Colorado Avalanche: 3 Storylines vs New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Nathan MacKinnon
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Nathan MacKinnon /

The Colorado Avalanche face the New York Rangers in New York for both team’s season opener.

The Colorado Avalanche start out their season with a three-game roadie to the East Coast. Their first stop is historic Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers.

Our sister site, Blue Line Station, held an exclusive interview with NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes concerning the state of the Rangers this year. Basically, the team is young but has a vastly improved blueline. And they still have future Hall of Fame goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Last season Colorado lost both their games against the Rangers. Overall the Colorado Avalanche have gone 18-13-1(tie) against the New York Rangers. Fun fact: Whenever the game goes to extra hockey, Colorado wins, or at least ties.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: 5:00 PM MT
TV Networks: Altitude (Avs feed), MSG (Rangers feed)
Radio Network: Altitude Sports Radio
Avalanche Watch Party: Blake Street Tavern

Newness Factor

The Colorado Avalanche will be dressing four players with under a year of NHL experience — Alex Kerfoot, J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost and Chris Bigras (with Andrei Mironov a healthy but equally green scratch). Kerfoot has never played an NHL game, and the other three have never played in Madison Square Garden.

That’s noteworthy — Madison Square Garden is the most storied hockey rink still in use. What’s more, East Coast fans, especially New Yorkers, are renowned for being rowdy. Add to that the fact that tonight is the home opener for the Rangers… well, it’s going to be an intimidating game for those youngsters, who probably already have nerves about playing in their first season opener (and NHL-career opener in Kerfoot’s case).

There’s also another newness factor — only eight of tonight’s Avalanche skaters were with Colorado in their season opener last year. Four of the remaining 12 who are dressing for the Avs have never played a regular season game with Colorado: Nail Yakupov, Colin Wilson, Alex Kerfoot and Patrik Nemeth.

Speaking of that last one…

Patrik Nemeth, What?

The Colorado Avalanche defensive pairings looked pretty set right up until two days ago:

Erik Johnson-Anton Lindholm

Tyson Barrie-Mark Barberio

Chris Bigras-Nikita Zadorov

Andrei Mironov was the odd man out.

Then, the Colorado Avalanche went and snapped defenseman Patrick Nemeth up from the waiver wire (Dallas Stars), shipped Lindholm off to the AHL, and thrust the new guy into the top four. Now the pairings are supposed to look like this:

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At least newbie Nemeth got in a practice with the team yesterday.

I love that the Condor and Big Z the Destroyer are going to start out the season together (and hope it lasts the duration of the year).

Nemeth is known for being a big, shutdown defenseman that’s not in the Avs New Style of speedy puck movers (though he’s pretty decent at that).

I’m just surprised that speedy puck mover Mark Barberio got booted to the third pairing and speedy puck mover Anton Lindholm got booted to the AHL. It’s almost like Colorado does value size after all…

Avalanche Hockey is Back!

The Colorado Avalanche are entering their redemption season. We all know how last year went — worst record in the salary cap era, losing the Draft Lottery, coaches admitting they went too soft on players, players admitting they burned out mid-season…

Well, we had a long offseason with no hockey. We had an exciting preseason in which we’ve seen what the Avs New Style promises. And starting tonight, we get to see if our team is going to redeem itself.

Next: Bold Predictions for the Avs' 2017-18 Season

Do I think the Colorado Avalanche are going to win? My gut reaction is no. They’re simply facing too good and too seasoned of a New York Rangers team in an historic building. (Fun fact — two of their defensemen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Nick Holden, used to be Avs.) However, I fully expect the Avalanche to acquit themselves well.