BOSTON — The Colorado Avalanche almost certainly won’t win the Stanley Cup. There’s a good chance they won’t even make the playoffs. But it’s almost impossible to deny, even just four games into the season, that they won’t be a much better team than they were last year.
That, of course, is not saying much. Colorado won just 16 games last season in the lockout-shortened season. Only the lowly Florida Panthers had fewer points than the Avs’ 39. For a team that was so dominant as recently as a decade ago, they had reached rock bottom.
That’s when they decided to shake things up and start over. That’s when they brought Patrick Roy back to the organization. While the Avs are only four games into the season, it’s clear that hiring Roy was a pretty smart move.
Colorado sits at 4-0-0 now atop of the NHL. Their wins, they’re not necessarily cheap. They have already beaten Anaheim, Nashville, Toronto and now the Bruins, who they defeated 2-0 at TD Garden on Thursday night. Of those four teams, three went to the playoffs last season. The Ducks won their division. The Bruins won the Eastern Conference.
Yet here the Avs are after four games boasting a perfect record. Not only that, those wins have been convincing. Colorado has outscored its opponents 13-3 so far this season.
Much of the success has to be attributed to Roy, who knows nothing but success. When he took over the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts in 2005, he took them to the finals. They won no fewer than 37 games under him and won as many as 49 in 68- and 70-game schedules.
Now he’s looking to do the same thing with the Avalanche. So far, so good.
“The whole mentality is changing, our whole attitude,” goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “We seem to believe in ourselves a little bit more. It’s just a different voice and guys seem to be responding well to it right now.”
The Avs came into Boston on Thursday night with plenty of jump. Their team speed was apparent from the beginning, and they did a fine job of breaking out of their zone and starting transitional offense. It put the Bruins back on their heels, at least for the first period, and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“I think they did exactly what we talked about doing before the game,” B’s center Patrice Bergeron said. “They were moving their feet and they were first on the pucks in the first period and we were slow getting there.”
“They skate hard, they have some skill up front and especially in the first, we were really taking it from them,” goalie Tuukka Rask added. “Got to give them credit — really good team.”
That’s high praise coming from two players who certainly know how to win and have won at the highest level before. There aren’t many tougher tests than coming into a defending conference champion’s barn and knocking them off. Were the Bruins a little rusty after a four-day layoff? Sure. But good teams take advantage of that, and if you get back on the bus with two points on the road, that’s a good night. That’s exactly what the Avalanche had Thursday night.
“Honestly I mean, we don’t really have expectations we just want to surprise the world of hockey,” Roy said. “And at the same time we’re humble, we take it one day at a time, and here we are 4-0 at the start of the year, which is unexpected from a lot people.”
While they’re not yet legitimate contenders, the Avalanche proved Thursday night in Boston that they’re certainly on the right track with the right guy leading the way.