Five Reasons to Get Excited for the Colorado Avalanche
by Aaron Musick (@Avalanegist)
Coming off a year in which the team finished second to last in the league and drafted first overall, there usually isn’t much to be excited for but then again, it’s not like the Colorado Avalanche did nothing this past offseason. Out is Joe Sacco, general Greg Sherman has been turned into Milton from “Office Space” and, of course, they drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall
In spite of their finish, the Avs fans have five things they can really look forward to this upcoming season.
First overall pick Nathan MacKinnon looks to make an impact on the Avs – Getty Images
He wasn’t drafted first overall just for his looks, MacKinnon heads into the season with the dubious title of first overall selection. Want to know just how tough that is, call Erik Johnson. MacKinnon is fast, really fast in fact and has great offensive instincts. Going from juniors to the NHL will be a tough transition and it will be fun to see how well he adjusts. When he does though, he will provide more offense to an already potent set of forwards and a guy who scores big goals late in big games. Every forward goes through growing pains and watching MacKinnon negotiate his will be fun to watch.
Alex Tanguay returns to the Avs
As the Avs made moves to bring back the glory days in the form of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, they acquired one of the last active players from the 2001 cup team. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Alex Tanguay is back with the burgundy and blue, playing on a line with Paul Stastny and captain Gabriel Landeskog. He’s older but still has the smooth hands and great vision that helped the Avs win their second cup. He remains a fan favorite, someone the fans have regretted saying goodbye to and their reaction to his return alone makes for some entertainment. Oh and he can score too.
2009 draft picks Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly are set to play on the same line – Getty Images
Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly on a line
With Nathan MacKinnon in the fold, something had to happen with the three top six centers already on the roster. Matt Duchene was not going to be moved to wing after he put up 43 points in 47 games. The ever-rumored Paul Stastny kept his second line center position. So what happens to Ryan O’Reilly?
Patrick Roy, instead of starting MacKinnon on the wing, decided to pair up Duchene and O’Reilly, moving the latter to the first line left wing. It is still early but that move looks to be brilliant. Now, Matt Duchene can be more aggressive on faceoffs knowing O’Reilly would just replace him. O’Reilly has fit in well in camp and preseason; the pair have proven to be a menace for opposing defenses. Expect O’Reilly and Duchene to get a lot of ice time each game both as an offensive unit as well as on defense.
When that line clicks, it will be worth the price of admission.
Since the Winnipeg Jets moved from Atlanta two years ago, the NHL thought it was a good idea to take them out of the Southeast Division. As such, the divisions were realigned and now the Avalanche are in the new central division with the aforementioned Jets, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators (Seth Jones and all) and the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Only the Minnesota Wild came over to the central with the Avs. This new division means faster games, earlier road games, easier travel and more exciting opponents. Up to ten games against the Blackhawks and Blues will make for some outstanding entertainment.
Patrick Roy returns to the Avs, this time as a coach. – Getty Images
Patrick Roy’s post game interviews
It is yet to be decided whether Roy will be a good coach but he will be a human quote machine. While Joe Sacco used a cookie cutter to give his postgame comments, Roy will bring his sizable wit (Jeremy Roenick is still thinking of a comeback) and honesty to every postgame conference. He is not cruel but he is honest about how the team played, what they did well and what needs to improve. He’s not above criticizing himself either.
Win or lose, Roy’s conferences will be awesome to watch.
Bonus: New Jumbotron
If the reasons listed above are not reason enough to get excited for Avs games, let alone actually, you know, going to the games, maybe this will.
The New Jumbotron at Pepsi Center. – Getty Images
The new jumbotron, which replaces the old one from 1999, stretches from blue line to blue line and offers crystal clear picture that will be hard to ignore. It is going to be hard to watch the game on the ice instead of the jumbotron. I can say this: come playoff time, I hope the Avs host viewing parties on that thing.
It will not be all rose petals this season for the Avalanche. There will be rough parts of the season but that does not mean it’ll be all thorns either. Given the young talent and coaching staff that stresses hard work and effort, the Avs could be a surprising team this season, maybe even making the playoffs.