Pop quiz for you puckheads out there (and answer this question without looking up the answer, cheaters): which team leads the NHL in goals scored at this point in the season?
Without looking, I would guess that most people would point to the usual suspects: maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings or San Jose Sharks?
Nope, the highest scoring team in the NHL is the burgundy-attired Colorado Avalanche. As of Sunday night, Matt Duchene & Co. scored 121 goals (four more than second place Philly) and lead the league in goals per game to boot (3.61, compared to Philly’s 3.41).
While they are far from the stingiest team in the NHL with 105 goals allowed (Pittsburgh and Florida hold the league’s best mark of 78), a +16 goals differential is still impressive. Especially when you consider the fact that the Avs faced plenty of adversity to start the season, from a couple injuries for Craig Anderson to Chris Stewart breaking his hand and now Kyle Quincey, who is preparing to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
So what drives this explosive Avs offense? Variety and speed, with five players who scored at least 10 goals, three players with 30 points and 13 with 10 or more.
Sure, there is certainly a hierarchy to their offense. Duchene has 34 points, Paul Stastny provided 32, Milan Hejduk is having an unexpected resurgence with 31 and John Michael-Lilies is quietly putting up an outstanding season for a defenseman, with 28 points already. Yet the team seems to have the brand of offensive versatility that seems reminiscent of the Chris Drury/Daniel Briere Buffalo Sabres.
The Avalanche extended their winning streak to six games tonight by edging the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs earned two leads (1-0 via Michael Cammalleri, 2-1 thanks to Alexander Picard), but Colorado wore them down with two goals in the third period. Ryan Wilson, Kevin Porter and T.J. Galiardi scored the Avs’ goals.
Craig Anderson made 27 out of 29 saves and earned a rare assist to best Carey Price, who allowed three goals on 28 shots.