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Game 49 Preview: Oilers at Avalanche

Matchoilers_medium Vs_medium Matchavalanche_medium
Edmonton Oilers
7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
Colorado Avalanche
16-26-5 January 18th, 2010
37 pts Pepsi Center
60 pts
15th in West
Denver, CO
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.


-9 Colorado Avalanche
-11 New York Islanders
-18 Phoenix Coyotes
-20 Tampa Bay Lightning
-22 Los Angeles Kings
-27 Atlanta Thrashers
-27 Buffalo Sabres
-27 Nashville Predators
-31 Ottawa Senators
-32 Chicago Blackhawks
-32 Dallas Stars
-38 Minnesota Wild
-38 Pittsburgh Penguins
-40 Calgary Flames
-40 Toronto Maple Leafs
-41 New Jersey Devils
-42 Anaheim Ducks
-42 Vancouver Canucks
-43 Montréal Canadiens
-43 St Louis Blues
-44 New York Rangers
-44 Washington Capitals
-45 Florida Panthers
-47 Columbus Blue Jackets
-47 San Jose Sharks
-48 Edmonton Oilers
-50 Philadelphia Flyers
-56 Detroit Red Wings
-62 Boston Bruins
-62 Carolina Hurricanes


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. :)

Oilers vs Avalanche coverage

The Copper & Blue


Edmonton Colorado
29th 37 Points  9th 60
17th 2.64 GF/G  9th 2.83
28th 3.3 GA/G  12th 2.71
10th 19.3 PP%  21st 17.3
29th 75.8 PK%  18th 81
26th 28.6 S/G 30th 26.3
23rd 31.7 SA/G 27th 32.5
29th 47 FO%  30th 46.9
20th 13.5 PIM/G  17th 13.3
Penner 41 pts Top Scorer Stastny 44 pts