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Game 17 Preview: Colorado Avalanche @ New York Islanders

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The Avs (4-7-5) hope to end their road woes in their final visit to Long Island against the Islanders (9-5-0) on Tuesday November 11th, 2014.

Elsa

There's been a lot of depressing talk surrounding the Avalanche lately. Yes, the excuse of "it's early" has long past, but to say that a playoff spot is out of the question or even to mention how close the Avs are to winning the Conner McDavid sweepstakes is a little ridiculous. The season hasn't started out well and four wins is a lot fewer than any Avs fan would have wanted 16 games into the season, but the Avs are not going to be a bottom feeder team this year. If all the Avs' loses looked like the first two games, I might be more concerned, but I think a lot of Avs fans are being near-sighted and comparing this team far too much to the team last year and the few years previous. If you look further back in the Avs' record books, you'll see that bad starts don't necessarily spell doom. Here are a few years that the Avs went out to similar starts after 16 games:

1998-1999:   6-8-2 14 points

1999-2000:   7-7-2   17 points

2001-2002:   7-8-1   15 points

2002-2003:   5-7-4   17 points

In all four of those years, the Avs made the playoffs. In fact, in the first three of those years the Avs went to the conference finals and lost in seven games. Now, I know this is a very different Avalanche team than those years, but the fact remains that a bad start is no reason to crap on the whole year. The Avs are 4-7-5 with 13 points. That's not good, but it's not a blueprint to the rest of the year. There's still life in this team, and the Avs showed it last game against Philly.

The Avs were down 4-0 after two periods. Anyone who watched an Avs game two years ago could tell you there was a big difference between that team and the Avs team that played Saturday. The Avs didn't give up Saturday, even when down by four goals. The Avs tilted the ice and almost came out of Saturday's game with at least a point. If this team can do that in a hostel place like Philly and against a team that had won four in a row, I believe a bad start like this can eventually turn into a playoff berth. So, fellow Avs fans, I say calm yourself and be patient.

If the Avs want to start really winning again, they have to play like they did last time they met the Islanders; a game in which they won 5-0 at home. The Avs played well against the Islanders last game, playing their best defensive game. A poor game from the Isles back-up goalie, Chad Johnson definitely helped the Avs look good at the Pepsi Center though. Expect Jaroslav Halak to get the start in net Tuesday though as the Avs visit Nassau Coliseum for the last time before the Isles move to Brooklyn next year. Halak is fresh off a shutout against the Coyotes (From somewhere in the state of Arizona). Halak only had to face 19 shots to get his first shutout of the year as the Isles continue to impress in the second spot of the Metropolitan Division.

LINES:

O'Reilly-Duchene-McGinn

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Iginla

Tanguay-Mitchell-Everberg

McLeod-Cliche-Talbot

Hejda-Johnson

Guenin-Barrie

Holden-Redmond

Varlamov

Berra

NOTES:

- Talbot scored his first goal of the season last game to spark a near comeback against his old team. After so many poor breakaway chances and missed opportunities offensively for Talbot, it was nice to see him do something offensively.

- The Avs' penalty kill streak was ended Thursday night against the Maple Leafs, but Semyon Varlamov's is still alive. He has yet to give up a power play goal this year.

- With MacKinnon's "boarding" penalty against Luke Schenn Saturday, the Avs lead the league in boarding infractions.

- Despite skepticism that there may be supplementary discipline for MacKinnon's push in the back against Luke Schenn, there has been no mandate brought down upon the young phenom. MacKinnon will continue to have no suspensions against his permanent record. Even though Roy blew up initially at the call, I think the referees handled this one real well. Five minutes was all the more that MacKinnon's actions called for.

Questions:

Q: Will O'Reilly catch a break?

A: It's been a rough year for the Avs' most reliable two-way forward. The poke-checks have been there, but the sound defensive game and offense have not. With O'Reilly playing with Duchene again, I think it's only a matter of time before Ryan finds the back of the net again.

Q: Can the Avs be more discipline?

A: The Avs are second in the NHL with minor penalties behind only the Winnipeg Jets. There's playing aggressive and then there's just taking too many penalties. Despite the fact that the Avs have one of the best penalty kills in the league, they can't allow themselves to be on the PK as often as they have. Penalties like MacKinnon's last game and Landeskog's against the Ducks were both penalties that didn't need to be taken and ultimately lost the Avs those games.

Q: Can the Avs end their road woes?

A: A major reason for the Avs' success last year was the fact that they had the best road record in the NHL. So far this year they are just 1-4-3 away from Pepsi Center, with that one win coming on a last second goal by Danny Briere. The Avs need to rekindle that road magic from a year ago and turn things around before this trip puts them in a major hole at the quarter point of the year.

GAME INFO:

Game Time: 5pm, MT

TV: ALT, TVA.

And Congrats to Jaromir Jagr on tying Mike Gartner for sixth all-time in goals: