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The Avs a playoff contender? Couldn't be, could it? Five reasons why they could be.

We're now 17 games into the 2010/11 NHL season, and it's apparent that the Avalanche are exactly what they were last season. A playoff caliber NHL team, who could go further than most expect yet again.

The Avs are, bar-none, the fastest team in the NHL. Simply put, there's no team in the league that gets through the zone with the speed that the Avalanche do.


Kevin Shattenkirk is getting some love.

Kevin Shattenkirk (D) – First round, 14th overall The Avalanche took the Greenwich, Connecticut native with their first pick in the 2007 draft. The 5’11" defenseman attended Boston University after playing two seasons for the U.S. National Team Development Program. In his last year at B.U. Kevin was named team captain and led the Terriers to a national title. After starting this season for Colorado’s AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Kevin was called up due to injury trouble. In his first nine games, he has recorded two goals and three assists. Kevin is starting to settle in to the Avalanche line-up and has developed nicely into an NHL caliber player.


Some power rankings:

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the Avs have taken over the Northwest Division lead with a four-game winning streak that sparked by one of the most explosive offenses in the conference. The Avs are young and very fast, their defensemen have been sparking attacks by moving pucks quickly and jumping into plays, and they are getting the kind of goaltending that gives them chances to win.


John-Michael Liles is also getting some love.

The fact Liles is thriving in the NHL today is testament to his will and drive to be a success -- having to travel miles and miles to Carmel, Ind., to play in an organized hockey program during his youth.


More Liles love

His achievements are much more than "a bit of a run," as Liles has recorded at least one point in 14 of Colorado’s 20 games this season while also posting five multi-point games. He’s also tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for the NHL lead in assists (17) and points (20) by a defenseman.


Have I mentioned that Liles is getting lots of love?

While frequently appearing in rumors at the trade deadline, Liles has played through the speculation and is now an invaluable asset. He won't be going anywhere as he is needed to reign in the young prospects and help them adapt to the post-lockout style of NHL. John-Michael Liles is the future of the Colorado Avalanche blueline.


Greg Mauldin is also getting a bit more love!

"I couldn't have asked for a better goal to suit the kind of style I play," said Mauldin, who had about 45 text messages waiting for him when he returned to the locker room. "To beat the defenseman in a foot race, to beat the goalie high ... the emotions of it were unbelievable." Mauldin's first NHL goal also came against the team that drafted him and gave him his first pro action in 2003, though he said that it didn't necessarily make the goal extra sweet.


More Young Guns love.


Porter, 24, was shipped to Colorado last year as part of the Peter Mueller-Wojtek Wolski deal. He was unable to secure a steady place in the Colorado lineup until early in November, when he burst through with two goals in a 5-0 drubbing of Dallas. Since then, he's scored two game-winning goals (including this fine individual effort to beat San Jose in OT) and the shootout winner over Dallas on Saturday night.

All told, he's scored six points in his last eight games. So, throw Porter into the mix of Colorado's key contributors that are 25 or younger, along with Stewart, Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, Brandon Yip, Daniel Winnick, Ryan O`Reilly, T.J. Galiardi, Kyle Cumiskey and Kevin Shattenkirk. (North Vancouver native David Jones is 26, FYI).


A story about wood sticks, and what would be a story about wood hockey sticks without Paul Stastny

One is soaked with tradition. The other oozes style. One is outdated as a Polaroid camera. The other has the all the substance of Snooki. There is no end to the differences between the traditional wood stick and its modern composite cousin.

"Last season I went through a lot of wood sticks — I think what happened was they were being made at different factories so they were never quite the same although they said they were," said Stastny. "It was still the same company, but in my mind they were completely different sticks than the ones I was using before. The average person may not notice, but when you’ve used the same stick since bantam and you get something a little different you can tell right away. So that also played a factor in me switching over. That, and technology is always getting better so it’s a case of evolving with the times."

A look into where last year's playoff teams are now:




One need look no further than the Avalanche for evidence that this is now in fact, a kid's league. Winger Chris Stewart is quickly turning heads and becoming one of the best power forwards in the game today.

The Avalanche are doing good in the community:

AVALANCHE PLAYERS TO VISIT URBAN PEAK HOMELESS SHELTER TODAY: Colorado Avalanche players Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk will visit Urban Peak Homeless Shelter, 730 21st St., at 2 p.m. today to kick-off Thanksgiving Holiday Week.


The Canadian television series, Battle of the Blades, had their finale last night and Val Bure won! Yay! The thing I love about this show is that the pro skaters and the retired hockey players do not earn any money for this show, instead they are trying to earn money for Canadian charities, and their subsidiaries.

Bure and his partner had two performances of Finale night: A new performance and a past performance revisited. In case you were wondering what the guys can do on Week 8 of the show.  I have to say Bure is the one I was cheering for, although Brisebois also had a fantastic skate.

The Russians came and they conquered. Retired NHL player Valeri Bure and champion figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva, both originally from Moscow, won Battle of the Blades on Monday night. The victory means two charities, Cardiac Kids and Compassion Canada, will split $100,000. The charities sponsored by the other competitors get $25,000.