The Avalanche Might Be Legit
By Patrick Hoffman
For the past few seasons, the Colorado Avalanche have been quite dreadful.
They have been inconsistent, have struggled to make the postseason, had lots of players injured, and everything that could go wrong actually did. It was a team and a franchise with lots of questions and not many answers.
Fast forward to today (March 19, 2018) and the team is singing a much different tune. As of this writing (March 19, 2018), the Avs hold the first wild card spot in a super tight Western Conference.
The team is currently up two points on the second wild card team, the Kings, and are also two points on the Dallas Stars and three points up on the St. Louis Blues. It is going to be a fight to the finish, but for several reasons, this club has a legitimate chance to get into the postseason dance.
Perhaps the primary reason for this is because of the play of 22-year-old superstar Nathan MacKinnon. As of this writing (March 19, 2018), MacKinnon has 38 goals (tied for fifth in the league), and 51 assists for 89 points (tied for second in the league).
With Matt Duchene out of the picture, the Avalanche's offense revolves around MacKinnon. He has tremendous speed, soft hands, a nose for the net, and is a huge percentage of his team's offense (38.1 percent).
For MacKinnon, he has shown the league that he is a superstar and is now the face of this Avalanche franchise. He should be a Hart Trophy candidate and while he may not win it, there is no doubt that he is the most important player on his hockey club.
Other players that have stepped up on offense for this team are the likes of Mikko Rantanen (25 goals and 52 assists for 77 points) and Gabriel Landeskog (24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points). These guys have been consistent and like MacKinnon, make up a good chunk of the team's offense.
Another reason why the team has been successful this season is the play of defenseman Tyson Barrie. In 58 games this season, the 26-year-old blue liner has 50 points (11 goals and 39 assists) and has not only been the team's best defenseman, but he's also been one of the club's best players on offense.
The team has also been decent on special teams this season. They are currently 14th in the league (March 19, 2018) on the power play and also have the league's best penalty kill (March 19, 2018).
As you folks already know, special teams play is huge when it comes the playoffs. Should the Avalanche find their way into the postseason, they will need to bring their strong special teams play with them.
This is a team that has a chance to be extremely dangerous come April. They have a good offense, a defense that can not only play well in their own zone, but can also contribute on offense, and two good enough goaltenders in Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier.
It's going to be a dog fight from now till the end of the regular season, but if the Avalanche continue to play the way they are capable of playing, there is no reason why they cannot be considered a threat at the most important time of the year.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.