AVALANCHE

It was only two games, but the Avalanche woke up and put the NHL on notice

Jan 17, 2023, 11:05 AM
Avalanche celebration...
(Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Potts/NHLI via Getty Images)

Now that’s how you rebound from rock bottom.

After the Avalanche lost to the pitiful Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night, things looked bleak. Colorado was 1-6-1 over its last eight games and 11th in the Western Conference. It’s certainly not where the defending Stanley Cup champions pictured they’d be in mid-January.

So, on Friday, the Avs showed up about 20 minutes late to practice. While the national media was ripping them, it appeared Jared Bednar’s squad was having a team meeting. Bednar later said practice was moved back a half hour, but the reality is it doesn’t matter. Whatever they did that day worked.

The Avalanche smacked Ottawa 7-0 on Saturday night followed by a 6-3 beatdown of Detroit on Monday afternoon. At one point, Colorado scored 12 straight goals before their opponent tallied one. The Senators and Red Wings aren’t the NHL’s best, but there’s a reason the Avs remain among the league’s elite.

Colorado woke up and put the NHL on notice, as they still have two of the three best players in the world, and perhaps three of the best eight. Against Detroit, both Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar scored two goals. With Ottawa in town, Mikko Rantanen found the back of the net twice.

As long as the Avs have those three healthy, they can beat anyone. And speaking of healthy, Valeri Nichushkin returned to the lineup on Monday after his second lengthy absence of the year. The big man looked spry and more comfortable; hopeful those foot / ankle problems have finally healed.

Defensemen Bo Byram and Josh Manson should join the team after the All-Star Break, which is fewer than two weeks away. That leaves captain Gabriel Landeskog as the biggest name without a timeline, but unfortunately he’s still a mystery. Bednar has been coy to say the least about Landeskog’s status.

And don’t look now, but backup goalie Pavel Francouz has tended the twine the last three games. The Avalanche rallied around him for the two at Ball Arena, and we might have a goaltender controversy on our hands. Alexandar Georgiev has been pretty solid this season, going 16-11-3 with a 2.75 GA/G, but Colorado needed to shake things up.

Just like Francouz gave the team a spark in the playoffs last year, it appears his presence the last two contests has done the same.

Again, it’s just two games, and the Avalanche are still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. But if they make a run, which they almost assuredly will, we’ll remember this as the moment in time that everything turned around.

***

Avalanche

Avs fans...
Jake Shapiro

Avalanche jack up playoff ticket prices, gouge fans after title

As the prices of eggs, health insurance and just about everything else increase due to corporate greed, KSE is following suit with Avs tickets
6 days ago
Gabriel Landeskog...
Will Petersen

Finally, a “tentative” plan for the return of Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog

On Friday, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar provided the good news the captain could begin skating in Denver after the All-Star break
12 days ago
Matt Nieto...
Will Petersen

Avalanche make a trade with Sharks, bring old friend Matt Nieto back home

Nieto's been a depth piece for San Jose, tallying eight goals and seven assists in 45 games; he played 251 games in his first stint with the Avs
14 days ago
Colorado Avalanche goal...
Will Petersen

While people were counting out the Avs, they found their championship fire

The sky is the limit for the Avalanche after ripping off five wins in a row, and all that chatter about back-to-back titles is completely fair game
15 days ago
Cale Makar...
Will Petersen

It wasn’t just a rest night, because Avs defenseman Cale Makar is out again

The good news is Makar skated this morning, so it's not a serious injury; Jared Bednar told reporters he has a shot to play tomorrow night in Seattle
19 days ago
Mikko Rantanen...
Will Petersen

Mikko Rantanen breaks Avalanche record set by his boss Joe Sakic in ’96

Rantanen made history for the Avs in Calgary, becoming the fastest player in team history to score 30 goals in a season; it took him 43 games
20 days ago
It was only two games, but the Avalanche woke up and put the NHL on notice