The past 12 months have been pretty good to Colorado Avalanche faithful and this Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to reflect on what those things are Avalanche fans should be thankful for.
1. Playoff positioning
The best part of the current season is that the Avalanche hold on to a playoff spot as they head into the quarter mark of the season and the Thanksgiving holiday. With 26 points Colorado is tied with Winnipeg for the third central division playoff spot with one more game played.
2. Mikko Rantanen and the Top Line
Perhaps the most exciting part of the 2018-19 season thus far is watching Mikko Rantanen take the next step and blossom into a superstar. He continues to hold the NHL lead in scoring with 34 points and is also the leader of even strength points at 24. Nathan MacKinnon is tied with Connor McDavid for second in league scoring with 31 points. Gabriel Landeskog is tenth in the league with 13 goals as well along with 23 points. All three comprise a very formidable gold chain.
3. Third jerseys are back
The only thing worth salvaging from the disastrous 2016-17 campaign were the beautiful alternate jersey threads which give a nod to the Colorado Rockies history and combine with the hot local trend of Colorado state flag pride. The Avalanche also made a great decision to wear these jerseys at home against every division opponent this season.
4. Ottawa’s first round pick
Even more than a year after the Matt Duchene trade was completed the Avalanche still have not received the entire return of their heist. A first and third round pick are still due from the Ottawa Senators and Avalanche fans have taken up a secondary interest in rooting for Ottawa’s demise. Although the Senators are enjoying a respectable season this far on the back of their talented youth, the pick should still yield the Avalanche a top ten selection in the upcoming draft.
5. Sam Girard
If the Avalanche are still enjoying the fruits of the Matt Duchene trade then Sam Girard is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Girard is trusted with a large role on defense and is second only to Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon with even strength time on ice and plays over an average of 20 minutes per game. Girard has already scored a goal and nine assists as well and is on pace to produce more offense this season as well.
6. Cale Makar
What’s better than one young dynamic defenseman? Two of them. Colorado’s fourth overall pick from the 2017 draft is taking the NCAA by storm with 15 points in 11 games as UMass currently is the fourth ranked team in the nation with a 10-1 record. The wait should not be much longer to see this exceptional talent in an Avalanche sweater and could happen as soon as this spring.
7. Secondary scoring
As much as been made of what a drop off there is from the top line to the rest of the team, the Avalanche are getting contributions up and down their lineup. Tyson Barrie with 19 points, Alexander Kerfoot with 17 and Carl Soderberg with 15 are each on pace for career highs. Each defenseman on the roster including Mark Barberio has scored a goal plus rookies Vladislav Kamenev and Sheldon Dries each have had multi-point nights.
8. The AHL is in Colorado
The Colorado Eagles’ inaugural season in the AHL has had its ups and downs as they currently hold a 7-7-3 record but there’s no denying how exciting it is to finally have the minor league affiliate less than an hour away from the Pepsi Center. It should be a long-lasting partnership which will pay development dividends in the future.
9. Jared Bednar
The right coach came along at the right time to guide this young team from the depths of despair back on track on the road to success. While he may be tougher on some, see Nikita Zadorov, he had done an exceptional job with the Avalanche’s young talent such as Mikko Rantanen, Sam Girard and Alexander Kerfoot. In addition, Bednar’s interest and influence in the development of the organization top to bottom should get recognition. His smart and even-keeled approach is also what this group needs.
10. Goofy players to root for
This group of Avalanche players are truly a fun bunch to watch and root for on a daily basis which will make their eventual success so much sweeter to experience as a fan. Plus who doesn’t love a scooter gang?