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State of the Colorado Avalanche Address

A look at the Colorado Avalanche's 2022-23 season as the team enters the All-Star Break

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 2 months ago 6 min read

To any and all of my fellow Colorado Avalanche fans...well...we made it.

As we all know, the only thing harder than winning the Stanley Cup is defending it. Every team's ultimate drive is winning the Stanley Cup, but once you've won it, you want to do it again that following year. That is immensely difficult. Yet in the last decade, we've seen the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning go back-to-back. So why can't the Avalanche do it? Even though the team lost Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and Darcy Kuemper this offseason, the Avs still have a lot of those big game players that led this team to the Stanley Cup last year. Even after those losses, I said, "We're repeating this year."

Only one thing could stop a team like this: injuries. Unfortunately, that's what's been happening this season. For starters, the Avs' defense of the Stanley Cup began without the captain himself, Gabriel Landeskog. It was originally stated that Landeskog would be back by January, but there's been a setback. Now, it looks like Our Captain won't be back until playoff time. This is 2001-02 all over again. That year, the Avs were the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but had to play the entire regular season without Peter Forsberg. However, Forsberg returned for the playoffs and had 27 points (9 G/18 A) in 21 games, but the team fell one win short of returning to the Stanley Cup Final. It definitely looks like Landeskog will be back for the playoffs, should the Avs make it.

Valeri Nichushkin scored four goals in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Injuries have been plaguing the team this season, though that, sadly, is the risk a team takes when they go on a long run. It wasn't just Landeskog who would be out. Valeri Nichushkin had been straddling the injured line this season, doing so after getting off to a hot start--scoring seven goals withing the first week or so. Nichushkin received a huge payday during the offseason: a nice and shiny eight-year deal. Could be because he scored four goals in the Cup Final last year, that's usually a reason to show him the money. Defensemen Josh Manson and Bowen Byram also ended up injured; both have yet to return, though there are stories out that Byram could be on the way back, hopefully. Love Bowen Byram. Still can't believe he fell right on the Avs' lap in that 2019 draft, and it's all because of that Matt Duchene trade. Byram had nine points during that 2022 run--all assists.

Nathan MacKinnon earned his sixth All-Star selection this year

Nathan MacKinnon also missed a number of games this season, which resulted in the Avs' power play suffering, and even his return on New Year's Eve didn't help things, as the Avalanche's lull continued. However, the Avs have been getting back on track as of late, and MacKinnon has delivered with points at the right time. MacKinnon, who scored one of the Avs' two goals in Game Six of last year's Final, has 54 points in 37 games this season (13 G/41 A), and he'll be an All-Star this season--his sixth overall selection in his career.

Mikko Rantanen has been leading the charge with his linemates out

You know, with each season that passes, my fandom of Mikko Rantanen increases. On social media, I refer to Rantanen as the new "Finnish Flash"; he gets better and better every year, especially when he's on that top line with MacKinnon and Landeskog. Unfortunately, Rantanen hasn't had the pleasure of playing alongside both of his linemates, and he has had to become the team leader during the brief period that MacKinnon was out injured. Rantanen is leading the team in points (61) and goals (34) this season; he's on pace for his first 50-goal season and 100-point season of his career, and those numbers are good enough for him to be an All-Star this season.

Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2022

Cale Makar is the best defenseman in the NHL. Period. Call me biased, try to bring up Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, Roman Josi, and the resurging Erik Karlsson, but let's face facts, none hold a candle to Makar. He's not even 25, yet he's won the Calder, the Norris, the Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smythe Trophy. This season: 45 points (13 G/32 A) this season, which is third on the team behind Rantanen and MacKinnon. Makar is also an All-Star this season, and he was selected among the first batch of players announced for this year's event. Again, best defenseman in the league. Prove me wrong.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the Cup-clinching goal in Game Six

I am absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt giddy that we have Artturi Lehkonen. When I heard we traded for him during last year's trade deadline, I literally marked out. The main reason why I'm a huge Lehkonen fan is because of that goal he scored in the 2021 playoffs. Lehkonen was part of the Montreal Canadiens' big run to the Cup Final, and he was the one who scored in OT in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinal against the Vegas Golden Knights, which clinched the series for the Habs. Lehkonen would do it again last year, this time for the Avs. He won Game Four against the Edmonton Oilers in OT to send the Avs to the Cup Final, and in Game Six of that Final, his goal was the Cup clincher. Lehkonen has 34 points this season (15 G/19 A), and this is the first year of his new eight-year deal.

Alexandar Georgiev is in his first season as a starting goaltender

I was heartbroken when the Avs moved on from Darcy Kuemper, but that didn't last long, as I beamed when I heard that we acquired Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. Georgiev was the backup for reigning Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin, and as long as he was there, we wouldn't see Georgiev get a lot of starts. He had been golden in the few times he started for the Rangers, so the Avs took him and put him in the spotlight. Georgiev's numbers entering the break: 19-11-3, 2.62 GAA, .918 SV%, and two shutouts. He's learned quite a bit from Igor.

The Avalanche have been struggling in the standings this season, mainly as a result of injuries, but also because that the team has failed to actually finish some games. In spite of all of this, the Avs enter the break at 27-18-3 and 57 points, and still have a very good shot at a playoff spot. The Avs won seven of their last eight games to end the first half on a good note after dancing around the playoff line for the better part of a month. Interestingly, in each of the last five seasons that the Avs have reached the playoffs, the team was behind the playoff line entering the break in the first two seasons of this streak.

My thoughts: again, this team is playoff bound, and I honestly see no reason why the Avs shouldn't repeat as Cup Champions. Even with the offseason losses and the injuries we've had to deal with, I still say that the Avalanche are a serious threat to repeat. The second half will tell the tale; the Avs don't play again until February 7. Even with all of the drawbacks and obstacles, this team still looks pretty strong and dangerous. And if the Avs get off to a hot start in the second half, if February and March see winning tears from this team, then I have two words for the rest of the league: look out!


About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Instagram

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Comments (2)

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  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    Nice article and recap :)

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Good review. I certainly wouldn't write them off, either.

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