Fresh off a postseason that saw them within one win of the Western Conference finals, the Colorado Avalanche will try to get back there. With some big offseason moves, is the new version of the Avalanche ready to conquer that task?
First Key Game: October 3rd vs. Calgary Flames
The first game of the season is a playoff re-match, at home in Denver. This will be a good test for both teams.
Odds to win the division
5:2 (1st overall) (via Betway)
Is this a bet worth taking?
There is hardly ever a reason to place money on the favorites. That’s how you end up losing money on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Again. The Central division is very good and with the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, perennial contenders Nashville Predators and an upgraded Dallas Stars vying for the title, it’ll be a tough one to win. That isn’t to say the Avalanche are bad, just that they are up against serious competition.
Keys To The Season
Story to watch
At time of publishing, Mikko Rantanen is still unsigned and is currently practicing with a team in Norway. If he doesn’t sign, that will be the story to watch. But let’s assume that he is with the team. After back to back seasons as wild card playoff entrants, can the Avalanche put together a consistent season?
Last year, they would oscillate wildly between the best performers in the league and the worst in the league, ultimately ending up, well, exactly in the middle. With consistency to their game, the Avalanche will be able to play with confidence that they can be one of the top contenders in the league, as they have shown to be. Now, they just have to make sure Nazem Kadri doesn’t get suspended in the playoffs…
Player to watch
Cale Makar. Cale showed up on the scene in Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs against the Calgary Flames and came away with the game winning goal, in a game that turned the tide for the Avalanche in the series. His appearance in the burgundy and blue certainly was note worthy, finishing the playoffs with 6 points in 10 games and leading the Avalanche with a 56.8 CF%. However, he had started three times as much in the offensive as defensive zone.
With Tyson Barrie off to Toronto, Joe Sakic has shown that he trusts Erik Johnson, Samuel Girard, Makar and first round pick Bowen Byram to be the future on defense. Now it’s time to see what Makar can do to become the future star this team hopes he can be.
A second line. This is often a theme among teams in the NHL, but the Avalanche are in great need for a second line. Last season, there were times when Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen were split up, hoping to spread the wealth.
It worked, somewhat. By bringing in Kadri, the team has a legit number 2 center and can hopefully shuffle the depth cards to find a competent second unit.
If the Colorado Avalanche were an animal, what would they be?
Flying squirrel. Can they actually fly? Are they simply falling with style? Are they even squirrels? No one knows. This is the Avalanche. Can they actually fly? We’ve seen them flying a few times before, but it might just be soaring. Not even science can answer this mystery.