The Colorado Avalanche seem to have a new system and new attitude that can lead to long-term success.
Following a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night, the Colorado Avalanche record is only 4 and 3, which is nothing to write home about. But there are extremely encouraging signs from the team sporting the burgundy and blue. And perhaps more importantly, the change behind the bench and a few subtle off-season moves has rendered this team almost unrecognizable at times.
The System Seems to Work
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Following the Bednar hiring we heard how “the system” was going to cure all that ailed the Colorado Avalanche. I yawned and awaited proof of real change.
We are seeing it in a number of areas, first and foremost, on the forecheck. Regardless of who is on the ice, the forecheck seems to be at least a gear higher of what we became accustomed to seeing the last few years.
It was frustrating to watch the Avs get outshot consistently the last few years, but the 2016/17 Avalanche are keeping it in the offensive zone much more under coach Bednar’s system. In seven games the Avs have outshot their opponents three times and tied the Penguins in shots. More importantly, they have have dominated play at times, and it has started with the forecheck.
In addition to tangible changes like shots and forechecking, the change behind the bench brought a new attitude. Terry Frei of the Denver Post noted the no excuses approach of Coach Bednar’s comments following the loss to the Caps.
Another notable example of the new attitude is that there seem to be no sacred cows. Just ask Cody McLeod, who is frequently a healthy scratch. Regardless of how much respect there is for a player or his history wearing the jersey, in the end it’s about winning as a team.
Jarome Iginla is still playing as a top 6 forward but, consistent with this no sacred cows approach, I look for that to change if #12 doesn’t start producing in even strength situations. See Ross Seller’s excellent article on this very subject.
I foresee Joe Colborne, who played on the 4th line against the Coyotes, moving up the bench and Iginla moving down. At this point in his career, perhaps Iggy should be on the power play and the 4th line. Colborne’s stats on the other hand reflect a player that produces in both even strength and power play situations.
So Far so Good
So the new system and the team’s attitude make this season’s Colorado Avalanche look very different than recent editions. Questions and challenges remain but there are many positive signs. Given the coaching change less than 8 weeks before the season opener, I will take a 4 and 3 record. Let’s hope that with more time within the system this new look team only gets better. Bring on the games!