The Surging Colorado Avalanche

by Team Del Genio

Don’t look now, but the Colorado Avalanche have taken their level of play to the next level since the All-Star break in the National Hockey League. 

The reigning Stanley Cup champions went into a Western Conference showdown with the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday looking to extend a five-game winning streak after a 4-1 win against Calgary on Saturday. That triumph came after a 5-1 win in Winnipeg on Friday. Colorado had a 7-1-2 record in their last ten games, and they had won twenty-seven of their last thirty-eight games at home after winning their previous game by three or more goals. 

That trend helped us gain confidence that the Avalanche would continue their winning streak against the bitter rivals, the Golden Knights, who eliminated them from the 2021 playoffs. Colorado had won nineteen of their last twenty-two games after winning their previous two games by three or more goals. The Avalanche had scored four or more goals in four straight games, and they were averaging 4.4 goals per game during their five-game winning streak. They were continuing to play with star defenseman Cole Makar, yet this team has been dealing with injuries all season. 

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are leading the way in the meantime during their current hot streak. MacKinnon had scored four goals and added six assists during this stretch, and Rantanen had added four goals and two assists. The Avalanche were thriving on the other end of the ice as well as they had held their last five opponents to 2.0 goals per game. Colorado had won forty-four of their last fifty-six games after playing a game where they did not allow more than one goal, and they had won fourteen of their last sixteen games after playing two straight games where they did not give up more than one goal. 

The Avalanche were using Alexandar Georgiev as their goaltender against Vegas. In his previous seven starts, he had a 2.79 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Colorado had beaten four straight teams with a winning record, and they had won twenty-nine of their last thirty-seven games against opponents winning 51-60% of their games. 

The icing on the cake for us was that the Avalanche had the opportunity tonight to avenge a 3-2 loss at home in Ball Arena to the Golden Knights on January 2nd. The Avalanche had won eighteen of their last twenty-six games when playing with revenge from an upset loss at home to their opponent. Vegas was averaging 3.3 goals per game, yet Colorado had beaten eleven of their last fourteen games in the second half of the season against opponents who are average 3.0 goals per game. 

The Avalanche rewarded our faith in them with a 3-0 shutout victory against the Golden Knights in their last game in the month of February. It was MacKinnon and Rantanen that continued to carry the team despite their injured list. Rantanen scored an unassisted goal in the first fourteen seconds of the game and then added a second goal at the 16:40 minute mark of the second period. MacKinnon scored an empty netter in the third period. Georgiev stopped all 31 of the shots he faced, and the Team won their NHL Western Conference Game of the Month. 

Colorado begins the month of March with 73 points, good for third place in the Central Division, two points behind the Dallas Stars in first place, and a point behind a Minnesota Wild team that was victorious on Tuesday. Yet the Avalanche have only played 58 games this season, two less than the Stars and three behind the Wild. The pathway is clear for the defending champions to seize the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and eventually represent the conference in the Stanley Cup finals, especially if Makar can pass concussion protocols by the postseason. 

Good luck - TDG.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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