Well well well! For a team that finished dead last in the Western Conference only a year ago, the Colorado Avalanche are turning heads. With the 2-0 shutout over the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Avs are now 4-0-0 to start the season.
Who da thunk, huh? With wins over Anaheim, Nashville at home, people thought “Yeah, okay, let’s see what they’ve got on the road.” The Avs then proceeded to continue their dominant play in a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. “Well.. they play the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins next. They’ll get a reality check against a really good team.” Well random bystander inserting quotes into my story.. not so fast. The Avs are starting to make the city of Denver believe.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen some complete hockey played by our burgundy and blue, but as you’ve all heard, a new era is starting to begin for Avalanche hockey. Thanks to goals from Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene, along with a 39-save shut out from Jean-Sebastian Giguere, the Avs are 4-0-0. With their win over Toronto back on Tuesday, the Avs made team history with the best start to a season. At 4-0-0 with the win over Boston, they’ll continue to make that team history as long as they keep on truckin’ the way that they have so far.
Going against a tough team in the Boston Bruins (my pick to win the Eastern Conference), the Avs were going to get a good chance to get their benchmark test early on in the season. Consider that test passed with flying colors. For the fourth game in a row to begin the season, the Avs continued their dominance by not allowing the opposition to score a goal in the first twenty minutes. The dominance didn’t just stop there.
Throughout the entire game, we’ve seen more of what we saw through the first three contests. Firstly, stellar defense. The one thing thing that wasn’t there consistently last year and needed some serious improving. From playing solid hockey on the Penalty Kill in which the Avs are a perfect 10-for-10 on the season, to making the smart passes all over the ice rink that just weren’t made last season. The blue-liners are making things easy for the Avs. Solid defense, check.
Then there’s the goaltending. What a good problem to have, huh? Semyon Varlamov had already posted three straight one-goal efforts in the Avs’ first three games, and Patrick Roy wanted to give “Giggy” his chance in net. No momentum lost there. Giguere came in and completely stone-walled the Bruins for a good sixty minutes, square to the shooters all night long and letting nothing past him as he posted his 37th career shutout. Solid goaltending, check.
And then there’s the goal scoring. You’re not expected to score 4-5-6 goals every game, but a real contender is expected to be able to win those 2-1 and 1-0 games. Outside of the empty netter tonight that gave the Avs the 2-0 victory, those are the exact kind of games that the Avs won in these last two contests on the road against Toronto and Boston. Having said that, the Avs have quality goal scorers and some serious talent up front that’s showing up early this season. Solid offense, check.
The Bruins even tried to rattle the Avs. In the second period, Bruins tough guy Milan Lucic tried to get into it with Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. Gabe’s holding back from getting into it with Lucic, which saved the crowd from getting into the game, was a smart move says Head Coach Patrick Roy. “First of all, we don’t have anything to prove fighting with him,” Roy said. “I don’t believe fighting is that important in our game. And at the same time, there’s no need for Gabe to go in the box for 10 minutes or 15 minutes. We need him on the ice. He’s one of our best players and I thought that was smart from him, actually.” And that was momentum that the Bruins never got. In fact, Lucic got a ten-minute misconduct penalty that carried over into the third period and the Bruins missed him dearly.
When the Avs are forcing the opposing team to attempt starting all-team brawls, you know the boys in burgundy and blue are doing something right. And at 4-0-0, you better believe it. Don’t think for a second that after four games you can make the prediction that things are different for this Avs team. HOWEVER. With the way they’ve played under Patrick Roy so far in 2013-14, don’t try to make comparisons from last years team to this years team. The quality of hockey we’re seeing from the Avalanche early on this year is incredibly promising. The Avs weren’t able to play this type of hockey all of last season.
Bottom line, the Avs are 4-0-0 on the season. “Every point you have right now, that’s great. That’s less that we have to chase teams,” said Avs Head Coach Patrick Roy. And the Avs weren’t one of the teams that people thought were going to start the season on such a good note. “It’s unexpected from a lot of people, but for us, we have to keep going one day at a time.”
Such a good start as the Avs have gotten off to is hard to do for even for the most dominant teams in the NHL. The new era in Denver continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET when the Avs travel to Washington to face the Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.