Ramblings: Bern-ing Up! (Jan 23)

steve laidlaw

2018-01-22

 

10 in a row for the Avalanche! TEN!

Jonathan Bernier has been in net for nine of those and is on an astronomical roll. I still want to see what happens to his numbers when this team’s streak finally ends, but he has been awfully useful for fantasy owners. There’s also the matter of Semyon Varlamov’s return, which isn’t expected until after the All-Star break. Even if Bernier keeps bringing the heat, Varlamov is likely to eventually take over the crease.

We’ve also seen Bernier get wildly hot only to collapse, the most recent example coming last spring. If we’re talking about goalies you’ll want come March/April, I wouldn’t count on him being a strong option, but ride this as long as it lasts.

Nathan MacKinnon had scored in every game of Colorado’s winning streak until last night. He has 19 points on the 42 goals they’ve scored in this stretch, basically accounting for half of the Avalanche’s offense.

Erik Johnson is up to 18 points in 33 games since the start of November, which coincides with when Gabriel Landeskog joined MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen to form that formidable top line, but also coincides with the departure of Matt Duchene. MacKinnon seemed to indicate that Duchene’s exodus has been a catalyst:

Asked if the culture of the team had improved after Duchene was traded to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-way trade that included the Nashville Predators on Nov. 5, MacKinnon said: "It did a lot."

"There's nothing wrong with [Duchene] wanting to leave," MacKinnon said after the Avalanche had their morning skate at Air Canada Centre. "I think it's fair. He's eight, nine years in this League and it wasn't like a crazy breakup or anything. He went about it really good this season. But obviously we knew he wanted to leave.

"Now we have everybody here that wants to be here, which is great. If [Duchene] was here I'd think we'd be in a good spot as well. He's a really good player."

That seems less an indictment of Duchene than of the situation. And it’s worth asking whether Duchene’s desire to leave came before or after the team tried to trade him. Whatever the case, this Avalanche team offers plenty of lessons when contrasting their last two seasons: the importance of giving a coach a full training camp, the importance of dressing room harmony, importance of timing and leverage in trades, necessity for patience with youth, the value of team speed, etc.

*

Duchene, by the way, scored a pretty goal last night, the lone goal for Ottawa: