The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - October 17th, 2013

Patrick Smith

Morning again, kids. Let's all wish a hearty "Feel better!" towards Sandie as as the Cupcake Countess herself attempts to recover from an illness. Now, on to business.

lol.

And as the Stars skated against Roy's new-look Avalanche on Tuesday at Pepsi Center, they discovered a hint of Belfour's hunger in the air. It might be the thing that this team has been missing in the young season, and it's certainly something it could use more of as it tries to find its way.

When coach Lindy Ruff issued the challenge on Monday that he was eager to see his team's response to a blowout loss on Saturday, you got a little curious. When he said Tuesday at the morning skate that he had already put a few defensemen on notice, you were intrigued. And when the Stars bumbled their way through the first period and gave away two goals, you got a little sick to your stomach.

Oh, look. Someone mentioned Roy's behavior on opening night.

Sure, there was that meltdown in his first game in charge when he nearly crashed through a glass partition during an argument with Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau following a 6-1 win. Other than that, he’s been fairly mild mannered.

Roy’s players certainly don’t view him as volatile so much as an invigorating presence that’s ignited a much-needed spark. Behind Roy, the team is 6-0 and can match the best start in franchise history with a win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

Breaking the golden rule of hockey fandom by linking to ESPN but y'all are just going to have to deal cause I'm doing it twice. Nooch.

An interesting experiment in fan reaction occurring in Denver where the Colorado Avalanche are the story of this young NHL season. With their 3-2 win over Dallas on Tuesday night, the Avs moved to a remarkable 6-0-0. The win marked their first home game after three impressive road wins, and yet the announced attendance at the Pepsi Center was 15,208, well below the capacity of 18,007.

And again.

Varlamov has been the goalie of record in four of those games and has stopped all but four of 132 shots directed his way, which converts to an other-worldly save percentage of .970.

"First of all, I think Varly deserves a lot of credit for his hard work and his commitment," Roy told ESPN.com Monday.

From the moment Roy took over as head coach and vice president of hockey operations in late May and the Avs hired Roy's old mentor Francois Allaire as goaltending coach, the two focused on helping Varlamov become something different, something better.

Allaire met with Varlamov before training camp in Switzerland where the two worked for about a week. Then Roy journeyed to Montreal and caught up with Allaire and Varlamov and veteran Avs backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The group continued their workouts there for a couple more weeks.

Player safety is apparently an issue in the NHL. Hmm.

Fines though haven't always proven to be effective so perhaps you go even deeper, somehow finding a way to hit teams where it really hurts, in an area such as cap space. Just spitballing here but perhaps any suspension that's longer than three games is accompanied with a $100,000 per game hit on next season's cap. Harsh? Absolutely. That's the point. Maybe the organizational pressure would be enough to get the hits out of the game, or at least the serial hitters. If all of a sudden by proxy Kaleta becomes a player with a $2.25 million cap hit instead of $1.25 million, he doesn't look anywhere near as attractive, does he?

While everyone has spent a good portion of the season talking up the impact of this past June's draft, the 2012 draft is also producing impact players just barely over a year after taking place.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was asked if he felt the multitude of teenage players earning spots on NHL rosters in the game today is paving the way for an even younger League down the road.

"I'm not so sure if it's becoming a younger League," Yzerman told NHL.com. "I think it's important for teams to have young players because, quite simply, you need guys playing on entry-level contracts because there's a salary cap. In a player’s second and third contract, they’re already becoming very expensive. So you need young guys to fill out your roster."

Speaking of the 2012 draft...

But anyone who’s watched Yakupov play this season realizes this could be a totally straight assessment. He’s looked lost without the puck and is guilty of trying to do too much individually when he has it. Eakins hoped to get his attention by benching him for a pair of recent games. Instead, a petulant Yakupov said, “I don’t really like playing without the puck, skate all the time and do forecheck and hit somebody every shift — I don’t think it’s my game.”

He needs to change his approach, and if a two-game stay in Le Chateau Bow-Wow doesn’t wake him up, then maybe yanking his dreams of playing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games out from under him will do the trick.

Which leads to...

The Edmonton Oilers have started the Dallas Eakins era with an abysmal 1-4-1 record and it hasn't been difficult to find a scapegoat to bear the blame. The goaltending, specifically Devan Dubnyk, has been atrocious with the Oilers giving up 4.83 goals per game.

Dubnyk has had a rough start with an .829 save percentage in four games this season. Considering he's seen as their goaltender for the long-term, that's troublesome.

That explains why the trade rumors are already picking up around the Oilers just a couple of weeks into the season.

A less amusing but far more interesting story with another former division rival is taking place in Calgary with star rookie Sean Monahan.

"We know how to count to nine, so eventually we'll have a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I don't know [when], but I'm sure we're going to be talking about it."

The teenager has given the Flames' brass plenty to talk about. Monahan leads the Flames with four goals, and his six points are just one behind Jiri Hudler's team lead. His ice time continues to trend upwards, earning more responsibility and trust from Hartley.

Praise has grown substantially, too.

"His offensive upside is there, that's undeniable," Hartley said after watching Monahan score in Calgary's 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 6. "What he offers and what he brings is pretty special for a 19-year-old kid."

Hope everyone has a good day! /waves

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