It has been a long off-season, but we are finally here, it’s opening night against a familiar foe in the Calgary Flames. Last we saw the Flames was in Calgary, after a 5-1 beat down that saw the Avalanche advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs. But a new year comes a new team and renewed expectations. For the Avalanche, getting off to a good start is a must. They have a four game home stand to start the season, with a five day gap in between games two and three.
Before going out on the road for six hard games, it is a must for this young squad to start strong. With the offseason moves, which saw them add Nazem Kadri from Toronto, Andre Burakovsky from Washington, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Joonas Donskoi in free agency, the Avalanche went out and addressed two areas of weakness from the 2018-19 team: a complementary 2nd line, which has some grit and goal scoring promise to it, and a fourth line center which last season, once Kamenev went down, was a rotating cast of players.
Making the team right out of training camp is Conor Timmins. One of the more highly touted prospects in the Avalanche system will be anchoring the 3rd pair to start the season. According to Joe Sakic and Jared Bednar, he earned that spot, beating out a handful of experienced NHL veterans in the process. After missing close to 18 months of hockey, it’s going to be quite the special moment for him, his family and everyone who has been with him on this journey back to health! Also making the team was late signing Val Nichushkin. The leash should be short. But if he can prove people wrong, he could be a sneaky pick up. He has the defensive awareness, now can he use that big frame and put up some goals? A goal perhaps? We are about to find out.
The team has a lot of everything in the line up. Superstars, grit, youth, players looking to prove something, a super young defense and prospects not to far behind (Bowers anyone) It’s built for today’s NHL. But the season starts today. Sakic said in his presser yesterday, it wont be easy. And it wont be. The season is long, hard and teams are a lot closer in talent every year. But as a lot of people in the hockey world are predicting, the Avalanche are here, they are here to stay and everyone should be on notice.
The Flames are 1-8-1 in the last 10 season openers and have not played well, a trend I see continuing. I see the Avalanche coming out fast and strong, and they will put Rittich under siege. LETS GO!
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan Mackinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Valeri Nichushkin
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Conor Timmins
Scratches: Vladislav Kamenev, Colin Wilson
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Sam Bennett
Andrew Mangiapane - Mark Jankowski - Austin Czarnik
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson