The biggest surprise so far this season has been the Colorado Avalanche, who have jumped out to a 5-0 record with their ten points tied for the NHL lead with the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
After selecting first in the most recent NHL Draft expectations weren’t too high for the Avalanche, but first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon and the eccentric new head coach Patrick Roy have the Avalanche bolting out of the gates.
The play from MacKinnon has been a breath of fresh air, as he has been everything they had hoped for when they decided to take him over Seth Jones. But the true difference hasn’t been with MacKinnon or Matt Duchene, it has been in net, where the Avalanche have allowed the fewest goals this season.
Semyon Varlamov has been spectacular thus far this season, going 4-0 in four starts and has stopped 139-of-143 shots for a .970 save percentage. Backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started strong in his only start, pitching a 39-save shutout against the Boston Bruins.
The biggest concern going into this year was defense and goaltending, not so much scoring, which made the selection of MacKinnon curious to some. Colorado allowed 27th most goals per games last season, and while their scoring wasn’t much better (26th in the league), the Avalanche weren’t going anywhere until they could stop the puck from getting out of the net.
Whether or not the Avalanche are truly contenders remains to be seen, but they are off to a great start and have the offensive pieces to put up points. It will just be up to the tandem of Varlamov and Giguere to keep them there.