Five things from the Avs 6-5 win over Dallas

The Colorado Avalanche opened the 2016-17 campaign with a wild 6-5 win over the Dallas Stars under new head coach Jared Bednar.

It was a rough start for the Avalanche when Blake Comeau took a holding penalty in the defensive zone and Tyler Seguin scoring his first goal of the night all within the first minute of the game. The Stars took a 2-0 6:17 later but from that point the Avs turned it around.

Joe Colborne scored the first of his three goals during a frantic scramble in front at 9:21 then added his second of the night at 16:25 of the first period to head to the intermission tied 2-2.

The Avalanche reeled off three straight goals in the first 7:05 in the first period to take a 5-2 lead before the Stars were finally able to settle things down with goals from Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Up a goal to start the third and with momentum shifting in the Stars direction, Tyson Barrie gave them a bit of a cushion with a slap shot from the point to make it a 6-5 game. Brett Ritchie scored about a minute later to get the game to within one, but the defense was able to clamp down and Semyon Varlamov came up with some key saves to get the victory.

With the win, the Avalanche extended Bednar’s personal win streak to 16 games extending back to the AHL Playoffs and the preseason. More importantly, it got the team an early victory with a brutal road trip coming up on Monday, with stops in Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and Sunrise, FL.

Here are my five takeaways from the win.

1. What a return to Denver it was for Colborne, the former DU standout. In his first 27 minutes in an Avalanche uniform he earned his first NHL hat trick. The three goals were great, but the thing that stands out to me is the way he did it. Colborne was a fixture in front of the Dallas net all night long and thats where all his goals game from. He was able to use his large frame to get great positioning and i think if he does that consistently he could be in line for another good season and provide the Avalanche with the depth scoring they need.

2. One of the biggest criticisms of the Avalanche under Patrick Roy were the possession numbers, or lack there of. It’s only one game but the Avs were the better possession team on Saturday against a high powered Stars offense. Total shot attempts finished 60-54 in favor of Colorado as did shots on goal at 33-28. From time the Stars scored their second goal the Avalanche were the better Corsi team, which is a good start.

3. It’s tough to evaluate teams in the preseason, since most clubs aren’t fielding their regular lineups and the Avs special teams are a perfect example of that. The Avs struggled on the power play in the exhibition games, but excelled on the penalty kill. On Saturday night, it was the complete opposite. The power play was terrific, finishing 2-for-3 and the unit of Grigorenko-MacKinnon-Colborne-Landeskog-Johnson were outstanding. They possessed the seemingly the entire time they were on the ice and were big part of the Avs six shots on goal on the advantage. The penalty kill really struggled, giving up two goals on four tries. There was a lot of scrambling around and lack of structure, hopefully it’s something they can get corrected in a hurry before facing deadly power play’s in Pittsburgh and Washington.

4. Another example of a tough evaluation from the preseason comes in goal, as Varlamov struggled most of the night against the Stars. He faced 28 shots and gave up 5 goals. He wasn’t able to do a good enough job controlling rebounds and looked like he was having trouble tracking the puck. He wont start again until Tuesday against Washington, with Calvin Pickard getting the nod against the Penguins.

5. I mentioned it earlier and a lot in the preseason, but i really liked the way the Avalanche didnt just sit back and try and protect the big lead. Yes, they gave up a three goal lead but a lot of that was based on the way the Stars kept coming and not the Avs just sitting back. Once Colorado went up 5-2 with just under 13 minutes left in the 2nd period they had 15 shot attempts to the Stars 11, with shots on goal 7-6 in favor of Dallas for the remainder of the period. Goaltending let them down a bit in that situation, and if Varlamov gets going they could be just fine.

Avalanche closer to setting their regular season roster

As the NHL regular season is set to get under way on Wednesday night, the league has a 3pm MST deadline for clubs to have their rosters down to the required 23 players. The Avalanche got their roster set with some cuts before practice and one move after.

The club announced on Tuesday morning that forwards Trent Vogelhuber and Mike Sislo were reassigned to the clubs AHL affiliate in San Antonio, putting the roster at 24.

According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post injured players Mikko Rantanen, Jarome Iginla and Blake Comeau participated in practice, while John Mitchell did not.

It would appear that Mitchell is likely headed to IR with a hip injury and the roster should be set for the opener.

The club will open the season on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars with 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies.

Gabriel Bourque, Rene Bourque, Joe Colborne, Comeau, Matt Duchene, Mikhail Grigorenko, Iginla, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Andreas Martinsen, Cody McLeod, Rantanen, Ben Smith and Carl Soderberg will be the forwards.

Tyson Barrie, Francois Beauchemin, Eric Gelinas, Erik Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch and Nikita Zadorov will be the defensemen.

Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard will the the net minders.

Stay tuned for my Between The Pipes podcast on Wednesday night with my co-host Bruce Pape as we will preview the upcoming Avalanche and NHL season. You can subscribe to it on iTunes here:


Avalanche roster update

The Colorado Avalanche don’t kick off the 2016-17 season until Saturday night, but the roster moves have been coming daily with more moves coming on Monday.

The club announced that they have signed Rene and Gabriel Bourque to one-year deals. Both players, who are not related, were invited to training camp on professional tryout contracts.

