To some extent, it makes perfect sense that the Colorado Avalanche have become one of the NHL’s streakiest teams in the last few years.
They hold the pulse-quickening blueprint of an up-an-down team as they boast an unusually aggressive scheme, unpredictable goaltending and a young but raw core of talent.
Still, the Avs have a way of sneaking up on you, so it might be a surprise that their 4-0 triumph against the Chicago Blackhawks was their fourth victory in a row and ninth “W” in 10 games. If the playoffs began right now, they’d grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
For those of you who haven’t been following those cardiac Colorado kids, I thought I’d examine that 10-game streak to figure out what elements are working so well.
Extra time excellence: Four of those 10 wins came in extra time, with three of those bonus points coming via shootout successes.
Great goaltending: At first, it seemed like Jean-Sebastien Giguere might steal the team’s starting job after he won four games in a row. Semyon Varlamov opened the door back up when Jiggy stumbled once, so now they’re both on the top of their games.
Limiting shots: That goaltending duo has enjoyed some better defense, especially in the last six games. The Avs have allowed less than 30 shots in five out of those six contests, which I’d say is a pretty good goal in the post-lockout era.
Excellent penalty killing: Colorado’s only allowed three power-play goals in that 10-game run and the PK has been perfect during their current four-game winning streak.
Consistent scoring: As you can see from the previous points, it’s been almost all about defense. That being said, they’ve scored at least two goals in all but one game – their only loss.
So can they keep this up?
I’d hate to rain on their parade, but it won’t be easy. The Avalanche will end this four-game road trip with what should be a tough visit to face the Blues in St. Louis. They’ll only have three home games in all of January. The toughest stretch comes from Jan. 12 to Jan. 22:
Jan. 12: at Nashville
Jan. 14: at Dallas
Jan. 16: at Phoenix
Jan. 18: vs. Florida
Jan 21. at Los Angeles
Jan. 22: at Anaheim
Still, the Avs are succeeding in surprising ways already. Few expected them to handle the Chicago by the tune of 4-0 tonight, for one thing.
OK, so you’ve endured my skeptical schedule analysis, but what do you think about the Avalanche’s chances? Should they aim a solid playoff seed, merely settle for any spot at all or will they come crashing back down to earth? Share your thoughts in the comments.