Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Colorado Avalanche Season Preview 2014-15

2014-2015 Colorado Avalanche Season Preview

Last season the Avalanche may have been the most exciting team in the league.  Colorado played with a lot of confidence and tenacity largely due to hot head, head coach Patrick Roy.  Nathan Mackinnon who was the first overall pick in 2013 started off slow but finished off the season reeling off goals and points to have one of the best rookie seasons in the last decade.  This team is very young with the core players, Mackinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, O'Reilly, Barrie all being under the age of 24.  Gabriel Landeskog was named the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years of age two seasons ago and is proving to be a good leader who stands up for his teammates and plays a good two way game.  The Avalanche finished strong to a 2nd overall seeding in the West and continued in the first few games of their first round matchup with Minnesota, Mackinnon lighting it up for 10 points in 7 games which they eventually fell to the Wild in.  Jarome Iginla was added to the roster in the offseason, I think this slows them down and as a whole the team takes a step back and the flash and excitement wears off.

Semyon Varlamov- Goaltending was a strong point for the Avalanche last year with Varlamov winning 41 games and helping to lead his team to the playoffs after a 4 year dry spell.  The Avs went from worst to first in their division and that was in large part due to Semyon having a career year.  In previous seasons with the Washington Capitals, it was hard to rely on Semyon due to inconsistency but all in all the played very well behind a relatively thin defense and despite legal troubles.  Varly was a finalist for Vezina, a lot of continued success will be connected to him.

Patrick Roy-  Last season eyes were on Roy because it often happens that superstar players are not superstar head coaches.  Patrick did not follow the norm of all star players/sub par coaches and I would have to say it has to do with his fiery compassion and willingness to stand up for his players.  In one case last year Roy started pushing the glass which separated the two teams benches towards the Anaheim bench during a 6-1 win due to the game becoming quite scrappy.  Roy has a lot of hard work ahead of him because the league has taken note of his young club and have surely devised strategies to break up their high speed attack.

Iginla's Impact-  Jarome Iginla has scored over 500 goals and 1,000 points in the NHL, that being said, he is on the wrong side of 35 so his impact could go one of two ways.  In the locker room I believe that Iginla will have advice and encouragement towards players that will help for morale, however he is not the speedster he used to be and I think that does not bode well for the teams usual fast paced game.  It is questionable as to why Jarome decided not to re-sign with the Bruins because the way he plays is way more suitable for that club, less high flying but more hard hitting and opportunities to set up in front of the net and score some points.  Iginla has been trying to win a cup and ride off into the sunset but he keeps signing with the wrong teams to do so, he has signed a 3 year contract which allows him more than one opportunity but also gives time to get even slower and detrimental to the teams system.  

Defense- Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie are solid defensemen as are Jan Hejda and the rest of the D core, but all in all they are pretty thin on the blue line.  Playoff inexperience was a component that led to the Avs demise, but these guys need a more solid D core, Avs nation hopes the additions of Brad Stuart and Zach Redmond will bode well for them and help them progress in the playoffs.

Predictions-  Aside from Matt Duchene and Nate Mackinnon having breakout campaigns, I don't see the Avs being as good as last year.  Colorado plays in the Central who have 3 or 4 cup contenders within the division itself and I think their magic wearing off and the addition of Iginla will slow them down.  I think the Avs will be a bubble team to low playoff seed.

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