The Colorado Avalanche improved to 4-0 entering the second week of the NHL season and never gave an exhausted Chicago Blackhawks team a chance in the home opener at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. Alexandar Georgiev got the start and Logan O’Connor continues to show why he was kept in Denver over other fan favorites like J.T. Compher. While salary cap considerations were the most likely factor, being a real pest to opposing teams on the ice is a big contributing factor as well.
O’Connor did the unlikely again in back-to-back games with his 5th career short-handed goal coming at 11:46 of the first period Thursday night and this one was a clear breakaway with fellow teammate Andrew Cogliano being the closest trailing player on the play. The Colorado Avalanche have shown depth and grit across their penalty-killing units through the first four games, killing off all 17 opportunities they’ve given their opponents on the power play and have scored two shorthanded goals as a nice plump cherry on top.
Just how do the Avs maintain this dominance and consistency when down a man on the ice? Depth of experienced players, discipline in positional coverage on the ice, accountability to each other, leadership and expectation by teammates, and quality coaching in every aspect of the game. While many naysayers doubt the Avalanche for their overhaul on the 3rd line and question the overall build those depth players play a pivotal role in this organization, the Avalanche organization sees a team that can be lethal during any moment of the game.
Josh Manson, Andrew Cogliano, and Logan O’Connor were directly responsible for the play in the defensive zone that led to the game-winning goal; and it came from a typical disadvantaged position. Devon Toews, Bowen Byram, Miles Wood, and Ross Colton are a few others who have played a well-disciplined zone scheme that no one has had success in scoring on as of yet. The Avs have kept opponents on the outside walls of the offensive zone and worked diligently to take away across-ice passes and minimize speed as a weapon that is used against them.
The tradeoff is what we’ve seen the last two nights from the Avalanche and specifically, Logan O’Connor. This team can F-L-Y. While there may be other teams that haven’t given up a power play goal this early in the season like the Avs, they are still #1 on the list with their ability to be deadly even with one less on the ice. Talk about upping the proficiency to 110 percent. The Colorado Avalanche will need to carry that efficiency forward as they prepare to face some of their Eastern Conference foes in the next four games, with three of them in the Eastern time zone.