and the Stars came out showing why they won the Central last year.

Our Avs came away with the win, and showed why this season is full of promise, but also showed some areas to improve.  Let’s discuss!

“Yes, good hockey player. Continue to do that thing, hockey player. “


With the exception of the first few minutes, the Colorado Avalanche out-possessed the Stars for the entire game. God, that feels SO good to say. I’m going to say it again. The Colorado Avalanche out-possessed the Dallas Stars for an entire game. THE COLORADO AVALANCHE OUT-POSSESSED THE DALLAS STARS FOR THE ENTIRE GAME! LOOK AT THIS GRAPH! BASK IN ITS’ SPLENDOR!

“Wow Mark, numbers first? How boring!”

Yeah, I know; there were plenty of awesome crazy plays in this game that could be the number one good thing I talk about, but with this being Coach Bednar’s first season, I’m going to be staring a LOT at possession stats this year.

It’s sort of a given that a new coach is going to give a team a boost, no matter the system they implement. However, possession stats such as Corsi are usually a pretty good indicator of how sustainable the success of a coach can be.

It’s early in the season. There’s 81 more games to go. But as far as first impressions go, out-possessing last season’s division champ is a good look for Bednar.

Joe Colborne

 We all knew this was coming, right? Colborne was signed to provide some depth up front, and chip in some goals every now and then. I think it’s safe to say he’s already on the path to do more than that.

Scoring a hat trick in his first game wearing burgundy and blue, this former DU Pioneer made a great first impression in his return to Denver. Two of his goals came from battling and not giving up on the play, doing everything in his power to put the puck in the net.

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If Colborne keeps up this level of tenacity, I think it’s safe to say he’ll be a staple on our power play unit for a long, long, time. Speaking of the power play….

Power Play

 Two of Colborne’s goals came on the power play! So that’s cool, right?

Wrong. That’s awesome. Two goals on the power play is the total amount of power play goals the Avs had for the entire preseason. To come out in the home opener and already be tied with their preseason total shows they put the extended break before the opener to good use.

For a team that struggled on the power play mightily last year, being able to convert on the man advantage is extremely important for a team looking to earn a playoff spot. Let’s hope we continue to see this evolve as a strength.

MacKinnon and Duchene

Nathan MacKinnon was just flying all over the ice, and looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat since the World Cup of Hockey. He registered a goal and an assist on the night, and won 53% of his faceoffs. So far, MacK is proving why he gets paid the big bucks.

Dutchy didn’t register any points, but he did register three shots on goal, and win a whopping 83% of his faceoffs. Hopefully we’ll see some point production out of Dutchy soon, but he’s definitely working hard out there!

“No, stop that. Bad. No. Stop”

Francois Beauchemin

Damnit Frank, I just wrote about how you deserve to be an alternate captain, and this is how you repay me?

Related Story: Alternate Capatains Right for Team

My fellow writer, Daniel Henderson, even went so far as to give Beauchemin an ‘F’ for the night due to his play. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it was certainly something to be desired.

Related Story: Season Opener Grades

Without discussing his play on the whole, there was one play that had me out of my seat screaming at Beauchemin: the second Dallas goal.

After failing to keep the puck in the offensive end and creating a 2-on-1, Beauch is lazy on the back-check, and then decides to hook Joe Colborne for some reason, even though Joe is basically trying to do Beauchemin’s job.

This kind of slop absolutely cannot happen from your alternate captain, so hopefully we see him clean up his game and hustle to help his teammates.

Defense and/or Goaltending

Five goals is a lot of goals to give up. Yes, I know we got six, but five is still far too many. Was the defense to blame? Was Varly having an off-night?

I think it was a combination of the two. Varly let in some soft goals, and there were definitely some defensive lapses that caused the rest. When the defense wasn’t being aggressive (as dictated by Bednar’s system), that’s when trouble typically occurred.

With Pickard starting against Pittsburgh, we may get a better idea of where the central problem lies.

Bonus: Organ Player Watch

As you may be aware, I had very few nice things to say about last year’s organ player:

Related Story: Good Riddance, Organist

After hearing some preseason reports that the new guy was even worse, I wasn’t expecting great things in that department.

Surprisingly, though, the bearded fellow exceeded expectations by being a slight improvement from last year. While he should probably double-check the notes to The Adams Family, his technical skill was satisfactory, and his rendition of Toccata and Fugue was acceptable.

I give him a C+, in hopes that he continues to improve over the season.


The Avs won their home opener, something they haven’t done for two straight years. While they have their issues to work on, the future of this team looks promising!