With only three games under their belt, the Colorado Avalanche have hopefully convinced themselves that they are the team they have been playing like: fast, cunning, physical and dominant.
The Avalanche opened up their 48 game schedule on the road last Saturday against the Minnesota Wild and fell 2-4 after John Mitchell and Cody McLeod goals put the Avs back in it. Unfortunately, a pair of Danny Heatly scores and one apiece from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikael Granlund were enough to stop Colorado’s come back opportunity. The Avs plodded through the first period before trying to not be the 2011-12 version of themselves. More bad news was still to come as the Avs lost key forward, Steve Downie for the season after he tore his ACL.
Somehow the Avs managed to bring that momentum back home for two games as they knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion LA Kings 3-1. Jonathan Quick did his best to defend the Kings net, but he was caught off guard and in the wrong places by Gabriel Landeskog, P.A. Parenteau and David Jones. Avs golatender Semyon Varlamov has been as-advertised between the pipes, only allowing five goals and recording a shutout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
What has been most impressive over the last two and two-thirds games has been the Avs playing like a team with top tier talent and the supporting cast to make it work. The Avs have been physical on both sides of the ice, not wasting an opportunity to let their opponents know they are right there. The fights have been frequent and the players have been rough around the edges, inciting many pushing and shoving matches. The puck handling has been the right amount of finesse and power to be effective at fooling backpedaling defenses. The skating has been more dynamic than their opponents, to the degree that the top lines, notably Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Parenteau’s have been electric while on the attack and on defense.
Of note, every player that matters on the Avs has managed a point or more over the last three games.
With a 2-1-0 record, the Avs are now tied with Minnesota at the top of their division with four points. They can stay right there if they forget who they were last season and go forward playing like they have over the last two games. The Avs will be dangerous with their young core, dynamic play and gritty demeanor if they can maintain all three while staying disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Avs may just find themselves in contention for the playoffs at this rate. Possibly a favorite.