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Sakic believes Avs’ blue line has earned respect

Mar 4, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

Joe Sakic AP

Certainly nobody can deny that Nathan MacKinnon is enjoying an excellent rookie season for the Colorado Avalanche. However, you’ll recall there were those who believed strongly that the Avs should have used their first overall draft pick on defenseman Seth Jones, who’s enjoying his own fine rookie campaign in Nashville.

Just looking at Colorado’s roster — specifically, the defensive corps — there are probably those who still believe that.

Even the club’s executive VP of hockey operations, Joe Sakic, admits he had concerns about his defense during the summer. Although those concerns seem to have been alleviated somewhat.

“Going into the season, was it a question mark? Yes, we’re not going to lie about that,” Sakic told ESPN.com. “But the guys have played well. [Erik Johnson] has stepped it up and has become the player we all expected, and he’s expected of himself, he’s had a tremendous year. Tyson [Barrie] has picked it up, Nick Holden has played well … really, our blue line as a unit has done a tremendous job this year. Now, if people are looking at our blue line, I believe our blue line as a unit has earned the respect of being a pretty good group.”

Maybe so, but there’s a risk in assigning too much credit to the defense when a team gets the kind of goaltending the Avs have received this season. Per Extra Skater, no team has had better netminding than the Avs at even strength when the score is close. Last season, that honor belonged to Ottawa. The season before? Florida. And we know what happened to both those teams when the goaltending fell off.

Anyway, MacKinnon is showing that he has superstar potential, so it’s hard to say he was the wrong pick. Sakic may still need to upgrade the blue line, though.

  1. joey4id - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Not one to toot his own horn. The whole Avs organizations starting with Sakic and Roy (as much as some dislike the ex goalie) have earned respect. It’s been a great turn around year.

  2. jernster21 - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    We didn’t have the D corp to bring in Seth Jones and expect someone (Johnson) to mentor him along the way while expecting Johnson himself to continue developing/elevating his game from previous seasons. The youngest guy on the blue line is Tyson Barrie at 22 and he has had enough NHL experience going into this year where the message was likely that he become a main stay on the blue line or ties were likely to be severed being in the last year of his ELC. As a result, they went out and picked up a couple older D men (Holden, Guenin, Benoit) for cheap and they’ve turned out to be gems all considered.

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