The Colorado Avalanche have 16 points early in this NHL season. Only the Nashville Predators (18) and Tampa Bay Lightning (17) have more.
A quick look at the NHL stats leaders paints the picture of how the Avalanche arrived at this lofty spot, second in the West, third overall in the race for the President’s trophy.
In net, Semyon Varlamov currently boasts a 1.62 GAA and a .950 save percentage, both marks among the league-leaders.
So, the Avalanche are getting incredible production from their top line, particularly Rantanen. On a line with Captain Gabriel Landeskog and MVP candidate Nathan Mackinnon it would be easy for the big (6’4″, 215lb), young (22) Finlander to take a backseat on the top line. Mikko has shunned that idea and on a line of stars, his currently shines brightest.
Consider that after that top line the dropoff is considerable to Tyson Barrie‘s 9 points which is still double the league average and triple the average for defensemen. That’s how much the top line means to the current success of the Avs and it’s really fun to watch.
It’s also really scary in a league where nobody makes it through a season without some injury. If one of Colorado’s big four go down with injury that takes significant time will there be anyone to step up and match that production? Possibly on the offensive side, Carl Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot show promise, the injured Tyson Jost has been solid. The Avalanche lost some depth this week with Sven Andrighetto hitting the injured list.
In net, we’ve seen this show before. Varly is as good as it gets when he’s healthy. That’s the key, though, the when he’s healthy part. For all of the deserved accolades, the Russian (from Samara, scary) star has a history of health issues that have kept him from the top netminder discussion.
Colorado has a fantastic backup in Philipp Grubauer, whose stats (2.76, .916) are slightly higher than his career average but still enough that the Avalanche can win with Grubauer in the net.
The best thing about this Avalanche team is that barring significant injury this looks sustainable. The Avs are the best, young team in the league and are pushing to be the best overall team. We won’t truly know until the playoffs but Jared Bednar has a winner on his hands.
Go Avs Go.