Dumped out of the second round of the playoffs for the past two seasons when they have been fancied to go close, the Colorado Avalanche is back for more this season. Starting the new campaign as favorites to lift the Stanley Cup, so far this season, after a slow start, they are showing exactly why sportsbooks have given them that tag.
As of January 28th, the Avalanche sit as +450 favorites to lift the Stanley Cup this season with the FanDuel online sportsbook. This puts them ahead of the current back-to-back champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are behind them at +700 with the same sportsbook. Behind these two, look out for the likes of the Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs, who are looking to show what they can do over the coming weeks to throw their hat into contention.
Going back to the Avalanche, what is it about their team that makes them favorites, and why should the rest of the NHL be scared of what they are capable of?
Finding a Way to Win
The best teams don’t always rely on skill to win games, they find ways to win when they are not at their best, and when things don’t go their way. In the past, the Avalanche have had all the skills they need, but perhaps lacked the mental attitude and right character to go all the way.
The decision to re-sign captain Gabriel Landeskog in the summer was a big one and one that didn’t look like it was happening at one point. However, it did, and he is the leader on this team and has seemingly found the right formula to drive his teammates forward.
🚨SIGNING ALERT🚨: Avalanche sign F Gabriel Landeskog to an eight-year, $56 million contract…
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) July 28, 2021
The Avalanche haven’t improved dramatically in terms of skill this season, but what we are seeing from them is great strides with their mental attributes, and the ability to get the job done. It is this that was lacking and could be what takes them over the line this season.
Elite Defensive Scoring
Perhaps the one thing that separates the Avalanche from everyone else in this league is the fact that they have a group of defensive players that excel when it comes to scoring. When their defensive players are on with the top line, they have five scoring threats. When playing with the third and fourth line guys, they offer a scoring threat that wouldn’t normally be there.
Led by Cale Makar, who signed a big-money deal in the summer to stay with this club for the future, the Avalanche can explode from the back end like no other team. This is so difficult to defend against, they come at you with wave after wave of attack, and on some occasions, all five players on the ice are doing the attacking.
With scoring from the backend, the Avs have something special, and when you combine that with the mental strength they now have, this could be what takes them forward to a first cup in 21 years.