The Colorado Avalanche have just completed one of the most spectacular turnarounds in NHL history. After stumbling to a laughable 16 wins (out of 48) during last year’s lockout shortened season, the Avs brought
in Patrick Roy as the coach, and drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall. That’s it for major changes. Die-hard fans swore up and down Colorado that as soon as Joe Sacco was fired, the Avs would be fine. Die-hard fans said the Avs could make the playoffs with the right leadership, and they were right.
When healthy, during the regular season, the Avs had the ability to roll four lines without fear, and score with each one of them. It was deadly, and it was beautiful. This team looked like a battering ram most nights, and opponents could only hold them off for so long. The constant pressure, bevy of young talent and pure speed saw the Avalanche beat every team in the league this year.
Perhaps the greatest attribute that this team possesses is pure, unbelievable speed. With 15 players under the age of 30, not including 18-year-old rookie Nathan MacKinnon, coach Patrick Roy took off the chains of the previous regime, and let the boys skate. With young legs that never tire, the Avalanche are able to impose their will, only once being held scoreless during the regular season.
Along with that speed, the Avalanche play a mile above sea level. Everyone that plays in the NHL can skate, but to do so for 60 minutes when opposing teams are not acclimated to this altitude will tilt the ice in the Avs favor.
Most pundits will point to the Avs’ lack of playoff experience, but that will not be an issue. Patrick Roy has four Stanley Cup rings, executive vice president Joe Sakic has two rings and neither will be donning jerseys for the playoffs. Maxime Talbot, Cory Sarich, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and injured star Alex Tanguay all have rings, so experience is not the problem, especially with St. Patrick behind the bench.
Patrick Roy only knows how to win, he’s done it twice as a player with the Montreal Canadiens before doing it two more times with Colorado. After he retired, Roy coached the Quebec Remparts of QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) where his team won a Memorial Cup. It’s only a matter of time before Roy wins another Stanley Cup as a coach.
Most experts will pick Boston or Pittsburgh to win the Cup, but if pushed for a contender out west, look for them to say either St. Louis, Chicago, or Anaheim. It’s doubtful that anyone will give the Avs more than a “dark horse” chance to win the Cup, but be sure to tell everyone that the Avalanche has bested every team in the league. Remind them that the Avs will outskate any team in the league, and when its best forward, Matt Duchene, comes back from injury, the team can roll all four lines without mercy. This Avalanche team comes in unrelenting waves, and the playoffs should be no different.
Regular season record
52-22-8 – 112 points
Record against all playoff teams
Minnesota Wild: 4-1
Dallas Stars: 4-1
San Jose Sharks: 2-2
Los Angeles Kings: 1-2
Chicago Blackhawks: 4-1
St. Louis Blues: 1-4
Anaheim Ducks: 1-1-1
Boston Bruins: 1-1
Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-1
Detroit Red Wings: 2-0
Montreal Canadiens: 1-1
New York Rangers: 1-1
Philadelphia Flyers: 1-1
Tampa Bay Lightning: 1-1
Columbus Blue Jackets: 2-0