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Overlooked Avs pack a punch this season

Bringing It HomeJoelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

With the Rockies on a history-making roll and the Broncos on an embarrassing lull, the Avalanche and the start of the NHL season has kinda fallen by the wayside in Colorado.While the attention should be on the Rockies, who have brought Colorado together and really have turned it into a purple-mountain majesty, the Avs are also looking pretty good.Five games into the season, the Avs have already proven they’ve got the ability to score, and score some more. Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny already have hat tricks, both at home, where the Avs are 3-0. Milan Hejduk already has five goals, Stastny has five goals to go with five assists. Things are looking good. The most exciting two guys are Sakic and Stastny.At 1,594 career points, Sakic is the active-player leader. The mark also puts him at eighth all-time. As Sakic continues to defy his climbing age, he is fully capable of having another 100-point season. The future Hall of Famer will need all the points he can get to stay ahead of Stastny, who could put up numbers matching Sakic’s. The guy is that good.With a good pool of young talent, like Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos, mixed in with vets Hejduk and Andrew Brunette, as well as newcomer Ryan Smyth, the offense is a nightmare for opposing teams. On defense, Brett Clark and John-Michael Liles return to anchor the defense, which may lack size, but is speedy enough to make up for it. All in all, I think we can expect great things from the Avalanche this year. The stacked lineup is like the all-star teams the Avs had in 1996 and 2001.We have been pretty spoiled here in Colorado since the Avs came in 1996, winning a Stanley Cup and hockey fans’ hearts immediately. It is almost expected they will make the playoffs every year, and it felt weird when they didn’t last year and in 2005. After all, they made the trip the first nine seasons after moving from Quebec.Of course, no team is perfect and the Avs’ special teams needs to figure some things out. It’s time for Jose Theodore, who will be rejoining the team this week after knee surgery in August, to finally deliver and step up as the starting goalie. Peter Budaj is good at times but too inconsistent to take the full-time job.There are some good teams in the Western Conference, but I am predicting the Avs will win the Northwestern Division and vie for the Western Conference title. And who knows, maybe even bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Colorado.Contact Joelle Milholm: 384-9124jmilholm@postindependent.com


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