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Surprising Avs can pass Hawks with win tonight

Mar 12, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT

Semyon Varlamov, Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, Cory Sarich AP

The surprising Avalanche have an opportunity to overtake the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks tonight in Denver.

As of this morning, Colorado sits one point back of second-place Chicago in the Central Division. With St. Louis fairly comfortably in first, there’s a good chance these two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs. If that happens, tonight’s game could help determine which one gets home-ice advantage.

Goaltending and opportunistic scoring have continued to be the strengths of Colorado, which has been outshot by an average margin of 32.5 to 29.3 this season. That’s the 25th-most shots allowed in the NHL, and the 20th-fewest taken. Typically, that’s not a path to success, but it has been for Patrick Roy’s troops.

The Avs have won three of four versus the Hawks this season, including a 4-2 victory last Tuesday at the United Center that, yes, saw Colorado outshot, and by a convincing 38-21 margin.

“I think we outchanced and outplayed them,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said afterward.

But the Avs have a 28-6-3 record when being outshot this season. Not surprisingly, they also have a .920 team save percentage, the third-highest mark in the NHL, with starting goalie Semyon Varlamov (32-12-5, .925) being responsible for much of those two stats.

Also responsible for the winning record? Colorado’s talented cadre of young forwards. The Avs have scored on an impressive 10.3 percent of their shots, tied with Pittsburgh for the second-highest rate in the league.

Are Colorado’s winning ways sustainable? Well, that’s been the question all season for the Avs, and they keep sustaining them.

  1. jernster21 - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Stastny is 3 points away from giving the team 5 50+ point guys, so that helps.

  2. comeonnowguys - Mar 12, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Not terribly surprising. You could see them starting to come together, even if it didn’t translate into success before this year.

    Since everyone else is giving themselves a cookie, I like the chances of my prediction that the Avs and Blue Jackets would make the playoffs while Phoenix would not.

  3. joey4id - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Not everyone is surprised…. 😉

    Ryan Dadoun wrote the following article back in December.

    Patrick Roy: Chicago will top us in Central Division

    joey4id – Dec 27, 2013 at 8:40 PM
    Yeah! Roy knows how to take the pressure off his team. Avs have three loses more than the Hawks, with three games in hand. If they win those three games they are going to be right up there with Hawks. Both teams have nearly identical records, so those three games in hand will make a big difference if they win. Hawks won’t get much better than they are now, but I believe the Avs will get better as the boys are still learning from Roy.

    • comeonnowguys - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      “Hawks won’t get much better than they are now.”

      Yeah, tough to do when you’re the defending champs and have most of your team back.

    • hammerhead5573 - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Yikes, I’m a little nervous that the Hawks are not going to get much better and still considered one of the best teams in the NHL…… And I would suggest looking at the schedule the rest of the way. The Avs are going to have to be nearly perfect every night. With that said, I was one of those guys who said the Avs wouldn’t even make it to the playoffs so kudos to them for being this competitive.

      • joey4id - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:57 PM

        No one said they are not one of the best teams in the league. Their margin for improvement was much smaller than that of the Avs at the outset of the season. This is not rocket science. Roy will be a strong candidate to be named coach of the year. Being perfect every night is what all the best teams strive to achieve. Avs are one of the best teams of the league. So, let the battles continue to our enjoyment.

      • esracerx46 - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        A few years ago I thought the Avs were up and comers. Then they fell flat on their face. After their hot streak I was skeptical they could keep up the pace. Is it the coach, the players, or simply confidence and knowing you can win every night?

    • govtminion - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Seriously, do you ever do anything here other than quote yourself?

      • joey4id - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Seriously, why do you care? You must have something relevant to say about the article. I mean, seriously. Really! I’m serious.

  4. esracerx46 - Mar 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Their has been talks of the Hawks getting Teravainen over when his season is over. That could help the 2nd line center position, but nobody how he he’ll play in the NHL defensively or on the draws. A lot of adjustment in a short period of time. Would change the whole dynamic of your 2nd line… don’t know if you do it this year.

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