Colorado Avalanche built championship habits in season-best win streak

The Colorado Avalanche may have seen their 9 game winning-streak snapped against the Habs on Tuesday - but the team looks as poised as ever for another deep playoff run.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Colorado Avalanche
Pittsburgh Penguins v Colorado Avalanche / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Colorado Avalanche just had their season-high nine-game winning-streak snapped in rather lackluster fashion. A 2-1 home loss to Montreal is never going to feel good. However, Avs faithful should take heart in knowing that Colorado's playoff fate is in their own hands. With just 10 games left in the regular season, a world of opportunity is open for the burgundy and blue. If recent power rankings and betting odds mean anything, Colorado is gaining momentum at the right time. The Avs currently sit at +750 or better odds to lift the cup with most up-to-date trackers. Only the Florida Panthers have more favorable odds.

Watching this most recent winning streak unfold, I saw a lot of positive trends in Colorado's play. Sure, they won games, but the way they won showcased why they can be such a difficult opponent: The Avalanche handily buried teams like Chicago, Detroit, Calgary and Columbus. They gritted tough wins out of clubs desperate to stay in contention like Minnesota, St. Louis and to an extent Pittsburgh. Most notably, the Avs beat two top contenders in the West, Vancouver and Edmonton in OT, on the road.

The portion of the streak that most excited me had to be that 4 game tour through Canada and into St. Louis. Being completely honest, the road woes of the Avalanche since the return from the All-Star break have been a glaring concern. While I'm not willing to say the demons of the road have been fully exercised, collective confidence seems to have stabilized. The Avalanche made the right moves at the deadline and they are paying immediate dividends.

In my own takeaways from the deadline, I highlighted the improved PK. That was analysis largely based on believed fit; but I am happy and more than a little gratified to point out that I seem to have been proven correct during the extended sample size of the win streak. In fact, since the new Avalanche players have been inserted into the lineup (from the Wild game March 8th, through Tuesday) the Avs PK is a perfect 19-for-19.

Every new addition, from Sean Walker and Casey Mittelstadt, to Yakov Trenin and Brandon Duhaime have figured into the special teams unit. The loss against Montreal might well have been turned around if not for costly penalties by Walker in the third. Even so, the PK didn't break in six tough minutes late.

While the overall winning did not continue, Nathan MacKinnon did keep his chase for Gretzky alive, scoring Colorado's lone tally. Nate now has points in 35-straight home games to open the season. He can only set the record if he keeps up the streak through the entire regular season, but at this point, why doubt #29? He is now the Avalanche franchise record holder for most points in a single season with 123. Nate is also 10 behind his line-mate Mikko's Avalanche goals record (55), and only 8 back of Peter Forsberg's team assists record (86). With 10 games left, all of those numbers are actually possible!

Longtime fans may remember that Forsberg set that lofty helper record in 1995-96. The first year the team existed officially after moving from Quebec. It is a year that Avs fans have etched in our memories for obvious reasons. Colorado won the cup after all. So of course when I was digging into the deeper records for this article I had to ask myself, how does this recent nine-game stretch compare to Avalanche win streaks all-time?

It isn't the longest — that distinction actually goes to a 12-game streak in the 1998-99 campaign. That team did not win it all, sadly. Yet there is a tantalizing statistical nugget that caught my eye, and it may be a sign of things to come.

In each of Colorado's Stanley Cup winning seasons (1996, 2001, and 2022), they managed at least one streak of eight wins or more in a row. The 2022 team amazingly, had streaks of both 9 and 10 games. This kind of number crunching might be meaningless if you don't live for hockey like the staff and readers of MHS - but to diehards, these stats give reason to believe it may be our year, again.

The Avalanche have one last 10 game chunk of the schedule to fine-tune everything before hitting ice in the postseason. Arguably it is the hardest remaining slate of any team in the league. On Thursday, the Avalanche face the East-leading New York. This weekend they go against the only team hotter than the Avs right now, the Nashville Predators. Beyond that there are still somehow two MacKinnon vs McDavid showdowns with Edmonton.

Four divisional matchups remain as well. The Avalanche face the Wild twice, and have one a piece with Dallas and Winnipeg, which will fittingly decide the Central. Quite frankly, the only 'easy one' left is a rematch with CBJ, and a loss to the Habs reminds you never to take anyone for granted. Oh, and that other game I haven't mentioned yet is against the defending champs VGK.

All that said, the Avalanche can lock up a playoff berth tonight by beating the Rangers (and a St Louis loss). Seeding could be chaos, but Colorado is in control of their own destiny and playing solid. We saw a sneak peak of some playoff atmosphere recently. The Avalanche know what time of year it is too. I'm expecting championship effort from here on out.