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Creating success at the right time


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The Colorado Avalanche get their first three game win streak of the season. After beating the Buffalo Sabers 5-1, Colorado squeaked in a 9 round shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings before man handling the St. Louis Blues 5-0.

Just three games ago, Colorado was kicking rocks like they had done all season. No one could buy a point, including last season’s Calder winner, Nathan MacKinnon. The story for the Avalanche in that time was their rookie goalie, a kid from New Brunswick, Canada selected 49th overall in the 2nd round of 2010. Calvin Pickard stole the starting job from Avalanche backup Reto Berra while Semyon Varlamov was injured. Calvin gave his team every chance to win but the team could not score goals and were shut out in two of four games prior to the three game win streak.


What has been clicking in the last three games for Colorado? Well for starters, Reto Berra has not been in net, Berra has seemingly lost all confidence he had prior to his injury in Ottawa and looks like he did in Calgary. The one time Reto was trusted with play he allowed a goal on seven shots, not something you want your backup to do in any game he is asked to chance the pace in.

The second major part of Colorado’s success has been the return from injury for key players. John Mitchell returned from a knee injury, he has 1 goal and 2 assists with a +3 in three games since returning. Marc-Andre Cliché also returned from injury, he has played in the last four games, though he has no points and is a 0+/- in those games, his penalty killing effort has been missed.

The biggest key in my eyes though has been the return of Brad Staurt, which is shocking to say the least. Brad Stuard missed 14 games with a hamstring injury and was worthless in the first 16 games for Colorado. Since his return in the last four games, Staurt seems to have remembered how to play hockey in the NHL. In his first 16 games, Stuart was a -4 he had no points and was eating up ice time, you could see him reaching for the puck but hardly ever moving to it and making a play. Since his return though, Brad is a plus-2 and has two assists, both coming against the St. Louis Blues.


Calvin Pickard grabbed the first two wins of this three game winning streak against the Buffalo Sabers and Detroit Red Wings. Semyon Varlamov would return after missing another six games with a groin injury and would do all except disappoint. Varly would stop 26 shots on the game for his 15th career shutout and his second of the season, 12 of those 26 shots would come in the final period. Calvin Pickard will get the call in net against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 27th.


Scoring heating up in Colorado has been a key in two of the three wins. While goaltending continues to be huge, the Avalanche have only allowed two goals in the past three games while they have scored 11. Contribution has gone through the lineup, Max Talbot, Cody McLeod, Brad Staurt, and then of course key guys like Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla (who has four points and the shootout winner) and Erik Johnson the key as he has 5 goals in 5 games and four points in the last three.


What Colorado could use at this point is more production from their three key forwards. Nathan MacKinnon has two points in the last three games while Matt Duchene has one. The biggest contributor of these three of late has been the saddest offensive play of the season. Ryan O’Reilly, we all know how big of a fit he was throwing this past off-season about money, he wanted five years at a rate of $6.5 million plus… Colorado said, no we would rather not pay you that much for that long. Now we can all see why Colorado was right, until the last three games, O’Reilly was a -12 and had 5 goals and 11 assists. He has three points the last three games and is a plus-1, if he can keep up the production maybe trade rumors will die off.


So there it is, a healthy lineup and solid goaltending seems to be playing favors for the Avalanche in the last three games. Colorado will enter Christmas break (or the NHL holiday break) having gone 4-0-2 in their last six games and have reached .500. The will be looking to jump a game over against a tough contender in the Chicago Blackhawks. Varlamov will look to stay healthy as he should get the night off in the game against the Hawks, he will have at least six days off to recover a shutout performance and will likely play against the Blues in St. Louis on December 29th.


The Avalanche will be looking for both Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene to get hot while they hope the defense continues to roll. Erik Johnson seems to have found his last season form and is currently on pace for a 20 goal season.


***Note: Reto Berra was a healthy scratch while Calvin Pickard played backup to Varlamov against the Blues. Colorado will need to make a choice between the two goaltenders eventually, but Patrick Roy is pretty certain he will not be sending Pickard down any time soon. A trade could be in the works involving Reto Berra, or worst case Calvin Pickard (for a pretty hefty price I am sure.)


Watch Coach Roy’s post-game comments from the last four games here



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