We’re back on the 30 in 30 beat again and I’ll be bringing you two previews per day so we can wrap things up just in time for the real season to begin. First up to bat, the Colorado Avalanche, brought to you by Fansided’s Mile High Sticks blog. On deck, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After a surprising start last season, the Avs had one of the worst collapses since Galloping Gertie, going 10-31-3 after January 1st. They made quite a few changes this summer, including the acquisitions of Shane O’Brien, Giguere, and Hejda, but I doubt they were enough to get Colorado back in the playoff hunt. Besides, does a top line of Landeskog-Duchene-Mueller really strike fear in anyone, even the Oilers?
From Stephen Crociata of Mile High Sticks, a more optimistic view:
What Happened Last Year:
30-44-8 68 points
4th in Northwest
14th in West
Last season was the worst season in Avalanche franchise history, and that is not figuratively it is 100% literal. The Avalanche in 2010-11 posted the fewest total points in franchise history thanks in large part to a disgraceful second half of the season, which saw them win rarely during the final four months of the season. The Avs had no business not being the worst team in hockey last year, but they are lucky enough to not only be in the same conference as Edmonton they are in the same division as well. Allowing them to avoid last place in the NW. Yet despite the fact I have completely ripped my team a new one I wouldn’t change a thing about last season. Why? Gabriel Landeskog.
Welcome to the Mile High city (Acquisitions):
- Shane O’Brien
- Chuck Kobasew
- Semyon Varlamov
- Jean Sebastian Giguere
- Jan Hejda
- Joakim Lindstrom
- Gabriel Landeskog (draft)
Lost in the mountains (Departures):
- John-Michael Liles
- Peter Budaj
- Tomas Fleischmann
- Brian Elliott
- Phillipe Dupuis
Why they are going to the playoffs:
1) If half of the Avalanche acquisitions pan out, at least one of them being one of the goalies, the Avalanche may be heading for another surprisingly good season. To start the goalies are a definite upgrade for the Avalanche but will need to show up consistently. The new and improved blueline gives the Avalanche a more western conference look than they have ever had. The West is known for their physical play while the East is known for finesse and as much as JML will be missed the changes make sense.
2) The Avs put together three consistent lines. Here are the Avalanche forwards: Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, Peter Mueller, Chuck Kobasew, Ryan O’Reilly, Joakim Lindstrom, TJ Galiardi, Jay McClement, Daniel Winnik, Brandon Yip, Kevin Porter, and Cody McCleod. There are 15 forwards and that does not include some of the young players like Brad Malone and Joey Hishon who may make the team. I know I’m biased but there will be a good deal of talent on the Avs top three lines.
Why they are headed for the lottery:
1) Losses over last 6 months prove to much for the Avalanche. It is possible the losses of Chris Stewart, John Michael Liles, Adam Foote, and Tomas Fleischmann wind up being to much leadership for the Avs to lose in a short amount of time. They still have Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, and a core of young potential leaders but has this offseason seen too much change?
2) The Avalanche lead the league in injuries. If the Avalanche have been tops in the NHL in anything over the last few seasons it is definitely injuries. The Avs have seen injuries of all shapes and sizes and it has become a trend, which is not an easy one to overcome.
45-28-9 99 points
2nd in Northwest
6th in West