So six games into the season the Avalanche are 4-1-0-1, and do everyones surprise. They're 2-0-0 in Denver, and 2-1-1 away from mile high. They're not even playing bad teams! The Avalanche have beaten some of the best teams from last season (San Jose, Vancouver, and Boston), and the shootout loss to Chicago shouldn't have happened (Hendricks really???), but a loss to Chicago is still respectable. So why have the Avalanche been able to do this so far while being abysmal during the third period being outshot 36-69. How are they winning?
Craig Anderson- wow what a good free agent signing he was. This is by no means a direct comparison, but I don't remember a goalie to showed his emotions like Anderson since that one guy named Patrick Roy. Anderson is not afraid to tell someone to get out of his crease, just watch the second period of the Toronto game, and you'll see Anderson tackle, push, and punch people out of his crease. Not to mention the guy can also stop the puck having the 8th best save percentage in the league (most of the people ahead of him only played in a single game) with a 0.940%, and a GAA of 1.98. Anderson has definatly helped us out in net, something we've needed since Roy retired. He may have an unorthodox style, (he reminds me of a fish out of water) but he gets the job done.
Kyle Quincey- I think every Avalanche fan wants this guy's jersey. He's become a fan favorite after most of us didn't want him here in the first place after trading Ryan Smyth. He's been a rock at defense so far and doing more than his fair share on the powerplay, not to mention he leads the team in ice team. He's easily my favorite thing to ever leave Detroit. So far Quincey has 1 goal and 5 assists, is a +2, and has 4 powerplay points. He's turned our powerplay around, and has a great shot from the point. He's been fantastic for the Avalanche this season, and I hope there's more in the tank.
Powerplay- After last year's powerplay, which was a waste of 2 minutes, this year we've capitalized on our chances. If there is one thing I noticed about the Avalanche this year is that they are a solid team defensivly, but they capitalize on all of the chances they get. The Avs this year have been great on the powerplay boasting the league's second best powerplay at 38.5%. Quincey has certainly helped that, but I've noticed the Avs crash the net much more this year, and that has only helped the powerplay. I haven't seen our powerplay look this good for a long time, and I definatly think Joe Sacco has been apart of that.
Penalty Kill- Another thing I'm not afraid of is our penalty kill. Last year a penalty almost always resulted in a goal. Not this year, I think we all noticed that we can actually get the puck out of our zone. We've been the first to get to rebounds, which is crucial, and we've been doing this with young guns on the ice (Duchene, Galiardi, O'Reilly, Jones), and we've even scored a shorthanded goal (David Jones). We had 4 shorthanded goals all of last year, and this year Duchene had 2 chances alone, and Jones put one in the back of the net. This penalty kill is not only effective but dangerous, and it's help this team of youngsters gain confidence, and help the Avalanche to a 4-1-0-1 record.
It's been 6 games but these are just observations. Obviously contributions from the first line has also helped us, but I think we knew that had to happen for us to win. These are more pleasent surprises. The key to a good season is almost directly related to special teams play, which the Avalanche are dominating right now. Anderson has helped us out a lot, and it looks like there's only more to come in the future. Let's hope the team's intensity keeps up. LET"S GO AVS!