2016 wasn’t a good year for the Colorado Avalanche. They won 33 out of 80 games, blew a playoff spot at the end of last year, and are currently the worst team in the league. Yeah, pretty bad year. There were some good things in 2016, though. It took me roughly two days to think of those good things, and here’s what I came up with:
The alumni game
Seeing the Avalanche greats don the burgundy and white again was without a doubt the best moment of the year. Did I mention that it’s been a sad year? Watching the greats like Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Adam Foote, etc. skate and play in an outdoor setting was everything I’ve ever loved about hockey. They’re older, and a little slower, but it brought me back to a time when things were much better and hockey was fun to watch. It also helped that they won 5-2.
The stadium experience weekend was a great weekend for the team and the fans, and even though the actual game was a disappointment, the alumni game topped all expectations.
Matt Duchene scores 30
For the first time in his NHL career, Matt Duchene hit the 30-goal mark last season. Granted, it came in a 4-2 loss against Dallas and he was harshly criticized by his head coach following the game for over-celebrating the achievement. But, still—30 GOALS!
Duchene’s name has been in the rumor mill for over year now, but he’s been the most consistent player on the team during that time. He led the team in goals last year and he currently leads them this year. If there’s one guy who hasn’t been disappointing for the Avs, it’s been No. 9.
The 2015-16 trade deadline
While the Avs failed to make the playoffs last year, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying by the front office. Joe Sakic and company went for it at the 2016 trade deadline. While most teams, especially those on the playoff bubble, stood pat; the Avs acquired three solid pieces to help them push for the playoffs.
Ultimately, it didn’t work. Unfortunately, Eric Gelinas played only six games before getting injured. Mikkel Boedker and Shawn Matthias played well, but injuries to Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon lowered the team’s ceiling. To make matters worse, Boedker and Matthias left for nothing in the offseason. BUT WE’RE BEING POSITIVE!
Mikko Rantanen’s development
Mikko Rantanen was disappointing in his first nine games as a member of the Avalanche. He was sent to the AHL, where he stuffed the score sheet, and won co-Rookie-of-the-Year. He returned to the team this year, and has been one of the few bright spots this season. He has 16 points in 31 games, but you can tell that he looks much more confident.
His vision is outstanding, he has good puck skills, and he works hard. He’s still raw defensively, and someone needs to tell him to shoot more, but there are a lot of encouraging signs from the young Finn.
Did you know that the Avs are the second in faceoff win percentage? You wouldn’t think it due to their inability to control the puck for more than five seconds, but they are really good at getting the puck off the draw. That’s something, right? You would hope the team would be good at faceoffs given the fact that they’ve drafted a center in the first round seemingly every year since 2009. AND IT’S PAID OFF!
There was a time when the official Colorado Avalanche Twitter account was really bad. It was just bland and boring, which is the worst thing you can be on twitter. Those days seem to be gone. I wouldn’t say it’s the best sports Twitter account, but there is now personality with the account. I’d like more self-deprecation (look at Portland Trail Blazers account for reference), but understand that the person running the account has to maintain some sort of professionalism. Here’s a dose of that 2016 goodness:
On behalf of Colorado, we don't approve. pic.twitter.com/TlIgh7gc9X— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2016
Happy 2017, everyone. Hopefully, we have a little more to celebrate this year.