Colorado Avalanche: Four Players to Watch as Season Begins

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche won a high scoring affair against the Stars on Saturday night, and a nail-biter against the Penguins on Monday night. Here’s four players that have been crucial to both of those wins, and will continue to be influential this season.

With two games in the books, and two wins to go along, the Colorado Avalanche are having a successful start to the season.

During both games, the Colorado Avalanche have come back from two goal deficits to start the game, and have showed a bunch of resilience.

In the first two games, four players have really stood out to me so far.

Mikhail Grigorenko, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, and Gabe Landeskog have all showed up big this season so far, and all four look like they’re set for big years.

Mikhail Grigorenko

Grigs has an assist in each of his first two games this season, registering both on the power play. However, he has also been particularly good defensively, and has been skating into all the right areas on the forecheck. I’ve already made it clear that Grigs is ready for a breakout season, but his first two games are proving that point more than anything:

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And, the way he has played during the first two games could mean a much bigger year than I was originally anticipating for Grigorenko.

Furthermore, he’s been real good on the power play, especially working the left point. On his first assist — against the Stars — Grigs had two great scoring chances before Colborne was able to slam the rebound home, and both came from him pinching in from the point.

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Grigs also lead the Avalanche in shots against the Stars with five, and even though he didn’t register a shot against the Pens, he made some great passes. None better than his pass to Landy on the power play. Witness:

Just a great cross-ice pass from Grigs that Landy rockets top shelf for the game-tying goal. Speaking of Gabe Landeskog, let’s give him the page.

Gabe Landeskog

All Colorado Avalanche fans know what Landy did in the game against the Penguins. The captain stepped up in a big way against the Pens, and his game against the Stars was real impressive as well. In both games he has been a wrecking ball on the forecheck, running over the opposition with force.

He now has three points in the first two games. His two goals against the Pens were huge though, and he showed a resolve worthy of captaincy.

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You already saw his game-tying goal on the power play, now here’s the game-winner:

That was just a nice “heads up” play by Landeskog, just barely glancing the puck off the top of Marc-Andre Fleury’s head. And, he ends the game on the first shift of overtime as well, which is even more important. The Penguins didn’t even possess the puck. End it before it even starts.

Speaking of “heads up,” that was a smart play by MacKinnon to just throw the puck on net.

Nathan MacKinnon

MacK has hands down been the best player on the ice in each of the two games to start the season. He’s been flying at both ends of the ice, and dominating by pushing the play and possessing the puck at a ridiculous rate.

However, It’s really not surprising how dominant MacK has been to be honest. After a real successful World Cup of Hockey, there were a lot of people expecting this from MacK.

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Anyway, Mack drew a penalty in the first period against the Penguins by skating around the zone with the puck for a good 15 seconds at least. Said penalty eventually lead to a goal for the Avalanche.

In both games, MacK has been easily recognizable with his play, and it was especially evident against the Penguins. Jared Bednar is certainly taking notice, mentioning him in his post game presser.

"I thought [Nathan] MacKinnon was outstanding, I thought he was a horse all night."

He’s registered four points in the first two games with one goal and three helpers. MacK also assisted on Landy’s game winner against the Penguins, and screened the goalie on Tyson Barrie’s game winner against the Stars.

Speaking of Tyson Barrie, let’s get to the final player on the list.

Tyson Barrie

Barrie is averaging 21:30 in time on ice so far this season, which is good for 3rd most on the team, and only barely behind Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin, who are each averaging around 22:30 in time on ice.

He also has three points through the first two games, including a game winning goal, and a real nice pass to Carl Soderberg in the first game, which lead to Soda’s breakaway goal.

That’s just a beauty of a pass that Soderberg easily finishes off.

Anyway, Barrie has also had a couple bad pinches this season so far that have lead to some opportunities for the opposition. He needs to shore up his defense a bit, but the offense is there.

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The new systems are really benefiting the defensemen, and Tyson Barrie is definitely reaping the rewards. He’s playing aggressively, and has been making smart decisions with the puck offensively. He hasn’t been bad in the defensive zone by any stretch, but he could certainly tighten that area of his game up a bit.


After starting the season on a two game winning streak, the Colorado Avalanche are in Washington D.C. to play the capitals tonight.

The Caps won the President’s Trophy last season, and are certainly a scary team to play. They’re currently 1-0-1 and haven’t played a game since Saturday, so they’ll be plenty rested.

Semyon Varlamov is scheduled to be in net against his former team, and the puck drop is at 5 pm MST.

The Avs should be looking to get off to a better start against the Caps so they don’t have to chase a lead early again. Even though they have shown resiliency in their first two match ups by overcoming two separate two goal deficits, they should certainly avoid that trend.

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However, with a quick turnaround, the Avalanche will need to be sharp.

Hopefully the team can get a well rounded effort from everyone because that will be what it takes to get a win in tonight’s match up.

Nonetheless, the four players mentioned above should also contribute to that effort. And, Avs fans certainly can’t forget about the fact that Matt Duchene has yet to find the scoresheet. Hopefully that changes tonight.

One more thing to keep in mind is the Avs had only one player above 24 minutes in the contest against the Penguins, Erik Johnson. Nathan MacKinnon was the only forward to eclipse the 17:30 mark in ice time with 19:44 on the ice. That means that the Avs should be relatively well rested for the contest tonight against the Caps.