The longer this lasts, the more we might have to believe it. As we move into the cold winter months where it gets dark at 5:00 P.M. and hockey and basketball occupy our sports consciousness on weeknights, the results on those games start to glean actual meaning.
So here we are on November 20th, and the Colorado Avalanche are 15-5-0. On Tuesday night they defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. They are the first team in franchise history to win 15 of its first 20 games. They continue to creep into national coverage, making another appearance on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption this afternoon (the question: are they the best team in the NHL?) The longer this lasts, the more we will have to believe the Avalanche have turned things around and belong with the NHL’s elite.
You know how you get in the head of an elite team and beat them? Get to them early. The Avalanche did just that on Tuesday night.
Paul Stastny wired a shot past Crawford about six-and-a-half minutes in, Gabe Landeskog followed that up with a tip-in six minutes later and John Mitchell followed that one up less than a minute after.
Teams like the Hawks are good enough to strike at any time and can erase a one or two goal deficit quickly. But if you get to them early, get into the head of their goaltender and let them know that you’re coming non-stop, there’s only so much they can do. They are human and they bleed.
On Tuesday, the Avalanche got the KO punch within 15 minutes. Don’t let them punch back.
Goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov, who turned in an extraordinary effort (36 saves), had the following to say about the victory:
“It was a lot of fun. We played very well defensively. They have a very good power play, and thank God they had only one chance. … They went hard on us in the second period, and to score that goal at the end of the second period was a huge goal by P.A. Parenteau.”
The Avs are in action next on Thursday night at the Phoenix Coyotes.