Are the Colorado Avalanche contenders or pretenders?
The Colorado Avalanche had the worst record in the NHL last season with a 22-56-4 record with 48 points. Jared Bednar was in his first season as head coach after coaching the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) to a Calder Cup Championship beforehand. Well, this season is quite different for the Avalanche. Colorado's record is 22-16-3 with 47 points and they are currently in the second wild-card spot in the western conference after beating the Minnesota Wild 6-2 on Saturday Night.
The reason why the Colorado Avalanche have been playing a lot better is that they traded away Matt Duchene. Colorado's record is 14-10-3 ever since then. Also, Nathan McKinnon is playing the superstar he is supposed to be. He has scored 18 goals and recorded 34 assists so far this season. McKinnon's play is elevating his teammates.
Mikko Rantanen is a star in the making as well for the Avalanche. He has scored 15 goals and recorded 26 assists. Gabriel Landeskog has scored 16 goals and recorded 16 assists. Alexander Kerfoot has scored 10 goals and recorded 17 assists.
Defenseman Tyson Barrie has scored four goals and recorded 23 assists. Barrie is out for the next few weeks with a hand injury. They aren't very deep on defence, but they are playing as a cohesive unit. Defenseman Samuel Girard was a part of the Matt Duchene trade. He has seven assists in 27 games and his plus/minus is -5.
Nail Yakopuv has scored eight goals and recorded five assists in 35 games for Colorado so far this season. Blake Comeau, Matt Nieto, and J.T. Compher each have scored seven goals so far this season. Carl Soderberg has scored nine goals and recorded 11 assists so far this season. The point is that different players have been contributing to the Avalanche so far this season.
Colorado has scored 135 goals so far this season and they have given up 124 goals so far this season. Colorado is ranked seventh in the NHL with a 21.2% power-play percentage. Colorado is ranked fourth in the NHL with an 83.9% penalty-kill percentage.
The Avalanche don't have a bad goaltending tandem either. Semyon Varlamov's record is 13-9-2 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA, along with one shutout. Jonathan Bernier's record is 9-7-1 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA, along with two shutouts.
The odds are the Avalanche will be in the wild-card race until the very end, but it wouldn't be surprising on the outside looking in because of teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, and Chicago Blackhawks trying to catch them and that's a tall task for Colorado especially since they play in a tough Central Division. If Colorado does make it to the postseason, they will be a tough out.