Colorado Avalanche: 3 Storylines in the Garden State

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 07: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 7, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 07: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 7, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche play the second game of their East Coast road trip against the currently unbeaten New Jersey Devils. They hope to play spoiler in that record.

The Colorado Avalanche continue their road trip by heading a little south of Manhattan and Madison Square Garden. This evening they face off against the New Jersey Devils in the Prudential Center.

It’s always fun when these two teams meet because the Devils used to be the Colorado team, the Rockies. The team moved in 1982, leaving Colorado without an NHL team until 1995. It’s also especially fun because the two teams faced off for the Stanley Cup in 2001.

You should know, of course, that the Colorado Avalanche won.

The Colorado Avalanche have faced the New Jersey Devils a total of 41 times in the regular season. Their record is favorable — 20-17-1-3 (ties). Unfortunately, last season New Jersey took both games.

The Devils are coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Dallas Stars. The Avalanche are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: October 18, 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV, MSG+ (Devils feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)

Last Undefeated Team

Well, isn’t it special? The New Jersey Devils are 4-0-0. They’re the last undefeated team in the NHL.

No, it’s not special. It’s not particularly special at all. The Colorado Avalanche have always been good at playing spoiler. Even in their darkest seasons, they’re adept at ending a scoring streak or ruining a record.

You know what record is not ruined? Nathan MacKinnon has scored a goal in each of his first six games this season, and Mikko Rantanen has scored a point in each of those games. Both have set franchise records.

No matter what happens this evening, they’re the record-holders for that streak.

Who’s the MVP?

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Speaking of Nathan MacKinnon, here in Avs Nation we all know he was robbed of the Hart Trophy last season. He exceeded Taylor Hall in goals and points. He also led the team into one of the biggest turnarounds in NHL history.

And yet because Rantanen was so good (84 points), and because many writers who voted for the Hart Trophy reside on the East Coast and missed watching many games played west of the Mississippi, Hall won the Hart over MacKinnon.

Taylor Hall has played in all four wins for the New Jersey Devils. He has four points. All of them are assists. The New Jersey Devils are unbeaten despite the fact their supposed MVP has yet to find the back of the net.

Nathan MacKinnon has seven goals. Seven. Goals. See above about setting franchise records. And, yes, Rantanen is still his faithful sidekick and the team leader in points with nine. (MacK has eight.)

And, anyway, the two teams have the same amount of points.

So, who’s the MVP? Can there be any doubt that it’s Nathan MacKinnon?

Support your Goalie

Ok, let’s get a little more serious — and more Avs-centric — for a moment. The Colorado Avalanche are back to their wild ways. They’re letting their goalie get shellacked with shots.

In five games, Semyon Varlamov has faced 173 shots. That’s an average of 34.6 shots per game, which is ridiculous. In his lone regular season start, Philipp Grubauer faced 34 shots — so pretty much the average.

The Avs started out better than that. In the first couple games of the season they were playing tighter defense. They allowed fewer shots to get through to begin with. And when the goalie let rebounds out, Avs players were there to clean up the garbage and get the puck out of the zone.

Grubauer is tapped to be in net tonight. It’s only his second start with the team. It would be nice if the skaters gave him some support instead of letting him get shellacked.

3 Areas of Focus for the Roadie. dark. Next

The Colorado Avalanche will play the Devils only one more time, on St. Patrick’s Day in Pepsi Center. After this evening, they’ll head to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes.