First place Avs – really – visit Habs

robyrne

They finished 29th in the NHL last season thanks to a second half collapse, but today they’re tied for first in the Western Conference with the Red Wings.

The Colorado Avalanche skate into the Bell Centre Saturday to play their fourth game in six days on a five-game road trip. After losing their home opener to the Red Wings, they’ve rattled off road victories in Boston, Columbus and Ottawa. If they beat the Canadiens on Saturday to go 4-0 on the road, it will be the first time they’ve started a season in that fashion that since Oct. 1985, when the Nordiques won their first four road games of the season.

The Avs are young, they are fast up front, they like their big rebuilt defence corps and they believe with ex-Capital Semyon Varlamov they once again have top-flight goaltending.

The Avs have done well on this early season eastern swing in each of the last two seasons. Two years ago, they went 4-1-2 on an October trip that included a 3-2 win in Montreal, their last visit here. “Two years ago, we were the best team in the NHL after that trip,” Avs defenseman Kyle Quincey said last Sunday before the team left Denver. “The guys that were here, we’re looking forward to repeating that. We have a lot of good memories of that, and we’re looking forward to bonding with the new guys and becoming a family — because that’s how you win.” Seems to be working.

Last year, they went 3-2 on the eastern trip, but didn’t come to Montreal. They faced the Habs in Denver, beating them 3-2 in December.

The Avs got porous goaltending went they went in free fall last season, finishing the season allowing 3.5 goals against a game, worst in the NHL They gave up on Craig Anderson, dealing him to the Sens before the trade deadline (and they victimized Anderson on Thursday for seven goals on 39 shots). With Varlamov and J.S. Gigeure (who faced Ottawa) this season, they have allowed only six goals in four games. Varlamov is expected to play on Saturday. He has a .960 save percentage, second only to Dallas’s Kari Lehtonen’s .933 among goalies who have played three or more games, and a 1.30 GAA, tied with Lehtonen for the league lead in that category. He’s is 3-0-1 with a 1.45 GAA versus Montreal in his career.

Some of the Avs’ decline in goals against this season is attributed to a defence corps that is bigger than the small, mobile crew the Avs had manning the blue line in the past. Jan Hejda, Shane O’Brien, Erik Johnson and Ryan O’Byrne were playing elsewhere on opening night a year ago — O’Byrne with the Habs. They average 6-foot-4, 233 pounds. Quincey at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds and Ryan Wilson at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds round out the top six. They also have ex-Bruin Matt Hunwick on their roster. He’s the small guy, listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. They’ll provide a challenge for the Habs forwards going to the net.

“We have some size, some grit and some sandpaper back there right now, and it’s going to be a lot tougher to play against us,” said O’Byrne.

Up front, free agent signee Joakim Lindstrom has replaced Peter Meuller on the first line with Matt Duchene and Milan Heduk. Meuller seemed fine in training camp and in the first couple of games, but he’s apparently had a recurrence of the concussion symptoms that kept him out of the lineup all of last season. Lindstrom scored twice against Ottawa.

The line of rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog, centre Ryan O’Reilly and right wing Daniel Winnik combined for two goals and four assists against the Sens and has been a surprise factor for the Avs in the early going. Landeskog, the second overall pick in June, has goals in two consecutive games and leads the club with 16 shots on goal. The three also see duty on the penalty kill and Winnik has a shorthanded goal.

Johnson, the first overall pick in 2006 who came from St. Louis via trade last February, quarterbacks the power play. Colorado started the season 0-for-11 on power plays in the first three games, but the Avalanche went 4-for-6 against Ottawa. They killed three of four Ottawa power plays and have allowed only one power play goal in 13 penalties so far, 92.9 percent, sixth best in the league.

Here’s how they will probably line up on Saturday against the Habs:

Joakim Lindstrom-Matt Duchene-Milan Hejduk
David Jones-Paul Stastny-Chuck Kobasew
Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod-Jay McClement-TJ Galiardi

Jan Hejda-Erik Johnson
Shane O’Brien-Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson-Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

49 Comments

  1. Feraco says:

    Tonight we use are speed and skill to skate through the Avs defence. Look for Gionta to pop a couple hammer shots in.

    Price will be strong and PK is gonna throw some hits.

    Look for Weber to step up as well. He has a spot and he is going to keep it.

    Big game for Kostitsyn and Pacs, 2 goals each.

