Nino Niederreiter, Semyon Varlamov

Poll: Are the Avs due for a downfall?


According to proponents of the so-called “advance statistics” that we continue to hear so much about this summer, the real Colorado Avalanche were exposed in the playoffs, when they lost in seven games to Minnesota.

All season long, according to the analytics folks, the numbers said the Avs were leaning too heavily on the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov, as well as a high shooting percentage that couldn’t possibly be sustained.

And after winning the first two games against the Wild, things did, in fact, seem to catch up to the surprise winners of the Central Division. In Games 3 and 4, the Avs scored just once on a measly 34 shots combined. In Games 6 and 7, Varlamov allowed eight goals on 56 shots combined, including the series clincher, in overtime, by Nino Niederreiter.

Not too long after losing to Minnesota, Colorado lost center Paul Stastny, one of their best possession players, to free agency. Which was a particularly tough pill to swallow, given they got nothing in return for the 28-year-old, and didn’t even have a postseason victory to show for rolling the dice and keeping him, sans long-term contract, for the playoffs.

There is, of course, an opposing side to the argument that the Avs are due for a downfall. (Or, in stats speak, for a regression.)

For starters, defenseman Tyson Barrie was taken out of the series by Matt Cooke in Game 3.  Wouldn’t a lot of teams struggle if they lost such a key player? Just a coincidence they went 2-0 with Barrie in the lineup and 1-4 in games he didn’t finish or didn’t play?

Also, the Avs’ core is still very young, with the potential to improve under the coaching of Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy. Yes, they lost Stastny. But they’ve still got Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly in the top six. All with valuable postseason experience now.

On top of that, they added veterans Jarome Iginla, Daniel Briere, and Brad Stuart to the mix this summer.

OK, time to vote:

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning

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In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.

Hands of gold: Connor McDavid scores his first NHL goal


Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.

The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.

To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).

Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:

Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):

McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: