The Colorado Avalanche had a shocking season, and it began from the start of the season. I remember predicting that they were nowhere close to being a playoff team; they definitely proved me wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Minnesota Wild knocked them out in the first round.
I remember watching their opener against Anaheim, which of course was a powerhouse this past season. It was an impressive 6-1 win, with Anaheim’s lone goal coming with just seconds remaining in regulation. I wondered at that point if it was the beginning of a shocking season. They won 12 out of their first 13 games and ended with a 52-22-8 record, good enough for first in the Central Division and 2nd in the Western Conference. They were 4th in goals for with 250 and 5th on the powerplay at 19.8%. The only downside to their season was the penalty kill, which was ranked 24th, but it didn’t hurt them much.
The two most impressive players for them this season was rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Semyon Varlamov. Nathan MacKinnon notched 63 points, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy. He wasn’t the top producer, but he was a huge part of their success, and those are impressive numbers for an 18 year-old rookie. Semyon Varlamov had an outstanding season and was in the running for the Vezina, but lost to Tuuka Rask. Varlamov finished with a 41-14-6 record, a .927 SV%, and a 2.41 GAA. He was actually becoming one of my favorite goaltenders with how quick he was until the incident he was involved in back during late October.
The biggest impact, though, came from Patrick Roy. He did an amazing job, pulling these young guys together and getting them to give 100% effort every night. I had no idea he would make such a huge impact for them. They showed tremendous teamwork and had very balanced scoring across the board. Roy was able to role all four lines. What really impressed me the most, though, was how many times they were able to capitalize by pulling the goalie. It helped them gain points in the standings.
For this season, they just need to keep up what they’ve been doing. Losing Stastny to St. Louis was a disappointment for them this offseason, but signing Iginla might help them fill that void. He can still bring the same amount of production as Stastny, and I think it will help bringing a veteran in to the group.
I expect them to be as good as they were this past season, maybe even better with the growth of Nathan MacKinnon. He might be able to bring at least 30 goals this season. I also believe they can possibly make it past the first round in the 2015 playoffs.