I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Avs, and it’s nothing against any of their current players. Somehow, my kid brother, raised in the same Toronto-area household as I was, became a Habs fan in his youth, more specifically, a Patrick Roy fan. When Roy jumped ship and headed for Denver, so did my brother’s bandwagon-ish rooting habits. I was traumatized as a young Leaf fan, who had just survived the Gretzky high stick no-call, as I watched my little brother get to cheer the Avalanche to not one but two Cup championships and a period of league dominance with what I can now look back on as one of the most talented rosters in recent memory (c’mon – Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay, Adam Deadmarsh, Adam Foote, the list goes on – those teams were stacked – thanks Eric Lindros).
However, it’s been a few years since the Avs were a dominant Cup contender, and they’ve now entered that dreaded re-building phase. They’ve got some great tools to work with in Paul Stastny and 2011 first round draft pick Gabriel Landeskog, but they will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs this season in a tough Western Conference. The goaltending duo of Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere is a solid one, when both keepers are healthy – something that’s easier said than done. The defense will be a bit suspect, but late-season addition Erik Johnson should have a chip on his shoulder after being shown the door by the Blues.
Stephen Crociata disagrees with me on the Avs’ playoff chances, and gives his reasons why:
1) If half of the Avalanche acquisitions pan out, at least one of them being one of the goalies, the Avalanche may be heading for another surprisingly good season. To start the goalies are a definite upgrade for the Avalanche but will need to show up consistently. The new and improved blueline gives the Avalanche a more western conference look than they have ever had. The West is known for their physical play while the East is known for finesse and as much as JML will be missed the changes make sense.
2) The Avs put together three consistent lines. Here are the Avalanche forwards: Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, Peter Mueller, Chuck Kobasew, Ryan O’Reilly, Joakim Lindstrom, TJ Galiardi, Jay McClement, Daniel Winnik, Brandon Yip, Kevin Porter, and Cody McCleod. There are 15 forwards and that does not include some of the young players like Brad Malone and Joey Hishon who may make the team. I know I’m biased but there will be a good deal of talent on the Avs top three lines.
Be sure to catch the rest of his outlook for the 2011-12 season in Colorado over at Mile High Sticking.