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Off the boards: Avalanche Appreciation

Highlighting each NHL Playoff-Bound Team: Part One
Off the boards: Avalanche Appreciation

One of the most prevalent NHL teams on my mind (besides my beloved New York Rangers) has been the Colorado Avalanche. They lost their first playoff game to the Winnipeg Jets, but let’s take a look at the team and its performance in the regular season.

The Avalanche have come to replace the Colorado Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils) and are dear to many Colorado fan’s hearts. Formerly the Quebec Nordiques, this team has been one of NHL’s most iconic NHL franchises since its founding in 1979. Since moving from Canada to Colorado in 1995, the Avalanche have made a name for themselves, winning Stanley Cups in its nearly 30-year stay.

Current GM and Hall of Famer Joe Sackic played all 19 seasons with the franchise; his number 19 is retired and hung up in the rafters of Ball Arena. Head coach Jared Bednar has kept his first NHL coaching job since the 2016-17 season and has proven successful time and time again, with the Avalanche making the playoffs since the 2017-18 season.

Looking at team statistics as a whole, the Colorado Avalanche have the most goals for at 304, scoring about 4 goals-per-game. The Avalanche have one of the best power plays in the league, accounting for 68 of their goals. They also have a top-ten penalty kill, with an almost 80% efficacy. Their team shooting percentage is in the top five, and they’ve had four shutouts.

The Avalanche obviously has two of the biggest names in the NHL right now: Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. MacKinnon has 140 points and has landed at the number two spot on the points leaderboard in a tight race with Nikita Kucherov, placing himself as a front-runner for the Hart trophy. Mackinnon has 51 goals and 89 assists, placing him in the top five in both categories, respectively.

Cale Makar is one of the best defensemen of this era. The 25-year-old has a slew of trophies to his name and is both an offensive and defensively solid defenceman. He can shoot the puck, but you can trust him to block a shot–or keep up with the backcheck. He is a leader among those stats combined.

I will admit Mikko Rantanen gets quite a lot of credit—and isn’t exactly “unknown”—but he isn’t as widely talked about as Makar and MacKinnon. He achieved his second 100-point season and is on pace to beat his previous total of 105 points. The 27-year-old Finnish winger is definitely a player to watch in the playoffs.

What would this article be if I left out Devon Towes? The 29-year-old left-shot defenseman is in the second half of the Cale Makar pairing. His ability to stay back and play a pretty much strictly defensive game allows Makar to expand his skills offensively. This format has been a trend lately in the NHL; your top defensive pairing consists of your defensive guy and your offensive guy.

The Colorado Avalanche also have one of the best goaltenders, Alexander Georgiev. Now, a lot of Ranger’s fans have interesting opinions of the guy–but I was on team “trade-him” once Shesterkin became number one. The Rangers fan base can have trouble accepting that a player wants out of the franchise or isn’t having a good time/maximizing their potential. Georgiev has had iconic moments, such as the time he punched Tony DeAngelo and finally got him off the team. Georgiev isn’t made to be a backup goalie; he had starter skills but was stuck on a team with a goaltending dynasty. I’m happy he’s found a number-one spot that allows him to show off his skills and lead the league in wins with 38.

Ball Arena is a whole experience. I love MSG, but when we visited my family in Colorado during spring break, going to an Av’s game was a must. Lower bowl tickets cost less than any of your options at MSG. One of the best parts was the iconic aluminum drink cups, which we still use. The arena is obviously more spread out than anyone in a city environment, but its layout is nice despite the fact you may be stuck parking far away.


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