Don’t look now, but do look now, because the Colorado Avalanche are 41 games away from cracking a wild card spot. Right now the Avalanche currently sit tied for the final wild-card spot in the West, with a record of 22-16-3 with 47 points and a +11 goal differential. Do we all recall the Avalanche last season posting a league-worst 22-56-4 record only recording 48 points in an 82 game season.
Well, fast forward a year and the Avalanche have already reached their win total from last season and are one point away from toppling their point total from last season. The Avalanche shed a huge anchor on their team, Matt Duchene and since then the team has been soaring. Nathan McKinnon has excelled without the burden of Duchene around him as he has 52 points on the year, putting him tied with Claude Giroux for second in points in the NHL. Mikko Rantanen, McKinnon’s sidekick this season, the Avalanche’s 2015 1st round pick played 75 games last season totaling 48 points. Put him alongside the leagues best McKinnon now plus a successful Avalanche team and Rantanen is tallying 41 points in 41 games. Putting him among the top 20 scorers in the NHL right now.
What else could be credited to the Avalanche’s success, well one it has to be the burden and negativity that surrounded Matt Duchene last year(look at Duchene now, on one of the leagues worst teams. Get what you asked for Duchene), a healthy Semyon Varlamov, a solid back up tender, and players like Gabriel Landeskog producing finally along with some key depth players doing their part. They have a relatively experienced blue line in Patrik Nameth, Eric Johnson and Tyson Barrie, throw in two motivated and highly skilled young defenseman, Samuel Girad, and Nikita Zadorov and you have a winning, playoff contending Avalanche team.
The Avalanches remaining games though, should we be alarmed? Well, they play some tough opponents to close out January, nothing that can’t be beaten. For February they have five games that should be must wins and the rest games that are toss-ups. March they stay in some Western Conference play and when the playoffs are on the line playing against other Western Conference teams, anything is possible. What I can say is that the Avalanche have a shot, they continue to do what they are doing, and close out games that matter come March we may see some new faces in the playoffs this season.