    Molson Ex mon ami

  2. --Habs-- says:

    And who has Colorado played to deserve first place! Nobody! :)
    The only real team they’ve faced so far is Detroit and that produced what! A loss!!!!! Ah so we’re not playing the undefeated 81 – 1 Avs like this article describes 4 games into a season for nothing else to write about as if they’re a force. Varlamov? Really? Isn’t the the guy that Washington gave up on because as hot as he can be as cold as he can be! And Jiggy who hasn’t been a starter since his SC tenure with the Ducks and hasn’t reproduced since! Hmm!

  3. HabinBurlington says:

    Are these the sandals Brother Andrei wears? Interesting that he is now hawking his own line of metrosexual footwear on this website.

  4. HabinBurlington says:

    So as a fan living in Southern Ontario, I have reallyonly 2 choices watch the games or not watch. I will choose to watch, and because I want to enjoy the games and given we have seen only 3 meaningful games I will continue to try look at the positives despite the fact we have seen more frustration than positive. If after 10 games this team is still playing woeful hockey and there is no positive news on the Markov front then I will slowly inch my vehicle closer to Niagara Escarpment and consider options. For now, Go Habs Go!

    When Colorado is in 1st place after 10 games I will then believe they are for real. The Leafs started last season 4 and 0 and I don’t recall them winning their division.

  5. twocents says:

    Reality Check!

    It’s three games into the season.

    You can’t tell anything about how this season will unfold yet.

    In fact, to suggest you can indicates you haven’t been paying attention over the years. Team who have eventually placed last place have started 3-0, while Stanley Cup winners have started 0-3. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING can be PREDICTED from these first few games, or any three game stretch for that matter, NOTHING.

    It’s a long season folks, take a chill pill and try to enjoy it.

    • HabFab says:

      How are things going Eric?

      • twocents says:

        Hey Frank,
        Better when there’s something more interesting to read than, “this sucks, that sucks, everything every other team has is better than what we have, which SUCKS.”

        Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often around here anymore.

        I hope things are good on the right coast.

        • HabFab says:

          East coast today and west coast next week bro.
          No luck with locating Bryan and now Steve has stopped posting.
          The posting gets nuts here during the season, I don’t post or read many posts during the season on account of.
          Ian said you are back in school, upgrade or career change? I call them “lifes” and I’m in my third, however also 55.

  6. Bill says:

    Hans should have beaten Calgary and the Leafs, but didn’t. Maybe tonight they win one they shouldn’t?

    Maybe tonight, Gomez shakes it off and plays like a lion … Or just effectively.

    Maybe tonight, the defense pulls it together.

    Maybe tonight, JM puts put his best top six and let’s a line stay together more than three shifts.

    And maybe tonight the beer fairy brings me endless refills served by a bikini model on roller skates. Since I’m dreaming.

  7. slychard says:

    Woke up with a bad feeling about this season… The wheels falling off? That’s too simple. Try a blow-out, which leads to veering off a cliff. It’s gonna be a long one. Hope I’m wrong.

  8. LTHF says:

    I know its only 3 games and things dont look good and theres a couple of reasons. Bob gainey’s worse moves was signing Martin and Gill. Anyone having allusions that this team is going any where with those two, then they are living in a dream world. As I said several times last season, Gill is pathetic as a defenceman, too slow, no shot and cant clear the puck out of his own zone, consequently his poor moves make Subban look bad in trying to cover up for him. Subban cant rush the puck like he is cabable of doing, if he does then Gill is left back alone and thats deadly. When the team let a coach like Boucher get away, its just another indication of poor management. which now goes back 20 years plus. As a Habs fan , guess its anothe year of suffering through it. Guess my problem is that I wasnt use to it for the first 40 years as a Hab fan, the last 20, just brutal.

    • 1010 says:

      The signing of Gomez was the single most harmful move that Mr. Gainey made in my opinion. I rarely criticized the man but the day the news of this signing broke I seriously questioned his sanity. Defenders of this move at the time said that he had to do it to attract other players and blah,blah, blah but the truth is the effects of this signing are having long term effects and will continue to do so.

      GO HABS…

      • Bill J says:

        You an jlgib really need to research how Gomez came to Montreal.

        The contract Gomez has ? Is the same contract that Sather signed him to.

        At least provide an informed opinion when you’re going to slam BG or apologists.


        If you want to add an avatar here, read this and follow the steps

        Go Habs Go!

        • 1010 says:

          You are right that I originally and mistakenly said that Gainey signed him. I know he as involved in a trade involving McDonagh. I said that Sather unloaded a terrible contract in my second comment. I didn’t say that Gainey signed him to a new one .
          I’m well aware that he was already signed to a 6 or 7 year contract when Gainey traded for him.

