The Colorado Avalanche are the Russians of NHL teams: enigmatic. They made the playoffs back in 2009-10, promptly became the worst non-Edmonton team in the NHL the next season, and were borderline out of the playoffs last season. The team is talented, but young; the Avalanche have one of the youngest teams in the NHL, a fact exemplified by the fact that their captain Gabriel Landeskog is the youngest permanent captain in NHL history. But that's okay, because as some have pointed out, Landeskog is very mature for his age. The Avalanche are also without Ryan O'Reilly, who continues to sit out without a contract. While O'Reilly was released from his KHL contract, there have been no reports of any progress in the talks between O'Reilly and the team.
|2-1-0, 4 points||3-0-0, 6 points|
|3rd in Western Conference
||2nd in Western Conference
This afternoon's game will be the first to feature newly-signed Shark Scott Gomez, who is arguably one of the biggest free agent signings this side of Rob Blake, which is slightly depressing. Gomez's speed and playmaking ability should be a boon for the slightly unconventional fourth line; whereas many fourth lines feature the tough guys, the line of Sheppard-Gomez-Wingels should be tough to play against and be able to put the puck in the net at least a handful of times.
As Gomez's debut in teal looms, allow me to remind everyone of a website the Neutral posted in his Nostradamus post about this signing way back on January 15, a website that I had glanced at several times last season: DidGomezScore.com.
Whereas usually this is where I start going into detail about the Avalanche, I instead want to give you a brief history of the NHL in Colorado.
Once upon a time, there was a team in Kansas City, Missouri. The team was inaugural-season-Sharks-ian, with a high of 15 wins in the two seasons in not-Kansas. But unlike traditional market expansion teams like San Jose or Dallas, there was not much support, averaging just over 8,000 fans a game. Enter Colorado.
The team relocated in 1974 to Denver, becoming the Colorado Rockies. That team did marginally better, actually breaking 20 wins (they got 22 in 1980-81 season) and making the playoffs one time (with a 19-40-21 record in 1977-78). Of course, the most notable thing about the Rockies was the coach for the 1979-80 season (the Rockies changed coaches more than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends), the always flamboyant Don Cherry. They finished last in the league.
Finally, in 1982, they were relocated to New Jersey and became the Devils, where they promptly ignored anything that happened in Colorado or not-Kansas.
Colorado was without an NHL team until the Quebec Nordiques, who were losing money hand over fist due to high player salaries and a weak Canadian dollar, were sold to a Denver-based group and relocated to Colorado in 1995. They then immediately won the Stanley Cup, which is kind of hilarious but also not really fair.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball got the bright idea to put a team in Colorado, where the altitude would certainly have no affect on batted balls at all, and decided to name that team the Colorado Rockies. Because, as we all know, "Colorado Rockies" is the name of a extremely successful, winning franchise.