The Avalanche aren’t bound for the basement even after slow start

Jared Clinton
Nathan-MacKinnon-COL3

As the saying goes in statistics, there’s an exception to prove the rule. The Colorado Avalanche and their incredible success in 2013-14 were just that – the exception – for statistically inclined hockey fans.

From the top down, it was the kind of year that baffles the mind. It seemed like each and every night the Avalanche would be outshot, pinned, and scrambling in their own end. Each night, it also seemed like the games would have the same result: an Avalanche victory. Read more

If Semyon Varlamov’s injury is serious, should Avs look at Martin Brodeur or Tim Thomas?

Adam Proteau
Semyon Varlamov (Getty Images)

Prior to the start of the season, pundits were projecting a return to earth for the Colorado Avalanche, who won 52 games in 2013-14 despite having some of the worst advanced statistics in the NHL. They leaned on goalie Semyon Varlamov and a superb shooting percentage on their way to finishing second in the Western Conference, and more than a few observers were expecting that couldn’t last again.

About five percent of the way through the season, at least, both those projections have come to pass. The Avs were shut out in back-to-back losses at the hands of the Minnesota Wild to start the year and only managed four goals in their next two games. And now, worse news: Varlamov has been placed on Injury Reserve thanks to a wonky groin, and there’s no timetable for his return. And in Colorado’s first game without him Thursday – a 4-3 loss to Ottawa that saw the Avs blow a 3-1 lead after the first period – they sure looked like they missed him, especially when backup Reto Berra left the game after being hit by Kyle Turris in his crease and third-stringer rookie Calvin Pickard had to step in.

And now they’re potentially facing a serious quandary: if Varlamov’s injury is serious, do they go out and acquire veteran help? Read more

No NHL edict directing linesmen to break up fights before they start

Ken Campbell
Dion Phaneuf (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

According to the NHL’s director of hockey operations, linesmen Greg Devorski and Scott Driscoll acted of their own accord when they decided to intervene before Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf could start fighting Tuesday night, and were not following a league edict.

And that’s because there isn’t an edict for them to follow.

There was no shortage of consternation from fans and television analysts when the two linesmen intervened in what everyone assumed would have been a doozy of a fight between Phaneuf and Iginla, former teammates and friends who have attended each other’s weddings. This was not a staged fight, they argued. It was more of an “organic” fight that is much more palatable because it arose from the high emotions of the game. And to be fair, there was a lot of contact and some questionable hits prior to the incident. Read more

Goodbye, NHL enforcers. Believe it or not, I won’t miss you

Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There was a time when I watched a hockey game and if there wasn’t a fight I felt ripped off.

I loved a good  scrap; so much so that when Steve Dryden offered me a position at The Hockey News in 1992, I took the job on the condition I would never have to write an anti-fighting story. I was well-aware of Dryden’s stance that there is no place for fighting in hockey and I did not share the sentiment.

How the times have changed. I have not yet completely sided with the anti-fighting movement, but I am close. Very close. I no longer have a thirst to see two huge men pound on each other even though the dinosaur in me understands why the game needs such an outlet.

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The Hot List: Banned in Minnesota, thriving in Vancouver

Vancouver's Alec Baer  (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

With NCAA hockey officially in full swing, there is action aplenty to watch for in the prospect world. Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Erie’s Connor McDavid already seem to have a fantastic game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better going on, but who else should you be watching this season? Here are some of the other names making noise right now.

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Budding Swede Ludwig Bystrom headlines The Hot List

Ludwig Bystrom (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

With NHL rosters set, we will soon say goodbye to some Hot List favorites. Since as soon as players such as Curtis Lazar in Ottawa and Anthony Duclair of the Rangers make their big-time debuts, they will be considered graduates here. But while those players make their dreams come true, others are still on the path, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects making noise around the world right now.

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Guess what happens when Nathan MacKinnon races an Olympic speed skater

Ryan Kennedy
Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon is a fast dude. He has already made countless defensemen look silly with his skating prowess and promises to do more of the same in his sophomore season, but just how fast is he?

In a video produced by CCM (MacKinnon endorses their line of Tacks skates and wears them in the clip), the Avs pivot takes on Canadian Olympic speed skater Charles Hamelin, who has two golds and a silver medal to his name. The result? See for yourself:

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