Sorry this comes a little late; however, the tragic accident in Russia proved to be far more important than any season preview. This outlook is of the Colorado Avalanche, who finished a disappointing 14th in the Western Conference after a dismal 2010-2011. Instead of totally committing to a rebuilding effort for the upcoming year(s), however, the ‘Avs decided to be relatively active this season; thankfully, their young core is still very strong. Over at Mile High Sticking, Stephen Crociata believes Colorado is good enough to potentially earn a playoff berth.
Last season was the worst season in Avalanche franchise history, and that is not figuratively it is 100% literal. The Avalanche in 2010-11 posted the fewest total points in franchise history thanks in large part to a disgraceful second half of the season, which saw them win rarely during the final four months of the season. The Avs had no business not being the worst team in hockey last year, but they are lucky enough to not only be in the same conference as Edmonton they are in the same division as well. Allowing them to avoid last place in the NW. Yet despite the fact I have completely ripped my team a new one I wouldn’t change a thing about last season. Why? Gabriel Landeskog.
To read the rest of the Avalanche’s season preview, click here.
Unlike most Western Conference teams, the Devils will play the Avalanche twice this upcoming season, once in Colorado and once in the Prudential Center. The first of these matchups comes on November 30th, as the first of three games of a west trip for the ‘Devs. The other game will be in New Jersey on March 15th, and is the only one in a 16-day span that doesn’t feature the Devils playing an Atlantic Division team (with eight other games in that span against our rivals). When I think of these two teams playing each other (besides, of course, the Stanley Cup Finals ten years ago), I remember this ridiculous goal by Zach Parise in 2008-2009.
As for Colorado, last season was a fairly disappointing one. With a 14th place finish, the ‘Avs secured the second overall pick in the draft, and took a left wing with a world of potential. The likes of Landeskong and Matt Duchene lead a very young group of forwards, with only two players 30 or older currently listed on their forward roster. Erik Johnson leads a very young defensive core, with only one player listed, remarkably, over the age of 28 among their defensemen. Finally, in goal, Colorado traded plenty to acquire Seymon Varlamov from the Capitals; the 23-year-old should be a large part of their future.
Overall, while there is a lot of youth to like in the Avalanche system, they are still a team that is well away from competing in their division and, ultimately, in the conference. Colorado should surely be better this season; however, the playoffs are not likely for a team that needs to continue to develop. And if Varlamov doesn’t develop into the great goaltender the Avalanche brass believe he can be, they may regret trading away a potentially high pick to Washington. Nevertheless, this should be a more enjoyable year in Colorado, with a young group that looks to surprise the league this season.