The Colorado Avalanche stunned many by winning their first six games and 14 of their first 16 games. They came back to earth a bit during the season and got hot at the end of the year to win the Central Division.
By winning the division, the Avalanche got to play a wild card. That team, however, was one of the hottest teams in the league. The Minnesota Wild clinched the top wild card spot with a couple games left in the regular season. The former Northwest Division rivals played a dramatic seven-game series that the Wild won in overtime.
The Avalanche will not have a lot of changes to their lineup, but a pair of moves were high-profile transactions. They lost center Paul Statsny and added right wing Jarome Iginla in free agency. They also acquired defenseman Brad Stuart from the San Jose Sharks for a pair of draft picks and forward Daniel Briere from the Montreal Canadiens for P.A. Parenteau and a draft pick.
Avalance vs. Wild last season
Regular season – Nov. 29: Avalanche 3, Wild 1 at Xcel Energy Center; Nov. 30: Avalanche 3, Wild 2, SO at Pepsi Center; Dec. 14: Wild 2, Avalanche 1, SO at Pepsi Center; Jan. 11: Avalanche 4, Wild 2 at Xcel Energy Center; Jan. 30: Avalanche 5, Wild 4 at Pepsi Center
Playoffs – Apr. 17: Avalanche 5, Wild 4, OT at Pepsi Center; Apr. 19: Avalanche 4, Wild 2 at Pepsi Center; Apr. 21: Wild 1, Avalanche 0, OT at Xcel Energy Center; Apr. 24: Wild 2, Avalanche 1 at Xcel Energy Center; Apr. 26: Avalanche 4, Wild 3, OT at Pepsi Center; Apr. 28: Wild 5, Avalanche 2 at Xcel Energy Center; Apr. 30: Wild 5, Avalanche 4, OT at Pepsi Center
Avalanche vs. Wild this season
Regular season – Oct. 9 at Xcel Energy Center; Oct. 11 at Pepsi Center; Feb. 7 at Xcel Energy Center; Feb 28: at Pepsi Center; Mar. 8 at Xcel Energy Center
Patrick Roy (52-22-8 in one season as a head coach, all in Colorado)
Goaltenders – 20 Reto Berra, 1 Semyon Varlamov
Defensemen – 4 Tyson Barrie, 5 Nate Guenin, 8 Jan Hejda, 2 Nick Holden, 6 Erik Johnson, 17 Brad Stuart, 44 Ryan Wilson
Forwards – 58 Patrick Bordeleau, 48 Daniel Briere, 24 Marc-Andre Cliche, 9 Matt Duchene, 12 Jarome Iginla, 92 Gabriel Landeskog, 29 Nathan MacKinnon, 11 Jamie McGinn, 55 Cody McLeod, 7 John Mitchell, 90 Ryan O’Reilly, 40 Alex Tanguay, 25 Maxime Talbot, 18 Jesse Winchester
How they can make the playoffs
Their young talent continues to develop and Varlamov makes the necessary adjustments. The Avalanche are still a young team with plenty of elite offensive talent. The addition of Jarome Iginla works out as perfectly as they scripted and the young players learn from him. The Wild exposed Varlamov’s area of weakness. Now it is his turn to make the adjustments and take it away.
How they cannot make the playoffs
The Avalanche take a step back in their development. They have been in this situation before and did not handle it well. In 2009-10, they surprisingly made the playoffs. However, they finished fourth, third and fifth, respectively, in the Northwest Division the following seasons and did not make the playoffs in any of them. The loss of Paul Statsny proves bigger than expected.