The Colorado Avalanche were down 3-1 just over halfway through the second period to the Boston Bruins. They won the game 6-3. That’s five straight goals.
"We won a game yesterday, if we win one today that’s two in a row. If we win one tomorrow that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before. SO LET’S SEE SOME HUSTLE! SO LET’S JACK IT UP A LITTLE! ~Lou Brown, Major League"
Winning streaks make everything feel new, fresh, alive. The Colorado Avalanche won their second straight game on Wednesday night and as Coach Brown reminds us above, that is a streak. We’ve complained enough about the top-heavy scoring and goalie-heavy defense, the Avs have seen an uptick in both offensive output from second-, third- and fourth-lines and a more stout defensive presence.
The top line continues to prove itself the best in hockey and the Avalanche have been very efficient in goal-scoring. They produced six goals on 25 shots in Wednesday’s game.
Defensively, Colorado surrendered only 23 shots, way down from the 32 per game that they average (577 shots allowed in 18 games). It’s a correction that if it lasts will be quite a mid-season turnaround for coach Jared Bednar.
Wednesday’s game was a remarkable comeback and statement from a team that desperately needed to re-establish some credibility. The gutty performance was enough but we’ve picked three stars that stood out (note, this is Avs stars, Jake DeBrusk had two goals for Boston):
Third Star: tie – Ian Cole and Samuel Girard
I know a tie is cheating but in the stellar defensive performance it’s hard to choose between Ian Cole and Sam Girard for who stood out more. Cole seemed like a second goaltender, laying out in front of shot after shot. Girard, for his part never let the Bruins get comfortable in the zone, using his speed and awareness (and four blocked shots of his own) to stymie the Boston offense.
Second Star: Nathan MacKinnon
It seems like Nathan MacKinnon is on the ice a lot. Between the top line, the PP1 line and even some PK duty, Mac logs a lot of ice time. What’s amazing is how efficient he is with that time. He had a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s game and was fantastic on the back-check. We’d like to say he anchors the NHL’s best line but we don’t want to underscore the accomplishments of Gabriel Landeskog or Mikko Rantanen. We don’t need to choose a “leader” for the top line but Mac is still the natural centerpiece (pun!) of his line. Tied with Landy at 12 goals after Wednesday’s gem, the Avs star once again loaded his team up on the back of his line.
First Star: Mikko Rantanen
It’s getting harder and harder to ignore Mikko Rantanen‘s rise this season. Like, he’s the leading scorer in the NHL a quarter of the way into the season hard. Rantanen is such a likeable guy and his on-ice personality is relatively the same. He’s a supremely skilled player and uses that skill and work ethic to outplay opponents. He doesn’t need to be a mean-streak guy, he’s too good for that. A goal and two assists added three points and some separation atop the leaderboard. Rantanen (29) currently leads second place MacKinnon (26) by three points. The combination of Mikko, Mac and Gabriel Landeskog is the key to the Avalanche season. If they continue to perform at the level they are (and stay healthy), there’s a real shot at greatness this season.
The Avalanche welcome the Washington Capitals on Friday night (7PM, Pepsi Center), the Caps are fighting to stay afloat in the East, Philipp Grubauer will be in net for Colorado, giving Semyon Varlamov a rest after an outstanding performance against Edmonton and a fairly easy night against Boston.