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An October To Remember

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche jumped out to a torrid start in 2009-10, posting a 10-2-2 record in October. Along the way, the squad (and some of its players) matched or tied a handful of team, franchise and NHL records.

With the first month of the regular season recently coming to a close, it’s a good time to take a look back at what the Avalanche accomplished in October.

Hot Out Of The Gates
Under rookie head coach Joe Sacco, the Avalanche posted a 10-2-2 record (22 points) in October, equaling the best start through 14 games in Avalanche history (since 1995-96). That mark matched the 2000-01 Stanley Cup championship team, which also went 10-2-2-0 through 14 contests. The only team in franchise history to post a better record after 14 games was the 1994-95 Quebec Nordiques, who were 12-2-0.

Under Sacco’s guidance, the Avalanche set a new franchise record for wins in October. It also marked the first time Colorado had reached double-digit wins in a single month since March of 2007 (11-1-2).
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Anderson In The Record Books
Craig Anderson tied the NHL record for wins by a goaltender in the month of October with 10, matching the mark Manny Legace set with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06. Anderson’s 10 victories also tied the Colorado/Quebec franchise record for a single month (equaling Dan Bouchard, who had 10 wins in February of 1981 and Peter Budaj, who notched 10 victories in March of 2007).

Anderson also set new NHL records for games played and starts in October by playing every minute during the Avalanche’s 14 October contests.

For his efforts, the netminder was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week twice in the first three weeks of the 2009-10 campaign.

Home Sweet Home
Although fans in Denver didn’t get to see a whole lot of live hockey during the season’s first month, what they did see had to please them. First, the Avalanche opened the season with consecutive wins over the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center on Oct. 1 and Oct. 3. Colorado then topped the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back games on Oct. 23-24, giving the club a perfect 4-0-0 mark at home to begin the year.
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Defense Contributing
The Avalanche’s defensive corps produced quite a bit of offense in the opening month of the season, contributing at least one point in every October game. Through the club’s first 14 contests, the eight defensemen who suited up for Colorado (Brett Clark, Kyle Cumiskey, Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, John-Michael Liles, Kyle Quincey, Ruslan Salei and Ryan Wilson) combined to produce 32 points (7g/25a).

Quincey, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings during the offseason, was the biggest contributor from the blue line. The fifth-year pro recorded eight points (2g/6a) in 14 games during the opening month. He also notched points in each of his first five games (1g/5a), becoming the first Avalanche defenseman to open a season with points in five consecutive games since Sandis Ozolinsh in 1996-97.

Young Guns
Rookie forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, who have both suited up in every game this season, became the first 18-year-olds to ever play for the Avalanche. With both Duchene and O’Reilly in the lineup on opening night, the Avalanche became the first NHL team to have a pair of 18-year-olds play in a season opener since the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96 (Shane Doan, Jason Doig).

O’Reilly scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 15 at Montreal (a tally that doubled as the game-winner), while Duchene notched his two nights later in Detroit. Matt Hendricks (who scored a goal on Oct. 10 at Chicago) and Ryan Wilson (an assist on Oct. 23 vs. Carolina) also recorded their first career NHL points in the first month of the season.
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