Making predictions and noting trends are pretty much useless through the first few weeks of any sports season. We do it anyway because we’re trained to, and honestly people love it, but it’s pretty ineffective.
As such, it’s probably way too early to say the Colorado Avalanche are a good team. For a team that ranked second-last in the Central last year, it’ll take more than a 3-1-0 record to start the season to make that judgment call. Yet, the Avalanche already look better than they were a season ago.
Much of that improvement seems to stem from the system new head coach Jared Bednar has put in place. The Avalanche now seem to play a tempo more suited to their stars, hopefully an atmosphere that will showcase Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon like they should be. Outside of their loss to the Capitals, the Avalanche have scored four or more goals in each of their wins, with Duchene netting a pair in the win on Thursday.
Not only that, their three wins so far this year haven’t been against chums either. All four teams they’ve played so far were playoff teams, and heavy hitters at that. Wins against Dallas, Pittsburgh, and now a shutout over Tampa Bay is quite a feat for a team under new management.
There’s certainly still work to be done for Colorado, if evidenced by their meager shot-on-goal total of 16 against the Lightning. It’s too early to tell if the Avalanche are contenders this year, but this is a promising start for a talented young team.
Bruins 2, Devils 1
Ducks 3, Flyers 2
Penguins 3, Sharks 2
Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Avalanche 4, Lightning 0
Canadiens 5, Coyotes 2
Wild 3, Maple Leafs 2
Kings 4, Stars 3 (OT)
Hurricanes 4, Flames 2
Oilers 3, Blues 1
Canucks 2, Sabres 1
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Three things we learned
1. Nail Yakupov came back to Edmonton and scored, of course
We should not have expected anything else, really.
Even better, the NHL.com box score still has Yakupov’s old Oilers headshot on their website. Sweet justice.
https://t.co/DWv3ICVdZI still has Yakupov in his Oilers sweater, making his goal that much better pic.twitter.com/9Z2aRp6KpA— Mary Clarke (@marycclarke) October 21, 2016
2. Carey Price is alive and all of Montreal has exhaled
After coming down with a case of a “severe flu” last week, the Canadiens netminder FINALLY stepped back onto the ice to play a game of hockey for the first time since Nov. 25, 2015. And hey, he did just fine. Price made 27 saves and helped the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory vs. Arizona. After getting some pitch-perfect goaltending from Al Montoya in relief, the Canadiens have their best player back. Oh, and they’re 3-0-1 to start the year.
3. Jaromir Jagr is now the third player ever in NHL history to hit 750 goals
The 44-year-old keeps on chugging. Jagr’s first of the season was also his 750th career goal, as he now trails Gordie Howe by 52 goals for the second-most all time.
Jagr will more than likely not hit that magic number, but it’s still incredible to see him score.
Daniel Winnik LOST PART OF HIS EAR after getting hit in the head with a puck, and honestly I’m not sure how he came back from it to finish out the game for Washington.
Stat of the Night
Age and career GP at time of 750th NHL goal (via @EliasSports)— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 21, 2016
Gretzky – age 31; 1,001 GP
Howe – age 41; 1,598 GP
Jagr – age 44; 1,633 GP pic.twitter.com/eeA6kbJpwG