Head coach Jared Bednar said after today’s practice, “We feel they both earned the right to be here and earned the contracts. Both different in their own ways but we like them.”

Rene, 34, played in 49 games for Columbus last season, tallying eight points with three goals and five assists. This will be his 12th NHL season. His deal is a one-way for $650k.

Gabriel, 26, spent the last five seasons in Nashville but played just 22 games last year with four points (1g, 3a). His deal is worth $800k and is a two-way deal.

According to TSN’s Bob MacKenzie, the team put forward Mike Sislo on waivers today, and if he clears he will likely be assigned to San Antonio. Duncan Siemens cleared waivers on Sunday and was reassigned to San Antonio, and that move left seven defensemen on the active roster and that will likely be how Bednar starts the season.

The forward roster is down to 16 with Sislo being waived and probably reassigned, so they’ll have two more moves to make in order to get down to the 23 player maximum. Mikko Rantanen, Jarome Iginla, Blake Comeau and John Mitchell are are nursing injuries and their availability is not yet clear.

My best guess is that Trent Vogelhuber and Mike Sislo would be the likely cut once they finalize the roster.

Avalanche hire Bednar as Head Coach


The Colorado Avalanche announced on Thursday that they have hired Jared Bednar as the seventh head coach in Avalanche history.

Bednar, 44, was previously the head coach of the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL who won the Calder Cup this past season. He served as the head coach of the Blue Jackets affiliate for two seasons after being brought in as an assistant coach, but was promoted after Brad Larsen was moved up to be an assistant for Columbus. He went 81-50-21 in his two seasons as the Monsters head coach.

“After profiling the type of coach I wanted for our team and going through an interview process with several good candidates, I believe that Jared Bednar is the best person to lead this team behind the bench,” Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic said in a press release. “Jared’s track record of success as a head coach in the American Hockey League speaks for itself and he is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming coaches in our business.”

Bednar was the head coach of the Peoria Rivermen from 2010-12 after coming over from the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL where he won his first championship.

In six seasons as an AHL and ECHL head coach, his clubs have made the playoffs four times and won two championships.

The Avalanche brought in Nolan Pratt to be an assistant coach this offseason from Lake Erie and he will join Bednar on the Avalanche bench.


“My family and I are thrilled to be heading to Denver to begin this new challenge,” said Bednar in a team press release. “I feel ready for this role with the Avalanche and I am grateful for the trust that  Josh Kroenke, Joe (Sakic) and the organization has shown me. This is a great sports market with a passionate fan base and I can’t wait to get to work. I would also like to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for the opportunity they gave me.”


Avalanche and Barrie agree to a new for year deal

Following an arbitration hearing on Friday, the Colorado Avalanche and Defenseman Tyson Barrie came to terms on a new four-year, $22 million deal for the restricted free agent.

The deal was announced on Sunday which was when the arbitrator was expected to rule on the salary for Barrie. The Avalanche submitted a salary of $4-million  for the first season and $4.25-million the following two years, while Barrie and his agent Don Meehan submitted a one-year, $6-million deal.

Barrie will make $5M, $5.25M, $5.75M and $6M over the next four years with an annual cap hit of $5.5M making him the sixth highest paid player on the roster, and the second highest paid defenseman behind Erik Johnson and his $6M cap hit.

The Avalanche now have all 23 NHL players under contract for next season, however the two new deals for Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon put the team right up against the salary cap. projects that they currently have only $959, 407 of cap space.

Barrie is coming off a 13-goal, 36-assist season with 21 points on the power play. In 264 career games Barrie has registered 40-goals and 113-assists for 153 points.

Avalanche sign MacKinnon to new deal

The Colorado Avalanche announced Friday that the organization has signed forward Nathan MacKinnon to a new seven-year contract.

According to multiple reports, the deal is worth a total of $44.1M with an AAV of $6.3M per season which would make him the highest paid member of the Avalanche. Matt Duchene was the team’s previously highest paid player with a cap hit of $6M per season.

The deal leaves the Avalanche with an estimated $7.76M in cap space for the upcoming season with 21 players currently under contract. Defenseman Tyson Barrie is scheduled to have an arbitration hearing sometime between July 20th and August 5th that will determine his salary, and forward Mikhail Grigorenko needs a new deal as a restricted free agent.

The news comes just minutes after the Winnipeg Jets announced a new eight-year, $49M deal today.

MacKinnon’s contract is the second highest deal handed out to a restricted free agent this offseason behind Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who inked a new eight-year deal worth $7.5M per season.

The former first-round pick from 2013 has 59 goals, 94 assists for 153 points in 218 career games and finished third on the Avalanche scoring list this past season with 21 goals and 31 assists in 72 games.

Barrie and Grigorenko file for arbitration

With Tuesday’s deadline for players to file for salary arbitration, the NHLPA announced that 24 players filed for this season including Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Mikhail Grigorenko.
Since the players elected to file, the team will dictate the terms of the deal meaning the Avalanche can choose to give either player a one or two year deal and an arbitrator will decide the players salary for the length of the contract.

The players and the team can continue to negotiate up until the date of the players hearing with the hearings taking place anywhere between July 20th and August 4th.