The Colorado Avalanche might be the most underrated team in the NHL right now


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.

Colorado 3, Montreal 2

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.

Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.