          GO HABS…

  9. nickster13 says:

    Im a glass half full kinda guy. So ill put out my thoughts.
    Either we start playing like we can and are supposed to, namely our best players play like our best players and our rookies step up, then we will win some games and maybe go very deep into the playoffs.
    Or
    The wheels start to fall off, in which case the rookies get more ice time, some overpayed veterans get shipped out, and JM and/or PG are fired and we can hopefully bring in some young coaching talent.
    As a wise Qui-gon jin once said, “either way, you win.”

  10. The Dude says:

    Who cares?I’m so tired of having been let down by the Habs Owners,Managment and so called athletes on this once glorious and premier world class organization who is now the laughing stock of pro hockey, that I honestly don’t give a pinch!The truth is the Habs only have three good players and the rest are wannabee’s or should retire and are lead by a neurotic Coach who is well passed his due date and a manager that should be in woman’s Hockey.Well at least the team is a true Molsen product and sucks as bad as their garbage beer!!!

    • Habitant in Surrey says:

      …c’mon Stephen …they are still Our Habs
      …You know You will change Your tune once They are on a roll
      …too soon to talk like that now
      …sit back and medicate Dude
      …inhale
      :)

      Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
      http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

    • Kristopher7 says:

      My gosh, the comment section has gone really, really downhill over the last few years.

      Just the same people spamming filth 24/7, I miss a lot of the folks who don’t comment anymore, or just don’t bother reading the comment section or coming to the site anymore.

      Sigh. Enjoy the game, enjoy watching the team. The extreme bashing is just disgusting to read. I’ll probably stick to just reading what the staff have to write, and the comment section can burn in hell.

  11. mjames says:

    It seems everything is great with the Avs. We will see tonight. Good for them. I look at our team and I have to question some of FA signings and trades we have made led by the infamous Gomez trade. That one is killing us right now. I am hoping Cole, Gionta, AK, Spacek, Gill and Pleks pick it up. I will say am glad that our younger Dmen are getting a chance to play and gain experience. That could we help us in the longer run. Of course it would be nice to have Mcdoungh and O’Bryne back there but that is a rant for another day.

    You could say we are a little like the Rangers. We never rebuild but we do retool. You could also conclude that neither team really ever gets the recipe right. I will wait a few more games but this could be a very long season. This could be the year where all the wheels come off. The frustrating thing is we do not have the financial flexibility to fix it.

    Thank you Mr. Gainey and Gauthier.

    mjames

  12. Take you to him, I will……but first, let’s eat.

    Avs, bah humbug

    They’re the rejects of Nordiques. I hate them just as much as the Leafs…….ah who am I kidding? There’s nothing to hate on except their fans only support them when they win.

    Over confidence will beat the them. Just like the Habs when Calgary came in with a 0-3 start.

    Shane Oliver
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    hockey@sholi2000.com
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  13. Everlasting1 says:

    No mention of The Avs giving up dman Kevin Shattenkirk and F Chris Stewart to the Blues on the Eric Johnson trade ? This could prove to be the worse deal made by Avs management to date.

    ——————————————————————-
    When the Hebrew scouts investigate the Promised Land of Canaan and return to discourage the other Hebrews from entering it..”We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” [Numbers 13:33]

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  14. SlovakHab says:

    I see a young an up-and coming Colorado team we wish we had. Won a couple of cups last decade, then were pretty bad for a couple of years and retooled to dominate soon in the future. It’s nice to have Price, Subban and Pacioretty, but I would trade these guys for Varlamov, Duchene, Erik Johnson, Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny and Garbriel Landeskog in a nanosecond!

  15. DLN-CH4Life says:

    When did Lappiere and Metropolite go!?
    Honestly. If we had a

    Cole-Plec-cam
    Gio-Gom-Patch
    Ak46-Eller-S.K74
    Moen-Metro-White (lappiere, Darche, DD)

    Markov-Suban
    Gill-Gorges
    Diaz-Emelin (webber,Spacek Campoli)

    Carbo, or Muller….At This Point Laviolette or St Patrick the great wouldn’t look too bad behind the bench. I’d love Carbo back but forget it guys.

    -DLN

  16. 1010 says:

    The sad thing is the year before I was teasing a Ranger fan about what an epic mistake Sather had made in signing this guy to this kind of a contract.
    Well, Sather managed to unload one of the worst contracts in the league and my Ranger friend never let me forget it.

