Will Avalanche of Wins Make Colorado a Contender??

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Am I to trust the Colorado Avalanche?? Is this ten-game winning streak (as of this writing) something I should be excited for?? With all the promise this team had in the past, it’s hard to get excited when they had 52 wins one season and then haven’t made the playoffs since. For a team that holds their alumni in as high regard as the Edmonton Oilers did throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, there was plenty of dysfunction to go around.

However, it seems that whatever Jared Bednar has been preaching to the team has finally stuck with them. Nathan MacKinnon has been a stud this season while ranking up with the NHL’s top scorers thus far. Not to mention how well Jonathan Bernier has been playing since taking over for the injured Semyon Varlamov (9-0-0 since December 31st), the Avalanche may be onto something good for once.

They’re holding onto the last Wild Card spot in a very hectic Western Conference and it almost seems like getting rid of Matt Duchene is what turned this team around for the better, at least according to MacKinnon. The Avs have have gone 19-10-3 in the subsequent 33 games since the trade, while MacKinnon has 47 points in those 33 games. More over, Mikko Rantanen is better than point-per-game thus far, while Alex Kerfoot has been a welcome surprise to the defensive corps, while adding plenty on the offensive side.

For all the guff that Joe Sakic has gotten– and maybe most of it warranted– the Duchene deal could be the thing that turned the attitude around for the Avalanche; though he could have gotten a little better in return during the summer, though hindsight is always 20/20. It’s a bit of a redemption for Sakic considering how many people have ripped him for what happened with the Duchene thing early in the season and his overall takeover of the GM from the cardboard cut-out that was purportedly Greg Sherman for those last few years Sherman had that title.

Of course, you can’t always take long winning-streaks as a hard-and-fast rule of teams coming out of a funk. Hell, last year’s Flyers had one and then missed the playoffs entirely. But maybe, just for this short time, the Avalanche can have a little bit of relieve considering the turmoil they had to deal with this off-season and into the early part of this season.

How To Solve A Problem Like Matt Duchene

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The ideas that are going around about what to do with Matt Duchene has taken a more vocal tone recently, especially after comments that former Avalanche star Peter Forsberg mad about the much maligned current Avalanche forward.

If you missed it, Forsberg told a Swedish publication that the Avalanche should bench and then trade Duchene. Now, I think think everyone is in agreement in the latter part in trading Duchene since he’s been on the rumor mill for the better part of two years now. To bench him, however, would be smart to keep him healthy, but silly because as a team in the condition the Avalanche is in; you can’t keep a top forward (at least for Colorado) on the sidelines when you’re trying to improve your team.

Of course, his coach backed Duchene up and Duchene brushed off the comments– so it’s not like there’s anymore internal drama than there needs to be. And there’s plenty.

Granted, another way to improve your team was to trade Duchene at the Draft or sometime during the summer in order to get a veteran defenseman, but who am I to say?? I’m sure the Colorado Avalanche front office has a handle on this, right?? Where’s Greg Sherman when you need him??┬áIf Duchene became a distraction in the locker room, that’s when you start to think about making him a healthy scratch and ramp up trade talks– which, when dealing with a disgruntled player, always gets the team trading said disgruntled player a great return.

This whole Duchene thing has been a calamity of errors for the Avalanche, which just adds to their laundry list of errors they have made in the past few seasons– like being the old boys club that ruined the Edmonton Oilers for years. It didn’t help that Duchene’s comments at training camp about “being here to honor my contract” came from his lips. It’s a craptastic situation on both sides, but neither did anything to make things better in the off-season.

Now, with all this said– the Avs aren’t playing terrible hockey…yet. Duchene has two points in three games, and things seem to be going contently enough. Maybe the winning and playing well with change Duchene’s mind. Maybe doing well enough will get a bigger return for Joe Sakic and the crew. Maybe it’s just going to be this merry-go-round again until the next Draft. The sky is the limit in the Mile-High City and to be honest, it’s just another added form of drama to this team who once was the class of the NHL.

At the end of the day, if the Avalanche are going to try a full rebuild, they need to do it like a band-aid and rip it off rather than being this cautious during it. They’ve had no plan with Duchene for the longest time and their best chance to land something of substance went bye-bye when Travis Hamonic was dealt to the Flames. The Duchene thing has the ability to get worse rather than get better. If things go south quickly, you have to wonder how much longer and how many teammates will become as disenchanted as Duchene.