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.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.