Shock & Avs

Shock-and-awe offense too much for Chicago

A friend of mine traveled to Colorado to attend the NHL game between Chicago and Colorado. He’s a serious Blackhawks fan.

I hope he at least got some frequent flyer miles for his trouble.

The Avalanche, powered by their new high-octane offense and getting a surprising shutout from young goaltender David Aebischer, rolled to a 5-0 win in their first game of the season. The Avs are going to score, score, and score this season. They have what may be the top two lines of offense in decades. Their defense is solid, although the loss of Greg deVries is going to hurt them over the course of the season unless Martin Skoula can step it up several notches. Their young goalies, Aebischer and Phil Suave, have the potential to be quite good, and they will benefit immensely from the fact that they will get a ton of offensive support.

However, all that is out the window come playoff time.

As NHL fans all know, the REAL season doesn’t start until the regular season is over. I’ve got faith in Aebischer and Suave, but I just can’t see one of them winning the Stanley Cup this year. The Avs have a history of picking up the final missing piece of their puzzle in the days before the trading deadline in March, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade for a veteran goaltender right before the end of the season.

I wrote last spring, after the Avs had been eliminated, that this year was probably the last “next year” for this group of players. I still think it is. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne will be gone next year, as will Peter Forsberg. And, whatever the new labor agreement turns out to be, teams will no longer be able to stockpile superstars. This is the last year of the NHL as we know it, and Colorado, Detroit, and Dallas (the Big Three West Conference powers) have one last chance to bring home a Cup with their current rosters.

Now or never.