The Colorado Avalanche got their season off to a great start with a 2-1 road trip with victories over the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers.
# 1 Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov posted consecutive victories to begin his 2017-18 season, including his 22nd career shutout against Boston. He was even better turning aside 37 of 39 shots against New York in the season opener. Varly’s brilliance gives all Colorado Avalanche fans reason to be optimistic for the season. If he can be this good, this team has a chance to compete for a playoff spot.
# 3 Chris Bigras
After last season’s injury plagued disappointment, which saw Chris Bigras spend the entire season in the AHL, Bigras played well in all three games on the road trip. He is clearly on the third pair, but his speed and ability to jump into the offense have been a vast improvement over players who filled the same role last year.
# 4 Tyson Barrie
Tyson Barrie had an impressive trip, with a two point opening night, including the GWG. He has recorded 12 shots on goal, and only1 giveaway, showing not just his trademark offensive ability, but also an improvement defensively. He is also 2nd on the team in TOI.
# 6 Erik Johnson
EJ has been an absolute workhorse over the first three games. He leads the team in TOI, and he has played in every situation, double shifting throughout the game. While the points have not yet been forthcoming, Johnson has been the best Avalanche d-man so far.
# 9 Matt Duchene
After all of the rumors all offseason, there was some cosmic justice as Matt Duchene scored the first Avalanche goal of the season. He has been the center on Colorado’s best line so far this year. While he may not last on the roster all year, I have really enjoyed seeing Duchy work as hard as he is. If he succeeds, it increases the chance of a trade, if that is what he really wants.
# 10 Sven Andrighetto
Sven Andrighetto had an underwhelming first 2 games, but played better in the victory over Boston. For the first time, Sven’s speed was noticeable, and he notched his first 2 points of the year.
# 12 Patrik Nemeth
For a player who was not in the Colorado Avalanche roster a week ago, Patrik Nemeth has fit into the team extremely well. Nemeth has been the most inconspicuous partner for Tyson Barrie that I can remember. I mean that as a compliment. Nemeth has 2 assists, 6 hits, and 4 blocked shots. He has been the defensive defenseman, with foot speed, this team has really needed.
# 13 Alexander Kerfoot
Alexander Kerfoot has been a welcome surprise to the Avalanche roster. An NCAA free agent signed in the offseason, Kerfoot not only made the opening night roster, he has found a home in the top 6. Kerfoot’s passing and vision on the ice have meshed incredibly well with Duchene and Yakupov.
# 14 Blake Comeau
Blake Comeau has settled into a fourth line role quite well. He has 5 hits and 7 shots on goal. Aside from a few brain cramps, which I have come to expect from him, Comeau has been responsible defensively, at least at even strength.
# 16 Nikita Zadorov
Big Z missed most of training camp and the season opener. In his two games, he has stepped right into a top 4 d-man role. He continues to use his size effectively, and has jumped into the play offensively more than I can remember. He will need to adjust to the way officials are calling penalties this season, as he has taken a minor in each of his two games.
# 17 Tyson Jost
Tyson Jost will need to improve to earn more ice time. He has been largely unnoticeable through 3 games, despite several different line partners. His skills seem to be best suited for a top 6 role, but there are no places for him to play there. This is a good problem for the Colorado Avalanche to have, but I will be curious to see if he sticks on the roster, if he doesn’t contribute more.
# 22 Colin Wilson
In his first 3 games with the Avs, Colin Wilson seems destined for a bottom 6 forward role. He had some offensive chances, especially in the loss to New Jersey, but his veteran presence on this team seems to be well suited for a depth role.
# 29 Nathan MacKinnon
It seems odd to say about a player who has 2 points in 3 games, but Nathan MacKinnon has been one of the biggest disappointments of the young season. He has not stood out, and not in a good way. His line has not been very threatening at even strength, and despite all the talent in the world, MacKinnon has not had a grade A chance himself yet this season.
# 34 Carl Soderberg
Carl Soderberg has been far closer to the good 2015-16 version of himself than the subpar 2016-17 version. He has recorded a point in each of his 2 games and has not only secured a fourth line role, but has earned power play time as well.
# 37 JT Compher
JT Compher has been solid defensively in his first 3 games, and showed a great wrist shot for his first goal of the year against Boston. His play has reminded me of Ryan O’Reilly’s rookie season, where the Colorado Avalanche are putting an emphasis on his defense, while is offense, which is in his arsenal, is going to be of secondary importance.
# 44 Mark Barberio
Mark Barberio went from the top pair in the opener to a healthy scratch the next two games. Mark wasn’t awful as he did have 4 blocked shots, but he did look in over his head, at times, on the top pair. I’m sure he will get another chance at some point this season, and he will doubtlessly play more effectively in a bottom pair role.
# 45 Jonathan Bernier
The Colorado Avalanche got an excellent performance from Jonathan Bernier in his team debut against the Devils. Bernier made several highlight reel saves, and despite taking the loss, did not give up an even strength goal. Both goalies have proven that they are capable of winning games for this team.
# 54 Anton Lindholm
After being sent down to San Antonio in the final preseason cut, Anton Lindholm returned after a 1 game absence to play well in a bottom pair role. The Avs coaches have not thrown too much at the young Swede, and he has responded well.
# 64 Nail Yakupov
The speed of Nail Yakupov has been evident through his first 3 games with Colorado. He was finally rewarded with his first 2 goals against Boston. He has looked dangerous every time he has been on the ice, and he has shown great chemistry with both Duchene and Kerfoot.
# 83 Matt Nieto
Matt Nieto’s season debut was a disaster. He took 3 minor penalties and also had a failed clear on the PK, which directly resulted in a Rangers goal. He has been a healthy scratch in the 2 games since.
# 92 Gabriel Landeskog
The Colorado Avalanche captain has been inconsistent so far. His line has not generated much offensively, though the line has been good at shutting opponents down in Colorado’s end. I am somewhat worried that Landeskog may have his best offensive numbers behind him. If Colorado is going to compete this year, they will need production out of their captain.
# 94 Andrei Mironov
Speaking of ineffective season openers and being overwhelmed, Andrei Mironov was not good against the Rangers. I would be surprised if Colorado did not send Mironov to San Antonio to get more accustomed to the North American game. If his first night is any indication, he needs the seasoning.
# 96 Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen has been the best player on the top line of the Colorado Avalanche so far this year. He has a goal and an assist and has looked dangerous when controlling the puck in the offensive zone. I also think Rants has looked more physical than he did during his rookie season.