The Avalanche is on some kind of a ride through the first few weeks of this 2013-14 season.
If that’s to continue tonight against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., the Avs will have to do what they’ve done all year: win on the road.
Colorado is a perfect 6-0 on three road trips this season and is the only NHL team with a spotless mark away from home. The Avs have already matched the longest road winning streak to begin a season in franchise history, and with a victory tonight would equal their longest road winning streak at any point of a season (seven games; Jan. 10 to Feb. 7, 1999).
Just another little milestone to reach for, for a hockey club that’s already bagged a few such morsels early on this season.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” forward PA Parenteau said. “We know we’ve got four, five days on the road, and we’re going to try and take advantage of that. We’ve been playing pretty good on the road so far this year. Tonight hopefully it won’t be any different.
“We need a good start. We had a good start against Washington (4-1 win Sunday in Denver), and I think that’s the key. If we start strong, [the Hurricanes] are going to know they’re going to be in for a battle, and that’s what we want.”
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy talked often in the preseason about the importance of his team getting off to quick starts in games, and his club has followed those instructions, scoring first 12 times this season, en route to 12 victories.
Colorado has also held a lead at the first intermission 10 times, and it’s 10-0 in those situations, too.
The Avs scored two times in the first period in its last meeting with Carolina (6-7-4) and held that 2-0 lead at the first break before going on to a 4-2 victory at Pepsi Center. That win was the Avs’ ninth through their first 10 games, and they’ve continued that pace, now sitting at 14-2—its best start through 16 games in franchise history.
“You come to the rink everyday, and you’re just excited and you feel like you’ve got a chance to win, and that just creates a buzz,” defenseman Cory Sarich said. “It’s a feeling I haven’t experienced for awhile. There’s no self-doubt—there’s confidence—and we just want to make sure we keep working hard so that sticks around.”
It’s Sunday night, and Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden is standing in front of his stall deep inside Pepsi Center. It’s been about an hour since he scored his first NHL goal and helped the Avs to another victory.
He can’t stop smiling as he talks to reporters all of a sudden very interested in this 6-4, 200-pound defenseman.
Outside the locker room, the arena is emptying as excited Colorado hockey fans make their way out into the November Denver night. They’re thrilled with the team’s 14-2 record in the past six weeks and excited to see how the next six months play out. Among those fans is Holden’s wife, Angela, and his son, Parker, who, like Holden, are pretty pleased with how things have gone the past few weeks.
A reporter asks Holden to describe his emotions after he saw his puck shot fly past the outstretched glove of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
“I’m happy that it’s out of the way,” he says humbly, “and hopefully I can score a few more. … I closed my eyes and got lucky.”
READ MORE >
PREGAME NOTES OF NOTE
* Roy was asked following today’s morning skate about the production of forward Jamie McGinn, who has three goals this season and six points. In response, he immediately flashed the type of fire and intensity that made him such a favorite teammate when he played.
“I could care less, to be honest with you because all I care is how hard [McGinn’s] playing,” Roy said. “He’s been playing well. Jamie’s in front of the net, does a good job—last game he had a few good chances. I’m confident it’s going to turn around pretty fast for him. He’s a great shooter, it’s just a matter of putting one [in the net.]”
* The franchise’s previous best 16-game season start came during the 1994-95 season when the Quebec Nordiques started 13-3-0.
* Jan Hejda has been a “plus” player in each of his last seven games, posting a +14 rating during the stretch. He is only the third Avalanche player in the last nine seasons to be “plus” in seven or more consecutive games, joining Cody McLeod (seven games, from Oct. 13 to Nov. 8, 2009) and Ian Laperriere (seven games, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, 2005).
* Hejda (+16 for the season) ranks third among all NHL players in plus-minus, trailing a pair of Ducks in Dustin Penner (+18) and Francois Beauchemin (+17).
* Paul Stastny enters tonight’s game in Carolina on a three-game point streak (2g/1a) and needs just one goal to tie Dale Hunter (142 goals) for eighth place on the Avalanche/Nordiques all-time goals list. Hunter (1980-87; 1998-99) had 140 goals in seven seasons with the Nordiques and two goals with the Avalanche during the 1998-99 season.