Ladies and gentlemen, we are less than a month away from meaningful hockey once again filling our lives with joy. The Central is poised to be home to some truly great teams, and as with every year, it’s truly a toss-up as to who will wear the division crown come April.
With the clock winding down towards a new season, let's get you back to that special hockey feeling by taking a quick look at each team in the division and what you can expect from their next 82 games. Here are your 2018-19 Colorado Avalanche.
How Did Last Year Go?
In the 2016-17 season, the Colorado Avalanche only mustered 48 points. Last year, they were an overtime loss away from doubling that total. That incredible escape from the death spiral of putridness would have been enough. The Avs then had the stones to attempt a playoff run deep into the season, which culminated in the shellacking of division foe St. Louis to steal their spot in the playoffs. THEN this team has the stones to push the Presidents Trophy winners to 6 games and expose their defense for the frauds they were. THEN uh… they went home. But it’s okay! This season would have been the story of the league if it hadn’t been for that new kid stealing all their glory.
What The Hell Happened?
So much happened, I don’t even know where to begin. The “young talent” on the team collectively took a step towards becoming “talent”. After Matt Duchene exited the franchise, a new demeanor overtook the roster. They forgot they were supposed to be bad. Through a Herculean effort from the top line, smart rotation of the burgeoning talent on the blueline and strangely consistent net minding by committee, the Avs beat the weaker teams in the league and stole games against playoff hopefuls. All the sudden it was January and Colorado was still in the playoff hunt. Although they struggled against top talent down the stretch, Colorado beat the teams they needed to beat and did something only a handful of top teams can even pull off. Win the games you have to win. Simply getting to the playoffs still seems like a minor miracle, but there is the scaffolding of a contender beginning to appear in Denver, a couple seasons sooner than anyone thought it would.
If It Was So Great, What Went Wrong?
All of their goalies cosplayed as Mr. Glass. Four of their blueliners are legit AHL talents. Nathan MacKinnon can’t log 60 straight minutes. Fillip Forsberg exists. Andrew Hammond had to play more than one game.
Did Anything Else Good Happen?
Joe Sakic pulled off what could end up being the Trade of the Century. Enjoy that number 1 pick this year, Joe. Complete the con and sign Duchene back after he files for refugee status from Ottawa. Nathan MacKinnon went Super Saiyan this season and took Gabriel Landeskog with him on a journey to embarrass every defensive pairing the league. Johnathan Bernier won nine straight games starting on New Year’s eve, solidifying the Avs in the playoff hunt. The Hamburgler WON A PLAYOFF GAME. The Avalanche won their first road playoff game since April 4th, 2010.
Did They Get Any Worse?
It sure doesn’t feel like this team got worse. The previously mentioned netminders who were pivotal to the success of team both departed, but even last year, you had the feeling their success was fleeting. Nail Yakupov fled to Europe where the specter of being a failed 1st overall pick won’t haunt him. Blake Comeau took some much needed depth to division rival Dallas.
Are There New Faces This year?
Philip Grubauer is here to lead the team through a good regular season only to implode in the playoffs.
Ian Cole was overpaid to play 17 minutes of varied quality each night.
Matt Calvert is bringing a whopping 0.35 points per game to the Rocky Mountains.
What’s Going To Happen This Year?
Last year, it felt like a lot things went right for this franchise that were long shots. This year, however, even if their luck isn’t quite so good, the team should be able to bear the brunt of another hard season. Grubauer will be somewhere on the range of consistent to great in net this season. A healthy Valarmov will be waiting in the wings if he falters. As for the rest of the team, there is no reason to believe that the super friends on the top line won’t continue to set the world on fire. The rest of the forward corps will need to step up this season, even more than the oft-porous defense. If Colorado can get three lines consistently producing some points, then this team will turn heads. To make the playoffs again they’ll need at least their top six to perform well.
“Clubber, What’s Your Prediction For The Fight?”
45-32-6 4th in the Central On March 21st, 2019, Colorado will travel to Dallas. The Avalanche will come from behind to tie the game in the 3rd and eventually win 4-3 in overtime. This overtime victory will eventually lead them into the playoffs for the second year running… beating Dallas for the spot by a single point. How’s that for a prediction?
There you have it, folks. Next up, the Minnesota Wild.