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Hey, look: the Avs are red-hot now

Jan 6, 2012, 11:54 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche v Boston Bruins Getty Images

To some extent, it makes perfect sense that the Colorado Avalanche have become one of the NHL’s streakiest teams in the last few years.

They hold the pulse-quickening blueprint of an up-an-down team as they boast an unusually aggressive scheme, unpredictable goaltending and a young but raw core of talent.

Still, the Avs have a way of sneaking up on you, so it might be a surprise that their 4-0 triumph against the Chicago Blackhawks was their fourth victory in a row and ninth “W” in 10 games. If the playoffs began right now, they’d grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

For those of you who haven’t been following those cardiac Colorado kids, I thought I’d examine that 10-game streak to figure out what elements are working so well.

Extra time excellence: Four of those 10 wins came in extra time, with three of those bonus points coming via shootout successes.

Great goaltending: At first, it seemed like Jean-Sebastien Giguere might steal the team’s starting job after he won four games in a row. Semyon Varlamov opened the door back up when Jiggy stumbled once, so now they’re both on the top of their games.

Limiting shots: That goaltending duo has enjoyed some better defense, especially in the last six games. The Avs have allowed less than 30 shots in five out of those six contests, which I’d say is a pretty good goal in the post-lockout era.

Excellent penalty killing: Colorado’s only allowed three power-play goals in that 10-game run and the PK has been perfect during their current four-game winning streak.

Consistent scoring: As you can see from the previous points, it’s been almost all about defense. That being said, they’ve scored at least two goals in all but one game – their only loss.

So can they keep this up?

I’d hate to rain on their parade, but it won’t be easy. The Avalanche will end this four-game road trip with what should be a tough visit to face the Blues in St. Louis. They’ll only have three home games in all of January. The toughest stretch comes from Jan. 12 to Jan. 22:

Jan. 12: at Nashville
Jan. 14: at Dallas
Jan. 16: at Phoenix
Jan. 18: vs. Florida
Jan 21. at Los Angeles
Jan. 22: at Anaheim

Still, the Avs are succeeding in surprising ways already. Few expected them to handle the Chicago by the tune of 4-0 tonight, for one thing.

***

OK, so you’ve endured my skeptical schedule analysis, but what do you think about the Avalanche’s chances? Should they aim a solid playoff seed, merely settle for any spot at all or will they come crashing back down to earth? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. danphipps01 - Jan 7, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    I can see a #6-8 placement, but I’m not expecting much better than that. They’re up against too many great teams. The ‘Nucks, ‘Hawks and Wings are about as fantastic as usual, the Sharks seem to be remaining in contention for at least another season, the Kings have recovered from early woes and struggled up to where they were hoping to be, the Wild, though currently coming off a terrible streak, remain surprisingly potent, the Blues are a similar story and Nashville, Dallas and Phoenix are all doing relatively well… there’s a lot of competition in the West for a change. They’re going to have to battle for a lower seed, I think, because the top 4-5 are just too firmly held by the regulars. I can see them in the postseason, though, which is a bit of a surprise considering it’s already January. Figured they’d have pulled an Edmonton and seen themselves out the door, but they’re really proving tenacious. I’m looking forward to seeing what the playoff makeup is this year. With Florida, Ottawa and Toronto currently in place to make the postseason and Winnipeg battling for a place, it looks like this year’s playoffs are going to be a fairly pronounced change from the last three.

  2. emperorzero - Jan 7, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    It’s possible the Avalanche make the playoffs, but they are too streaky. If they were more consistant I’d like their chances, but right now I think you have to ask yourself will they be hot or cold those last 10-15 games.

  3. blackhawkslove - Jan 7, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Blackhawks sure played a real awful game tonight, and props to the Avs for capitalizing on that. But I don’t expect their hot streak to run much longer. Teams like the Wild and the Oilers had hot streaks, and eventually fizzled off. If they’re not meant to be strong, it wont last.

  4. govtminion - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    The West is so wide-open right now, and the Avs so inconsistent, that it’s very hard to say where they’ll end up. Remember a month ago? We gave this team up for dog meat and the calls to fire the coach and GM staff were getting mighty loud (still in favor of canning Sherman and the GM staff, but whatever).

    My prediction though? They get in at the last second in one of the bottom spots, just barely, and end up in a spirited but futile sweep at the hands of one of the West’s big guns like Vancouver or Detroit. They’re playing well lately, but I don’t get the feeling that these guys are ready to take on the big dogs and get much of anywhere.

  5. polegojim - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Congrats to the Avs!

    Now – go get a Head Coach who can instill and inspire consistency and I’ll buy the playoffs. Other wise – maybe some noise, but no post season as usual.

    Sacco doesn’t have what it will take for the young Avs to succeed….before they’re not so young and still struggling.

  6. bcjim - Jan 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Fail for Nail, Avs!! Go for that first pick! (that you traded to Washington ;-))

    • danphipps01 - Jan 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      Lord knows the Capitals need a Russian forward who performs for the first thirty games of the season so when Alex Ovechkin finally shows up at the end of December they won’t be competing with Toronto and Winnipeg for the bottom seeds.

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