I wanted to break down what the Colorado Avalanche so far this season. The Avalanche have had a rough start that many people did not expect, although some expected a slower start, not many expected this slow of a start.
Breaking down the subtractions and additions to the roster as of 11/16/2014:
Paul Stastny; signed a 4 year deal with the St. Louis Blues. Stastny started the season with a boom scoring 1 goal and 3 assists in his first two career games in St. Louis. In his fourth game of the season, Paul (Stastny) would sustain an injury on his first shift, causing him to miss eight games. Since then Stastny has played five games scoring one point, game winner (1g, 0a) and going -4.
PA Parenteau; traded for Daniel Briere to Montreal. PA (Parenteau) found himself struggling in Colorado alongside Coach Patrick Roy and found himself on the trade market. (PA) Parenteau started the first five games of the season very strong scoring 2 goals and 3 assists. After struggling for the next eight games, in the last five he has produced 3 goals and 1 assists. 9 points and a -/+ 0.
Andre Benoit; signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabers. Although the Sabers have had a rough and expect 4-13-2 start, Benoit has not found the touch he had with Colorado last season. In 14 games player with Buffalo, Benoit, has 0g 0a and is a -12. After being sat out five games, Andre (Benoit) was played again due to an injury to Alternate Captain Josh Gorges. After averaging 20+ minutes a game, Benoit only saw a season low 13:48 against the Wild and did not play last night in Toronto.
Matt Hunwick; signed as a free agent with New York Rangers. In 15 games with the Rangers, Hunwick has one highlight real saving a goal trickling towards the goal line. Other than than, Hunwick has 6 points and 0 goals. He is a +2 and really seems to fit will in New York. Matt (Hunwick) averages around 19 minutes a game and his season high was 27:58 against the Winnipeg Jets.
Jarome Iginla; signed a 3 year deal as a free agent with Colorado. The twelve time 30+ goal scorer was the pick up to replace Paul Stastny. Like the entire team Jarome (Iginla) has had a slow start, his only two goals came in the same game against the Vancouver Canucks and has 0 goals in the last 11 contests. Jarome Iginla has 2g 8a and is a -3, after some recent line changes by Coach Patrick Roy, Iginla has 1 assist and hopes chemistry begins with his new line.
Daniel Briere; acquired in a trade for PA Parenteau from Montreal. Briere found himself benched twice this season after producing only 2 goals (both game winners) and an assist. We have to remember the Briere was not really brought in to produce during the regular season but the playoffs. Danny Briere is known more for his 116 playoff points than anything else. Like Jarome Iginla, Briere’s last goal was against the Canucks in the slaughter laid on by the Avalanche.
Brad Stuart; acquired for two draft picks from San Jose. Stuart has to be the most disappointing pick up so far this season for Colorado. Although no one expected him to be anything great, Avs fans did expect him to at least produce somewhat on the power play. Stuart has missed five staright with an injury but has no points and is a -6.
Zach Redmond; signed as a free agent from Winnipeg Jets. Redmond is slowly turning into the Nick Holden from last season. In 8 games Redmond has 4 points, he is a -2, yet when Redmond is in the Avalanche line up there seems to be a higher pace to the game and the Avs seem to have more confidence. Colorado is 4-2-2 with Redmond in the lineup so far this season.
To start the season, the Avalanche find themselves on the far outside looking in. With their first winning streak of the season Colorado faces the next four days as a challenge. They will not play until November 20th against the Washington Capitals. The last two times the Avalanche have had more than one day off they have lost, 3-0 to the Minnesota Wild and 6-0 against the New York Islanders. This is a make it or break it time for the Avalanche to overcome adversity and keep up the confidence they have built over the last few games.
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov has faced 462 shots this season which is 3rd highest in the NHL. He is sporting a 2.95 GAA down from a 3.05 GAA earlier this month and a .918 save percentage. Varlamov’s confidence and consistency is key to the Avalanche pulling to .500 and moving up in the standings. Back-up goalie Reto Berra has been surprisingly good to start the season, it seems the work with Varly, Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire is paying off. Berra is 2-1-1 and holds a 2.70 GAA and a .914 save percentage, which are all career highs in the first four games of the season (2 career seasons.)
Many people are beginning to write the Colorado Avalanche off this season, saying they cannot pull themselves from this funk. That the first 20 games of the season tell you how they will play all year. Yet I find that to be false and see the building of confidence in this Colorado team. The new line of O’Reilly, Duchene and Alex Tanguay seems to be working after two games, if the line of Iginla, Landeskog and Mitchell continues their route they will be producing.
The first factor missing right now is sophomore Nathan MacKinnon, who seems to have back to back years of starting off slow. MacKinnon is 6 games away from the 25 game mark where he began his rookie breakout last season. Look for MacKinnon to catch on fire before December starts.
The second factor is Captain Gabe Landeskog. Landeskog’s discipline this season has been lacking, only Erik Johnson and Cody McLeod have more penalties than Gabe who sports 22 minutes. Along with his discipline, his defensive play has been miserable while playing even strength as he is a -11, only Nick Holdens -15 is worse. As a Captain this conduct for Landeskog needs to be altered, as a leader the team sees what he is doing and follows suit. While our penalty killing has been fair, ranking top 5, it is not the way this team needs to play as they give up enough shots without the penalty kill.
If those two players can turn it up, Colorado can find themselves fighting for a top 8 playoff spot and possibly more. If other teams like St. Louis slow down as they did at the end of last season. It will not be an easy process for Colorado, yet after their last two games, they are headed down the right path.