No one who knows anything about hockey could have guessed that after the 1st month of the NHL season, the Avalanche would be sitting atop the Western Conference. Even the most die hard of fans could see this coming. The Avs' 22 points is the most the Avalanche have put up in the month of October in their 14 year history. Yes, that also means that it is more than the 96 Cup team (15 pts) and the 01 Cup team (20 pts) had. The 20 points by the 00-01 team was the previous record for points in October.
Speaking of records, it would've been hard for the Avs to reach this great record without goalie Craig Anderson. Andy started all 14 games in the month so he is also 10-2-2 and is still yet to give up a soft goal. Obviously 10 wins in any month is a career high for him but it is also a team record edging out some guy named Patrick Roy.
It has been a team effort on the Avs part to get them to where they are currently sitting. Everyone is chipping in. Despite being benched in 2 games by Joe Sacco, Wojtek Wolski seems like he's finally starting to get it. He has been great in the last few games since his last benching. His 13 points are tied for 1st with Paul Stastny. The most surprising of contributions is coming from rookie Ryan O'Reilly. Tied for 2nd on the team with 11 points, he also sits 2nd overall in rookie scoring, 1 point behind Rangers rookie Michael Del Zotto.
One person who is bringing the team down (despite what the standings say) is Marek Svatos. He's got 2 goals, both of which came on power plays, and he is a team worst -7. Not only is his defense horrendous but he gets knocked off the puck too easily and gives away the puck to frequently. How Sacco has failed to bench this guy is beyond me but something tells me this will be Mr. Svatos' last season in Denver.
Just like the last few seasons, injuries have been a huge problem for the Avs. Throughout October, the Avs have lost Darcy Tucker, Cody McLeod, John Michael Liles, Peter Budaj, Matt Hendricks and most recently TJ Galiardi. Liles has already returned and Budaj, who had the swine flu, is also back with the team. Galiardi, who is a huge loss to the very good PK, is out 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury.
The Avs still have to work on some problems if they want to be taken seriously in the league. There are still issues with allowing the other teams to keep the puck in their end for long periods of time. They also have to start limiting the number of shots their opponents get on net. It's great that Andy is almost perfect everynight, but with the number of games it looks like he's going to get, he doesn't need to get that much work everynight.
Now that October is over, the Avs can look forward to a new month, November, that will see a few more home games than last month (7). The month gets kicked off tonight in Vancouver. Anderson will be making his 15 consecutive start for the Avs against former Av Andrew Raycroft since Luongo is out with a rib injury. Anderson shut the Nucks out in the 1st meeting October 3rd.