As another hockey season draws near, the Colorado Avalanche look to build off of their successful season last year that landed them a trip to the playoffs before being eliminated in six games by the San Jose Sharks.
The Avalanche came into the home pre-season opener from a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues the night before in their first pre-season game. The next night the Los Angeles Kings came into town, and while the Avs got off to a good start with an early goal from Phillipe Dupuis, the team struggled later as they were plagued with penalty trouble. The Avalanche took a total of six minor penalties in the first period, culminating with Adam Foote’s double minor for elbowing and roughing occurring in the last two minutes of play.
The Kings scored two goals in the second period to tie the game and took the lead with an early third period goal by Brad Richardson with their fourth just three minutes later by Justin Williams.
Even though the Avalanche spent most of the game on the penalty kill, the Kings were only able to score one power play goal.
“Our penalty kill was good,” Avs coach Joe Sacco said. “That was one of the good things about taking all those penalties. I really liked what the guys did tonight, especially on the forecheck, up ice and heading through the neutral zone. We made it difficult for them to come clean into the zone.”
Besides spending most of the time in the penalty box, the Avalanche looked solid. Goaltender Craig Anderson saved a total of 17 of 18 shots in his 31 minutes of play before being replaced by John Grahame.
Foote and Cody Mcleod continued to exercise their physical dominance aided by newcomers David Koci and Cameron Gaunce, who both dropped gloves during the game.
The missing key during the game, however, was the lack of offense. The Avalanche were only able to get 23 shots on goal compared to 42 from the Kings.
Being that this is just the pre-season, Sacco assured that there would likely be changes made to the lineup.
“We’re still in the process of evaluating players,” he said. “That’s one of the main focus points here for this preseason.”
Based on the team’s performance last year, it would be a mistake to write off the Avalanche right away. But this is still a young team, and it will likely take some time for the young players to develop into consistent performers. For now, the future of the Avalanche is uncertain for the upcoming season.