The Colorado Avalanche went into their bye-week on a hot streak. Will the time off derail their momentum or give them needed recuperation time?
The Colorado Avalanche are about midway through their bye-week, a little NHL-mandated break that for some reason couldn’t be for the Olympic Games. Ostensibly, the bye-week gives players a chance to rest, a vacation time.
For the Avalanche, though, the bye-week seems to come at an inopportune time. The Avalanche in general and certain players specifically are hot. Taking a vacation right now could derail their momentum.
The Avs just finished a stellar home stand. It started out rough, with a loss to the NHL-worst Arizona Coyotes. However, the Avs then went on to win five straight against some good teams, including the New York Islanders and the Central Division rival Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild.
Avalanche players are showing some swagger, and you would like to see that momentum carried forward, not put on ice while the players frolic near the beach (presumably — I have no idea where they went, but I’m sure at least some of them flew to beachy climates). Coach Jared Bednar has sent them off with the instruction to keep in shape — hopefully they follow what he says.
The next game is also against a Central Division rival, the Dallas Stars. Colorado needs to make as much headway against such foes in the toughest division in the NHL. They currently have a tenuous hold on the last wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Some players are on really good streaks, too. Naturally, the first player who comes to anyone’s mind is center Nathan MacKinnon. He leads the Avalanche with 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists), and is second only to Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for scoring in the entire NHL.
MacKinnon has an impressive 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in his last five games. According to NHL.com, MacKinnon was the only Central Division player with unanimous votes for the All Star team. And he’s starting to get Hart Trophy buzz. We don’t want our blossoming superstar to cool down.
Winger Mikko Rantanen is second only to MacKinnon on the team for points with 41 (15 goals, 26 assists.) He has eight points in the last three games — a three-game, multi-point scoring streak — and has been pert near on a point per game pace since the beginning of December. He’s tied for an NHL-high eight points in three games, which earned him NHLPA Player of the Week.
He also jammed out to Bon Jovi because that’s what you do when you’re flying high:
Another player we don’t want to see cool down.
The Colorado Avalanche also have some secondary scorers who don’t need to get cold. They’re streaky, but they’re starting to pot some in. Carl Soderberg had two goals in the last game, and rookie Alexander “Please Leave My Head Attached, Doobs” Kerfoot assisted on both. Patrik “I Score Goals Now” Nemeth also scored a goal against Minnesota as well as against the Islanders. That’s two of his three goals coming in the last four games.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier is also playing hot. He recorded a .957 save percentage in his three games this week, a 3-0 record in those games. Indeed, he shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets. That earned him Second Star of the Week for the NHL.
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We could say we don’t want Bernier cooling down either — and we don’t — but the fact that he had three starts brings us to the other side of the equation. Starter Semyon Varlomov has been out since New Year’s Eve with a lower body injury that we’re all hoping isn’t his groin. J.T. Compher and Sven Andrighetto are also day-to-day with lower body injuries. The bye-week gives those players a chance to heal without missing any more games than they already have.
Tyson Barrie will still be on injured reserve at the end of the bye-week, but that’s still fewer games for him to miss.
The five days gives other players who haven’t missed games a chance to recover from the bumps and bruises typical of hockey. It also gives them a chance to decompress after an every-other-day pace of hockey for the last five weeks.
The plus side is that, when the Colorado Avalanche face the Dallas Stars on Saturday, January 13, the two teams will be on equal footing. Dallas is also on their bye-week. The Avalanche will hold a practice on Friday before flying to Dallas.
We can only hope that the Colorado Avalanche get the rest and recuperation they need without taking the wind out of their sails during the bye-week. They’ve been playing some exciting hockey, and we all want it to continue.