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Where do the Colorado Avalanche stand through the first month of the season?

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The NHL season is through ti’s first month. How do the Avalanche compare to the rest of the league?

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With a second extended break in less than a week, the Colorado Avalanche have some time to sit back and reflect on what they’ve learned about themselves during the first month of the season.

So why don’t we do the same?

Through 14 games, the Colorado Avalanche are right around where many would have expected them to be. They just didn’t necessarily do it the way we expected. After a three game losing streak, the Avalanche now sit tied for third in the division with 17 points.

Had we told you at the beginning of October that the Avalanche would be here, most fans would have taken it. The situation is just a little harder to swallow given that they were at the top of the Western Conference ten days ago.

The Good

  • Scoring - despite a lack of balanced offense, the Avalanche currently sit 3rd in the NHL with 3.71 goals per game.
  • The Top Line - the reason the team’s scoring has been so high can be boiled down to four words; Nate, Mikko and Landy. They’re the best line in hockey, plain and simple.
NHL scoring leaders
NHL scoring leaders
  • The top pair - A grizzled vet and a young pup; Erik Johnson and Sam Girard have been great this season. They have the best shot-attempt ratio on the team and are doing so while playing against the opponent's top talent most nights. Girard is a star in the making and Erik Johnson is the perfect mentor to bring him along.
  • The goalies - Recency bias is a hell of a thing. Thanks to back-to-back sub par performances, Avs fans might forget how good the team’s goaltending has been. Semyon Varlamov is working on a .936 sv% and prior to the Canadian road trip, the Avs had the best high-danger save percentage in the NHL.
  • The penalty kill - Even with J. T. Compher out of the lineup, the Avalanche have been icing one of the best penalty killing units in the NHL. They currently sit 5th in the league killing off 85% of their penalties

The Bad

  • Shots Against - They’re averaging 33.5 shots against a game - that’s 2nd worst in the Western Conference. That’s three shots a game more than they’re generating. You’re going to lose more than you win if you’re consistently being out shot.
  • Matt Calvert - After coming over from Columbus in the offseason, Calvert was expected to fill in for the departure of Blake Comeau. He’s a guy that was meant to bring energy to every shift and chip in a little bit of secondary offense. So far he’s had a hard time adapting to the new team. With only two assists through his first 14 games, Calvert is definitely going to need to step up as the season goes on.
  • Injuries - Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher were supposed to take the next step this season. They were going to be counted on to provide depth down the middle and give a little relief to Nathan MacKinnon. Unfortunately both are out with head injuries and we really have no timetable for their return - though luckily Jost seems fairly close to a game action. You never want to lose key players to injury, but the fact that the two youngsters are dealing with concussions could be worrisome. As well as the two centers, Sven Andrighetto is back on the IR and it looks a lot like we aren’t going to see him much at all this season.

The Ugly

  • Gabriel Bourque - He’s been bad - like really bad. The team gives up significantly more shot attempts while he is on the ice than any other Avalanche player and he definitely doesn’t contribute anything offensively. Let’s hope he finds his way to the press box on a regular basis once Jost and Compher are healthy.
  • Penalties - The Avalanche average 12 penalty minutes a game. Only the Winnipeg Jets have taken more. That has to improve. The team has been great on the PK, and they’ve had to be.
  • Third period defense - The Avalanche have given up 39 goals against this season, 17 of which have come in the third period. The Avs give up more goals as the games go on - something that is definitely a bad sign.