    GO HABS…

  17. 1010 says:

    I opined that the guy should have been resigned during the summer. Cheap, good size, could easily eat 12-15 minutes a game,and most important: he stood up for his teammates. He would not watch Price get knocked down and then look the other way.

    GO HABS…

  18. Tony McLean says:

    Amen. O’Byrne was a keeper too.

    What does it say on Bob Gainey’s office door?
    “Larry Robinson not welcome.”

  19. SeriousFan09 says:

    Latendresse and Lapierre are tough?

    I’m blaming you if my nonstop laughter causes my spleen to rupture.

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
    SF09 on Twitter

  20. HabinBurlington says:

    Ryan White, what do I win?

  21. Bill says:

    “Troll’?

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  22. SeriousFan09 says:

    Throwing hits doesn’t make you useful, especially if they’re all behind the play and not useful to what’s going on in the game.

    Lapierre’s issue is he couldn’t keep his foot on the gas pedal, Guimauve’s issue was he couldn’t move the gas pedal because crumpled-up poutine containers were stuck under it. We need Ryan Whites, Justin Abdelkaders and such, not them.

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
    SF09 on Twitter

  23. HabinBurlington says:

    I have never been a fan of JM, however, I can do nothing about it. In my opinion he has to produce this year. If he doesn’t I think there will be enough pressure from the press, fans and the sheer reality that this group and coach didn’t fit. However if he does get this team into a 4th/5th seeding in the East and the team wins a couple series he will indeed be back for his final year.

    We are on the verge of having some genuine prospects help this team with depth, unfortunately right now we are thin. I would like a tougher team but think a healthy White and healthy eller makes this team much better. Hopefully PG can surprise us with a tweak!

  24. kitbeyer says:

    Please take this post with a grain of salt. I don’t mean it to be as abrasive as it might sound.

    This is an interesting post to me so I’d like to pose a question.

    If you are just watching for sheer entertainment value than why do you have a favourite team? If entertainment is your goal, it doesn’t seem like money well spent at all to pick one team and hope they entertain you. Just watch the ones you find most entertaining and be content with money well spent.

    Also, having a favourite changes the value of what might be simply entertaining plays, games, or seasons. Boston-Montreal first round last year was a very entertaining series. Some great goals, some great goaltending. Dramatic back story. Three overtime games including game 7. But because we all have favourites, that entertainment value was amplified for most Bruin fans and reduced for us Habs fans. I know I always get a little more excited when I see Pacioretty or AK snipe top corner than when I see highlights of Stamkos do it. I tingle when Price makes a huge stop where I simply say “nice save” when someone else does it.

    I think that choosing a favourite adds a layer on top of simple entertainment value. And I guess my bottom line is that if the season ends with a parade, nobody will give a damn how “entertaining” this group of guys or their coach was.

  25. HabinBurlington says:

    I did suggest that yesterday morning thinking it would be a popular choice.

  26. 100HABS says:

    I think defence is their greatest weakness. I didn’t vote.

  27. Feraco says:

    haha are we that bad?

    Molson Ex mon ami

  28. G-Man says:

    How can you only bash and bash? It’s about the players,too, jl, not just management.
    When the guys wearing the uniform deserve accolades I mention them.
    All I’m seeing on this site most of the time are negative nellies like you.

  29. HabFab says:

    “troll” = anyone who dares disagree with your obviously superior understanding of what is what!

    At least, that is my understanding of what he meant ;)
    I, however, have been wrong before. :)

  30. 1010 says:

    Well, actually I did say he signed him in my original statement. My error but I can assure you it was a bad choice of words and not a case of being misinformed. But I still say it was a huge mistake and I do not make a habit of slamming Bob Gainey.

    GO HABS…

  31. Tony McLean says:

    Wtf is Gainey doing? What’s his title???

  32. Tony McLean says:

    Jacques, is that you?
    ———————–
    What does it say on Bob Gainey’s office door?
    “Larry Robinson not welcome.”

  33. Tony McLean says:

    Tougher than Sakless Koivette, he of 0 Stanley Cup rings.

    What does it say on Bob Gainey’s office door?
    “Larry Robinson not welcome.”

  34. kitbeyer says:

    f–k me, they’re on to me.

  35. kitbeyer says:

    absolutely not, sorry, i wasn’t trying to imply you were less of a fan than me at all.

    i don’t think i’m articulate enough to actually get at my point but it had to do with all of us being more emotionally invested in watching hockey than just entertainment seeking.


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