The celebration on opening night was special for the Colorado Avalanche, but they found out 24 hours later that winning a title means getting every opponent’s best game.
Colorado won convincingly in its season opener, which included a banner-raising event and the debut of goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, but then host Calgary took it to the defending champs the next night.
The Avalanche have had a few days to brush off that 5-3 loss to the Flames and next will take on Central Division rival Minnesota. The Wild are 0-2 amid a four-game homestand to open their season.
Colorado and Minnesota developed a rivalry over the past 20 years that made for some good playoff matchups, but the Wild have not played up to the same level as the Avalanche. They have allowed seven goals in each of their losses.
Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury heard boos when he was pulled after allowing four goals in Saturday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings. In two games, Fleury has an 8.37 goals-against average and just a .776 save percentage.
“I don’t blame them. I’d boo myself,” Fleury said of the home crowd. “I was not good. I feel bad for the fans. I feel bad for my teammates. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to step up and give our team a chance to win. There’s some tough goals. A few of them. Still, I’ve got to make some saves.”
Fleury could serve as the backup to Filip Gustavsson against Colorado, but things won’t turn around if the defense can’t play better in front of the goaltenders.
“You can’t expect to win games when you let in 14 goals in two games,” Mats Zuccarello said.
Colorado has shown it can score in its first two games despite not having captain Gabriel Landeskog healthy. Landeskog, who has a lower-body injury, could be out an extended period, as could fourth-line forward Darren Helm (abdomen).
But the Avalanche have plenty of depth and are settled in at goaltender. Georgiev gave up just two goals in his first game but Pavel Francouz, who played well in relief during the playoffs, wasn’t as sharp in the loss at Calgary.
One of Colorado’s newest members, center Evan Rodrigues, had a tough night against the Flames. He logged 18:29 of ice time but finished pointless for the second straight game while recording a minus-3.
Rodrigues was signed after the Avalanche didn’t keep free agent Nazem Kadri, and they hope he can add some secondary scoring and contribute on the second power-play unit. Rodrigues has played with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so he knows how to take advantage of being on the ice with star players.
He also knows how to find ways to score.
“Usually things open up when you start shooting,” Rodrigues said. “The guys are reacting to a shot. That’s how they get out of position. That’s how the seams kind of open.”
–Field Level Media