Know Your Foe: Colorado
Wild.com Managing Editor Mike Doyle previews the Wild's new Central Division rival
The Minnesota Wild is moving into the Western Conference's Central Division. The club will realign with six other clubs: Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.
It's important to know your enemies, so leading up to the 2013-14 regular season Wild.com Managing Editor Mike Doyle will take a look the Wild’s new divisional rivals. Today he gets to know a familiar foe, the Colorado Avalanche moving to the Central Division along with the Wild.
2012-13 Season Summary
Record: 15-27-6, 39 pts.
Finished: 5th in Northwest, 15th in Western Conference
Playoffs: Did Not Qualify
2012-13 Wild Record vs. Colorado: 4-0-1
All-time Wild Record vs. Colorado: 36-29-9
Last Meeting: 3-1 Wild win at Pepsi Center (4/27/13)
2012-13 Team Leaders
Goals: PA Parenteau (18)
Assists: Matt Duchene (26)
Points: PA Parenteau & Matt Duchene (43)
Wins: Semyon Varlamov (11)
Shutouts: Semyon Varlamov (3)
GAA: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2.84
SV%: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (.908)
It was a (bad sports writing pun alert) rocky 2012-13 season for the Colorado Avalanche. After finishing (another one coming up) at the bottom of the mountain in the Western Conference, Joe Sacco was relieved of head coaching duties. The club hired former Avs great Patrick Roy as head coach and vice president of hockey operations. During his playing days in Colorado, Roy helped lead the Avs to two Stanley Cups. The Avs hopes the Hall of Famer can bring that winning pedigree to the bench and lead the organization (last one, promise) back to the NHL’s summit.
Colorado is clearly in a rebuilding phase, having picked in the top five of the NHL Entry Draft in each of the past four years and loading up on top-end talent. In 2011, the Avalanche used the No. 2 overall pick on Gabriel Landeskog, who went on to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Heading into his second season, on Sept. 4, 2012, the Avs made the Swede the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years, 286 days old. The club solidified his standing with the team by signing him to a seven-year extention in August. Another up-and-coming offensive threat is center Matt Duchene, who was the team’s co-leader (along with PA Parenteau) in scoring with 43 points. Duchene is a YouTube highlight package waiting to happen, so much so, apparently refs don’t realize it when he’s offside by several yards.
This summer, the Avs bolstered its young offensive talent by using the first-overall pick in a loaded draft on Nathan MacKinnon. Skating for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the center posted 32 goals and 75 points in 44 regular-season games. He then added 11 goals and 22 assists in 17 playoff games to help Halifax win the QMJHL championship. In the Memorial Cup, Canada’s Junior A national championship, MacKinnon capped his season with seven goals and six assists in four games, including a hat trick and two assists in the championship game. His tournament-best 13 points earned the Stafford Smythe Trophy as most valuable player. Coach Roy (sounds a little weird, eh Wild fans?) has said that he has McKinnon penciled in as the team’s third-line center.
While the offensive upside in Colorado seems to be sky high, the team struggled to keep the puck out of the net last season. The Avalanche was one of five teams to have a goals-against average higher than 3.00 last season. The team also was the sixth-worst in the NHL in shots allowed at 31.4 per game. The defensive struggles were only buoyed by the fact that goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere combined for a .904 save percentage. While, on paper, it looks like the Avs will be able to score, it will have to keep pucks out of the net.
783 — Number of shots blocked last season, the fourth highest in the league.
3.12 — Goals allowed per game, which was the fourth worst mark overall — only better than Calgary (3.27), Caroline (3.31) and Florida (3.54).