Avalanche Start Hot, Looking to Bring it Back Home
Avs Set a Franchise Record
The Colorado Avalanche are finally back from a long road trip for a showdown with the Hawks at Pepsi Center tonight. The Avs faired decent on a tough early season road trip, getting 5 out of 10 points, a successful road trip in most peoples eyes....
Wait! You say the Avs went undefeated on the road trip? They took 10 out 10 points in the five games? They are in first place in the West?
Yes, all those things are true right now for the Avs. Everyone in Denver said they needed at least 5 points to say the road trip was successful, and, well, they did way better than that. Not only that, but it was also a franchise record for a road trip of at least 5 games. That means this Avalanche team did something those super teams from 1996-2002 couldn't!
How did the Avs do this? Getting good performances from at least one line each and every game. At first, it was the third line of Landeskog, O'Reilley, and Winnik, a line that normally shouldn't be the scoring threat. They now contend to be one of the best third lines in the league, if not the best!
Then, towards the halfway point of the trip, the top two lines began to heat up, and the Avs became a scoring threat every single game like we haven't seen in years. Probably a highlight of the trip came when the Avs scored a touchdown on ex-goaltender Craig Anderson, who had a fallout with the team over personal issues.
The other big win was a 1-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins in Boston. Semyon Varlamov was perfect and played out of his mind to preserve the shutout. The last time that happened was when a goaltender by the name of Patrick Roy minded the Colorado net.
That brings us to the other reason the trip was a success: Goaltending! Varlamov was near perfect the entire road trip and played like a starting goalie should, with a solid J.S. Giguere subbing for two games, although in one of the games the Avs only allowed 15 total shots.
Both goaltenders look leaps and bounds ahead of any of the tandems the Avs have have had since the Roy's retirement. Varly's style is quite different from any goaltender that has played with the Avs, and his athleticism really shines in his game. His lateral movement is one of the best I have ever seen. However, after watching Varly play, I can understand why he has had groin injuries. It isn't because he is just an injury prone player, but his style puts so much pressure on his groin and leg muscles.
No, this picture is not a shot of Varlamov dropping to the butterfly, this is his stance. As you can see, it is very wide, but he is still stable. To hold this type of stance, the strain on the groin can be very tough and needs to have a ton of flexibility. This summer, Varlamov worked extremely hard on strengthening his groin to combat those potential injuries. Hopefully it works for the whole season, as I can only imagine the strain it puts on your groin over an 82 game schedule
As a whole, everything seems to be clicking. The defense, the special teams... it is all there.
Tonight, it will be interesting to see if they can bring the heat back home and play well in front of the fans. Denver fans are looking for something to cheer for, and this is the perfect opportunity for the team to gain back the fans they lost after the dynasty ended.
This team has the excitement that is fun to watch at Pepsi Center. Let's see how they play tonight and whether they can seize the moment.