The Colorado Avalanche have the best record in the NHL when it comes to winning in front of the home crowd with an 18-5-0 record after Alexandar Georgiev recorded his second shutout of the season against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
The record at home is best by four total games as both the Golden Knights and the Vancouver Canucks boast 14 wins on home ice. Coming into the New Year the Avs needed to find their identity as a team and have done well in front of their fans. Now the real test comes as the Avalanche prepare for a five-game road trip to the Northeast.
The Colorado Avalanche will have to navigate playing their next five games on the road over the next nine days, including a back-to-back contest on Monday and Tuesday night next week against the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. While the Avs still have a winning record on the road, it is not as successful as their home record at only 9-7-3. For the Avs to thrive on the road, they need to bottle up their home magic and bring it with them.
The Colorado Avalanche are getting the job done at home
It helps to have Georgiev in net, as he currently leads all NHL goaltenders in total wins, and has faced and saved the second most shots across the NHL. His 23 wins are a testament to what he can do for this organization, and while many point the finger of blame at Georgiev for some of the more egregious losses, it isn't all on his shoulders.
Yes, he does share some of the blame, but this is a team sport when all is said and done. It isn't one person who gains all the glory of lifting Lord Stanley's Cup. Every player gets their turn and has their name etched in hockey immortality alongside some of the greatest to ever play the game.
Other players among the Avalanche roster have to step up as well, and a few have. Nathan MacKinnon tied former captain and current VP of Hockey Ops for the Avs, Joe Sakic in consecutive home games with a point scored at 23.
While streaks are special, it isn't likely that MacKinnon is all that concerned with it as he willing his team to victory by pushing the pace in the game and finding ways to get the puck into the net at a solid pace. He is currently co-favorite along with Connor McDavid for the NHL MVP award of the Hart Trophy. One of the few trophies that have eluded him this year. Another fan favorite, Valeri Nichuskin, has picked up his scoring prowess as he continued to show in scoring two goals on the Powerplay against the Golden Knights on Wednesday night.
With Nichuskin continuing to provide scoring depth, and it being announced that Artturi Lehkonen would be joining the Avalanche on their upcoming road trip, the Avs are getting some healthy players back at the right time.
Sam Girard recently returned from getting some help through the NHL's Player Assistance Program and has slotted back into his regular role and eating a ton of ice time (TOI) as he had 22 minutes of ice time last night. Sam Malinski has earned additional ice time for the Avalanche as an undrafted player out of Cornell last season and is filling in while his former linemate Bowen Byram recovers from a lower-body injury.
So with a solid lineup once again in play, Colorado has been focusing on building confidence across the roster. The best way to build that confidence is with defense and what each player can do without the puck. Blocking shots, hustling to forecheck, backchecking, getting sticks into lanes, etc.
The Avs are continuing to do that, and have limited shots on goal by their opponents very well. You would have to go back to the game against Ottawa (45 SOG) on December 21st as the last time the Avs gave up more than 35 shots on goal. Over their last nine games, the Avs have an average of 25.1 SA/GP (Shots Allowed/Game Played),
If the Avs can carry this momentum into their upcoming road trip and keep their confidence intact, it would provide a smoother ride on the back end of what has been a bumpy season. If Avalanche brass can see that the philosophy of Coach Bednar and his staff are starting to catch on with the new additions this season, then they can focus on potentially finding a way to improve this roster as they prepare for the eventual playoffs.
Whether that be another 2nd line center, a 1B goalie to Georgiev's 1A, or additional depth. What the Avs got last night in that shutout was momentum, and it is something they need to hold on to as they head to Canada this weekend.