The Colorado Avalanche start their first roadie, a two-gamer, tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ll continue in Buffalo against the Sabres.
The Colorado Avalanche have embarked on their first road trip of the season. They’ll play two games — one in Columbus and one in Buffalo.
Firsts are always important. That’s one of the reasons you want to see opening night go well. Likewise, you want to set the stage for success. So on this, the Avalanche’s first road trip, they’ll want to start off as strong as they did at home.
And collect points. It’s never too early to start worrying about points, not when you play in the tough Central Division where the “bottom feeders” are currently the St. Louis Blues — who challenged Colorado for the final wild card spot just a scant few months ago.
So, let’s look at some keys to the team’s first road trip.
Road Game 1 vs. Columbus
Game time: October 9, 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV, FS-O (Jackets feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
The Colorado Avalanche have a 38-14-4-1 (ties) record against the BJs all time. Last season the teams split the series, each winning at home. However, the game in Columbus had to go to overtime.
Columbus is 1-1 right now, coming off a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Road Game 2 vs. Buffalo
Game time: October 11, 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV, MSG-B (Sabres feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
The Colorado Avalanche have a 17-10-2-2 (ties) record against the Sabres all time. Last season the teams split the series, each winning on the road.
Buffalo is 2-1 right now, coming off a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Playing with Goalies
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So far this season, we’ve only seen Semyon Varlamov in net. That’s not too outrageous since the Colorado Avalanche have only played two games. However, at the time of writing, Philipp Grubauer was the announced goalie for the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In his two games, Varlamov’s recorded a very impressive 1.5 goals against average and equally impressive .948 save percentage. He looked rusty in the preseason, and took a minute to get his bearings in the first game. However, aside from that lapse that saw him get tackled by Mark Barberio, he’s been solid since then.
Varly loves competition, and he knows he has it in Grubauer. The latter is going to have to be strong in his game to woo a lot of starts away.
Road trips are commonly where teams develop chemistry. They travel together, have team dinners, and get the chance to hang out together as long as Fortnite doesn’t get in the way. (Apparently the AvalancheColorado doesn’t mind players staying up playing Fortnite because it keeps them out of the bars, but there’s still several who aren’t old enough to get into bars anyway…)
Besides team chemistry, which the Avalanche are good with anyway, the players can continue to build their on-ice chemistry. So far, the top line still looks awesome, though captain Gabriel Landeskog might miss some time with a “lower body injury.” That said, the team hopes he might miss no time at all.
The second line looks really good together, and the first defensive pairing of little swallow Sam Girard whirling around the condor Erik Johnson seems to have gelled already. This trip also gives the newbies a chance to get to know their teammates better.
Establishing a Road Identity
Possibly the most important key to the Colorado Avalanche this season is developing a road identity. They struggled with this at times last season, and it cost them a little later in the season.
The Avalanche have an awesome home identity. They’re fast and well-conditioned. So, when the opponent players tire themselves out after chasing after the Avs at altitude, the Colorado players still have juice in the tank — and air in their lungs.
That game isn’t going to fly on the road where playing fields will be more level — literally. Certainly, the Avalanche’s game will still be based on speed. However, they’re going to have to develop who they are as a road team to be better-prepared to collect points later in the season.
After this two-game road trip, the Colorado Avalanche head home for a single game against the Calgary Flames before heading out on a four-game roadie. That’s one good reason it’s important to start establishing their road identity already.