The Colorado Avalanche are off to one of the best starts in franchise history, and will have a chance to help first-year head coach Patrick Roy record a milestone win when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Should Roy start the season 7-0, he would be the first coach to do so in his first year, and there could be no better opponent than his former rivals to set up such an opportunity. The Avalanche have received stellar goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and their offense is off to a roaring start as well. The Red Wings started slow but have rattled of three consecutive wins since head coach Mike Babcock juggled their lines, and two of those wins have come with backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson in net.
It will be Gustavsson making a third straight start on Thursday, with Colorado sending out Varlamov at the other end. Varlamov is 5-0 with a 1.20 goals-against this season, while Gustavsson is 2-0 with a 1.50 goals-against. Either something has to give for one of the netminders, or it will be a low-scoring, tightly contested affair. With the way both offenses have been clicking lately, it’s hard to see this game finishing with a 1-0 score. Colorado comes into the game sixth in the league averaging 3.5 goals per game, while detroit is 15th and netting 2.6 per game. The Red Wings power play has been better recently but could use some improvement, and that isn’t likely to come against Colorado’s league-best penalty kill. The Avalanche will also be looking to improve on their play with the man-advantage, but will face an uphill battle against the Red Wings’ fifth-ranked penalty kill.
While the rivalry between the Red Wings and Avalanche isn’t nearly as heated as it used to be, adding Roy back into the mix should certainly make it more interesting. Both teams have a chance to show they are ready to claim a place at the top of league standings, and this game will be one no one should miss.