Even though the season ended far too soon of what we expected with this young Colorado Avalanche club, we have to say thank you to the members and coaches of the team for bringing the sport of hockey and the excitement that comes along with it back to the Mile High City.
The future is bright for this team, the sky is the limit. What a pleasure it was to watch these young guys mold together throughout the year, competing game in and game out bringing the fans at the Pepsi Center to their feet. We saw the impact of a first-overall pick in Nathan MacKinnon take the league by storm; scoring 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in all 82 regular season games. He is well on his way to earning the Calder Trophy award. Also, the kid would record 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in his first ever playoff series – talk about star power.
We saw goaltender Semyon Varlamov shock the league turning into one of the best goaltenders in the game with help from goalie coach François Allaire. Varlamov would be named a Vezina Trophy award finalist after a stellar regular season. The 26-year-old would lead the league in wins with 41, going 41-14-6 with a goals against average of 2.41. He would lead the league in saves (1,867), shots faced (2,013), while finishing 3rd in the league with a save percentage of .927%.
We saw a young defenseman in Tyson Barrie take the Avalanche community by storm with his late-game heroics to seal the deal for the Avs’. Barrie would record 38 points (13 goals, 25 assists) in 64 regular season games, achieving a plus/minus rating of +17; which is pretty good. The 22-year-old would record four power play goals, including 5 game-winning goals giving the Avs’ the name “The Cardiac Kids”.
We saw a rookie head coach in Patrick Roy take the stage and make an immediate impact in his first game at head coach. He showed the same passion he had as a player towards the end their first regular season game against the Ducks, slamming the boards in frustration with Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. Roy’s impact helped the Avalanche reach the playoffs for the first-time since 2009-10′ where they ended up losing to the San Jose Sharks in the first-round. He will be in the conversation as a finalist for the Jack Adams trophy.
We saw five Avalanche players reach 60+ plus points on the season; including Matt Duchene (23 goals, 47 assists), Gabriel Landeskog (26 goals, 39 assists), Ryan O’Reilly (28 goals, 36 assists), Nathan MacKinnon (24 goals, 39 assists), and Paul Stastny (25 goals, 35 assists). The impressive part about this club is their first and second line. You have Landeskog, Stastny, MacKinnon on one line, followed by O’Reilly, Duchene, Parenteau on the other; that’s hard to stop. The loss of Alex Tanguay was a blow for the Avs, considering they could have had added another veteran presence and playmaker in the playoffs.
Not to mention, we saw a team rally all season long. Whenever they were tied or trailing late into the game, you had a feeling they were going to do something crazy and put a goal on the board. They literally started from the bottom and made it to the top; clinching the Central Division title in a tough division with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues after a disappointing 2012-13′ season.
All in all, what an exciting and eventful season this was for the Avalanche, their fans, and the city of Denver. Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic have put hockey back on the map here in the Mile High City and the future is bright for this young team. I know the first-round loss may sting and for a while, but this team is heading in the right direction and as a fan I’m proud to be apart of it.