||7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
|16-26-5||January 18th, 2010
|37 pts||Pepsi Center
15th in West
3rd in West
Happy Monday, Avalanche fans. It is time.
It's time to openly admit that, 48 games into the regular season, our Colorado Avalanche are a first-place team. They are not in first because they got off to a hot start at the beginning of the year. They are not in first because they play in a weak division. They are not in first because they got lucky.
They are in first because they are a damn good hockey team.
They've beaten Buffalo. They've beaten New Jersey. They've beaten San Jose, Chicago, Detroit (twice) and Calgary (four times). Overall, they are 12-8-3 against the other 15 in-the-playoffs-today teams. And they've done that with a grueling road-heavy schedule peppered with numerous back-to-backs while losing 187 man-games (and counting) from injuries to 15 different players.
We no longer can channel our inner-Lou Holtz and play the underdog card. It's taken us a while to wrap our brains around the fact that our boys are not playing above their heads; they are simply better than we dared to hope they would be. But that's where we are now. Other teams may not have the memo yet and fans around the league may be even farther behind. But we know. We know that this team isn't just going to be a good team down the road. This is a good team now. Not a great team, perhaps (power play, I'm looking at you), but a team that could make the playoffs this year and a team that will be even better in the future.
The Avalanche are the most improved team in the National Hockey League this year. They need just 9 more points to match last year's total of 69. The Islanders are the only team close to that. As you can see, Edmonton is one of the teams who have a long way to go to match their 2008-2009 point totals.
|-11||New York Islanders|
|-20||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|-22||Los Angeles Kings|
|-40||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|-41||New Jersey Devils|
|-43||St Louis Blues|
|-44||New York Rangers|
|-47||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|-47||San Jose Sharks|
|-56||Detroit Red Wings|
But "most improved" isn't the story any longer. It's not about the play of Craig Anderson or the coaching of Joe Sacco or the sudden development of Matt Duchene, Radar O'Reilly, TJ Galiardi, Chris Stewart, Kyle Cumiskey, Ryan Wilson, Brandon Yip and David Jones. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...your Colorado Avalanche are in the playoff hunt. It won't be easy and it is by no means a sure thing. But that is the story now.
Enjoy your day. :)
|Penner||41 pts||Top Scorer||Stastny||44 pts|