10 games into the season, there is still much uncertainty. But things are looking pretty promising for the upstart Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado is 10 games into the season and while there is much uncertainty still in the new league, things are looking pretty promising for group of players and staff that are learning on the fly as the league evolves.
Overall, the main club is just a point out of first place in the Conference sporting a consistent 5-2-3 record. That is the type of pace you want out of the gate to give your team a real shot at the playoffs. And while there is a long way to go, the Avs can only take it one game at a time.
Highlights of the season:
-- 2-1 Win in home opener
-- 7-1 Drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes
-- 3-1 Win over the Blackhawks and taking 2 points off the Commish
The roster has gelled well at this point and some very solid lines have emerged from what only a few weeks ago was a melting pot of ideas floating around in GM Gibbons’ mind. The reality is this team is balanced and getting very solid contributions from the wings with all the top 4 in scoring playing that position:
Matthew Tkachuk: 6 Goals, 5 Assists
Tomas Tatar: 5 Goals, 4 Assists
Nick Foligno: 2 Goals, 6 Assists
Yanni Gourde: 4 Goals, 3 Assists
The center position was one of the biggest questions marks coming out of the Dispersal Draft and yet both of the top two centers have been able to find their feet. Mikael Backlund, always the solid two-way player, has been asked to play a first line role. And while he doesn’t have the gaudy numbers of some other top centers, his 1 goal and 6 assist production coupled with shutdown ability has served the Avs well early.
There were some concerns about putting too much on the young Nick Suzuki coming out of camp and he took a few games to get his feet wet. But he has turned it on as of late with 1 goal and 3 assists in his past 3 games, and 2 goals and 4 assists overall. He has proven he belongs in a top-6 role and doesn’t look like he will be looking back.
The bottom six has also contributed solidly with Corey Perry, Luke Kunin, and Cody Eakin having at least 4 points each. Connor Zary has struggled a bit as one of the youngest players in the league, but he got his first point of the season recently and it looks like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
On the blue line, the roster is showing exactly what Gibbons had in mind when he drafted so many young talented guys back there. The core pieces of Ivan Provorov, Samuel Girard, and Travis Sanheim have all contributed offensively. Veteran presence Duncan Keith looks rejuvenated playing the up-tempo style that Claude Julien has them playing.
In addition, the goaltending has exceed expectation at this point with Mikko Koskinen sitting 4th league-wide in save % at .925.
Down on the farm, the season has been a bit more up and down with some big wins and some drubbings. The clear highlight on the farm has been the performance of this years' rookies with Philip Tomasino, Tyce Thompson, Victor Soderstrom, Calen Addison, and Ty Smith all finding their offensive game.
Tomasino is in the top 10 in scoring with 4 goals and 12 assists in his first 9 pro games. Thompson has also hit the ground running with 3 goals and 10 assists. The impressive thing there is these two are almost never on the ice together meaning they are both generating offense and driving play.
This has provided some unexpected balance to the top 6 and made them a tougher team to defend.
Speaking of defense, the D-corps is being led by Victor Soderstrom as his two goals lead all Eagles defensemen. But both Ty Smith and Calen Addison have chipped 5 assists in their first 9 games which is a pleasant start. All three are averaging over 20 minutes a night and helping out on both special teams units.
A sixth rookie is showing that his elite shot will get him places as Nolan Foote has scored an incredible 8 goals in his first 9 games. While his near 30% shooting percent will fall off as the season goes along, he should still continue to score at a high level in the top six role he has earned.
The crease has not been kind to the Eagles this year as both goalies have had sub .900 save percentages in a full tandem start to the season. Both have had good games but haven’t been able to build any real momentum as the Eagles only once all season collected points in two straight games.
Overall, there is a lot to be happy with at the 10-game mark in the Mile High City. Hopefully they can sustain this momentum and build themselves into a contender.
Welcome to 2021!