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Even at 6-0, Avs Know They Can Play Better

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

There has been a lot to be pleased with through the Colorado Avalanche's first six games of the season.

The club has received great goaltending from the duo of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere which has combined for a 1.00 goals-against average, has a plus-15 goal differential, has only allowed six goals and, maybe the most important stat, has yet to lose a game.

But despite being one of two undefeated teams in the NHL, the Avs players said they still want to get better and weren't satisfied with how they performed in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.

"We're trying to stay perfect here," center Matt Duchene said. "Last game, we didn't play our best so we need to have a little bit of a bounce-back game tonight."

Dallas outshot Colorado 41-26 in the contest and 35-16 in the final two periods. The Stars had good scoring chances throughout the game and ended up firing 68 total shots (including shots that missed or were blocked) compared to the Avalanche's 44, but Varlamov and his defense in front of him helped bail out the Avs and allowed them to squeak out the win.

"We feel last game we didn't play as well as we would like but still found a way to win," forward Alex Tanguay said. "We like to win. It's been fun so far, but we have a long way to go and a lot of work to put in. Certainly, we'll have to have our work boots tonight."

The evening's opponent will be a good measuring stick for the young Avs as they take on their old rival in the Detroit Red Wings, a club that has made the playoffs the past 22 seasons.

Despite the rivalry not being what it used to, both teams have plenty to play for. The Red Wings will be looking for their sixth win and fourth in a row. The Avalanche will be looking to fix the errors from Tuesday night and help get Patrick Roy sole possession of the NHL record for consecutive wins by a head coach to begin a career (he is currently tied with Mario Tremblay's 6-0 start in 1995-96).

Roy said he wants his team's focus to not be on going 7-0 but on their preparation for the Red Wings.

"We certainly want to focus on things that we can control, and what we can control is how we prepare ourselves tonight," Roy said. "How we are going to be focused. What kind of work habits are we going to have tonight on the ice? How we are going to forecheck them. How we are going to backcheck. These are the details that I would rather see our team thinking about than looking at the big picture (the result of the game)."

The Avalanche and the Red Wings are no longer conference rivals and will only play each other twice per season now that Detroit is in the Eastern Conference, but that doesn't mean tonight's matchup will have any less intensity.

"It's always exciting when we play these guys," Duchene said. "It's a great atmosphere. It's fun to wear that burgundy and blue against the Red Wings."


Matt Duchene seems to have left off where he was last season.

Duchene leads the Avalanche in goals (five) and is tied for the team scoring lead (seven points) heading into tonight's contest after scoring 43 points (17 goals and 26 assists) in 47 games last year.

Matt Duchene
Center  - COL
Goals: 5 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 7
Shots: 17 | +/-: 4
He scored two goals Tuesday against the Stars, with his second tally being the 200th NHL point of his career. At 22 years and 272 days, Duchene is the fourth-youngest player in franchise history to surpass the 200-point mark. Only Joe Sakic (21 years and 148 days), Michel Goulet (21 years and 337 days) and Mats Sundin (21 years and 348 days) reached the plateau quicker.

Duchene also carries a three-game goal streak (four goals) and a four-game point streak (four goals and two assists) into tonight's contest, and a goal tonight would match his career-long goal streak set twice before.

The forward has scored in five of the Avs' six games this season while centering a line with Ryan O'Reilly and Steve Downie.


-Semyon Varlamov is scheduled to get the start in net tonight for Colorado. He will likely face the Red Wings' Jonas Gustavsson on the other side of the ice while Jimmy Howard is out with a hand injury.

-Roy said Wednesday that he doesn't plan on making any changes to his lineup so expect Tyson Barrie, Marc-Andre Cliche and Nate Holden to be scratched.

-The Avalanche can tie the franchise record for the best start to a season with a win tonight. The 1985-86 Quebec Nordiques hold the record at 7-0. The 2013-14 squad already owns the best start in Avalanche history.

-Colorado’s six-game winning streak is the club’s longest since Dec. 10-19, 2010 (also six). The last time the Avalanche won seven straight games was Dec. 31, 2005 to Jan. 17, 2006, when they won eight in a row.

-The Avalanche and Red Wings will face off just twice this year as they compete in opposite conferences for the first time. The Avs will visit the Motor City on March 6.

-The Avs tonight are facing their fourth Eastern Conference opponent out of the first seven games. The Avs are 3-0-0 versus Eastern Conference teams this year, 0-0 at home and 3-0 on the road. Colorado is 16-4-1 against Eastern Conference opponents since the start of the 2011-12 season, 36-14-7 since 2009-10 and 64-34-7 since 2005-06

-Matt Duchene, PA Parenteau and Nathan MacKinnon are tied for the team scoring lead with seven points apiece.

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