Colorado Avalanche: 3 Storylines vs Boston in Bruins Series

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 08: Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) and Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell (7) face off during a regular season NHL game between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche on December 8, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Avalanche defeated the Bruins 4-2. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 08: Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) and Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell (7) face off during a regular season NHL game between the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche on December 8, 2016, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Avalanche defeated the Bruins 4-2. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The two Colorado Avalanche games against the Boston Bruins should be exciting, fast-paced affairs. Hopefully the Avs can sort out some of their issues.

The Colorado Avalanche face the Boston Bruins in two games right at the beginning of the season. The Avalanche conclude their road trip in Boston on Monday, October 9, then host the Bruins for their own home opener on October 11.

So far, the Colorado Avalanche have split their road series. The took their season opener against the New York Rangers 4-2. They then dropped New Jersey’s season opener 4-1.

Colorado split the series against Boston last season, with Colorado winning the second matchup 4-2 on December 8. The Colorado Avalanche are 19-10-1(tie) against the Boston Bruins all time. The two teams have played extra hockey three times, and Colorado prevailed in all three games.

The Monday game is early because it’s Columbus Day, and apparently the Bruins traditionally play a matinee game on Columbus Day. Fun fact: in five out of the last 10 years, Colorado has played in Boston on Columbus Day. They’ve won four Columbus Day games in a row .

How to Enjoy the Games

Game time: October 9, 11 am MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), New England Sports Network (Bruins feed), Sports Network 1
Radio: Altitude Radio

Game time: October 11, 7:30 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), New England Sports Network (Bruins feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio

Goalies Can’t Do It All

The Colorado Avalanche have ever over-relied on their goalies. It’s common knowledge that Semyon Varlamov stole the golden 2013-14 season with his phenomenal play.

Well, he’s been brilliant again. He allowed only two goals in the opening night against the New York Rangers. He faced 39 shots — his save percentage was .949, which is incredible.

Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier was no slouch. He faced 39 shots as well and stopped 35. He also made some highlight-reel saves:

But relying on the goalie every night is not a recipe for success. Varlamov is the starter against Boston, but the Avs are going to need to give him some support.

No, Really, What’s Up with the Specialty Teams

After two games, the Colorado Avalanche are one in 11 for the power play. That’s a 9.1% which is “good” for 25th in the NHL. They’re only at 50% for the penalty kill, which is dead last in the NHL.

Here’s how center Nathan MacKinnon put it after the loss to the Devils:

"“I think the biggest thing was our power play, [and] we weren’t very good on the PK. I mean our special teams has been letting us down the first two games of the season.”"

More from Mile High Sticking

Sounds about right.

Concerning the power play, Colorado has had a tough time setting up. When they do get set up, defenseman Tyson Barrie usually quarterbacks an umbrella setup. I don’t know why, but Barrie can’t keep the puck in the zone, so Colorado gets out of their set up again.

When it comes to the penalty kill, the Avalanche have simply been atrocious at clearing the zone. According to Jared Bednar’s post-game presser, the players have to take the extra second to get their feet moving, protect the puck with their bodies, and use the forehand to get it down the ice.

The team practiced today, and I’m sure specialty teams are something they worked on.

Bruins Young and Undisciplined (Maybe)

I’ve always thought of the Boston Bruins as a big, bruising — and aging — team. Games against the Bruins seemed to drag on because they played such a shutdown style. However, they’re apparently heading in the new direction.

Former hockey player and Bruins expert Anthony Forgione observed the following:

"“They’ve added speed and youth to the lineup. Over the last few years they’ve been able to transform the roster from [Claude] Julien’s clunky checking style to the new-age fast pace game of 2017. Colorado is going to have to be aware of [Charlie] McAvoy, [Brandon] Carlo and [Torey] Krug (who should be in the lineup) often jumping into the offensive attack.”"

It sounds like it should be a run-and-gun style of game since Colorado has added speed and youth to the lineup as well.

Youth comes with a caveat, though. We’re seeing that with the Colorado Avalanche. Over at Causeway Crowd they see the same:

"“For the Bruins, I think the biggest challenge is going to be staying focused. We have an incredibly young team that is getting younger with each injury we suffer. We started the season off right with a win, but the team got sloppy at the end of the game and it almost slipped away. Then, after an exciting and emotional win, the team has an odd 3 day layoff before game #2 of the season. Keeping emotions in check, maintaining focus and discipline will be the key to any success the Bruins have. Especially give they have a 4 game week, the last 3 being on the road in the West.”"

It could be the players who can better control their emotions will lead their team to victory. If that’s the case, we Avalanche fans are in trouble because our players are ever mental.

Next: Officials Unfairly Target Erik Johnson

Hopefully the Colorado Avalanche can keep their tradition of winning on Columbus Day in Boston. I’d sure love to see a home opening win as well. At the bare minimum, though, the games should more exciting than previous outings.