Judging by their early play, the Colorado Avalanche seem to have quickly put the misery of last season behind them. How they fare over the next two weeks could further reinforce that point.
The Avalanche look to remain undefeated when they open a season-high seven-game road trip Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.
After finishing with a Western Conference-low 69 points last season, Colorado (2-0-0) has played well out of the gate thanks to a balanced offense and strong goaltending.
Wojtek Wolski(notes) and Paul Stastny(notes) each had a goal with an assist and Craig Anderson(notes) stopped 35 shots for his eighth career shutout in the Avalanche’s 3-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday.
“It’s only two games, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” said first-year Avalanche coach Joe Sacco, whose club has outscored San Jose and the Canucks 8-2 through the first two contests.
With Stastny and recently-retired star Joe Sakic(notes) injured most of last season, the Avalanche recorded an NHL-low 190 goals in finishing with its fewest wins (32) since the franchise moved to Denver prior to the 1995-96 season.
Already, the line of Wolski, Stastny and Milan Hejduk(notes) has combined for four goals and seven assists. Wolski has a team-leading three goals and six with five assists in 13 games against Nashville.
“They’re providing a lot of offense,” Sacco said of his top line. “We expect them to produce for us offensively.”
Anderson, meanwhile, is enjoying a strong start as the Avalanche’s No. 1 goaltender. A backup his previous six seasons with Chicago and Florida, Anderson has stopped 73 of 75 shots through two games.
“He’s a good goalie, very good goalie - underrated,” said Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo(notes), a former teammate of Anderson with the Panthers. “If you want to get goals on him you’ve got to get more traffic in front of him.”
Anderson is 2-2-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average against Nashville, the first stop on a two-week road swing that could tell a lot about how good the Avalanche might be this season. Colorado was 14-24-3 away from home in 2008-09, but 3-1-0 overall against the Predators last season.
Looking for a third straight home-opening victory, the Predators are coming of a 3-2 shootout win at Dallas in its season opener Saturday.
Jason Arnott(notes) had a goal with an assist and rookie Mike Santorelli(notes) scored the winner in the fifth round of the shootout. Arnott matched a career high with 33 goals last season and has 19 all-time versus Colorado.
The Predators hope to have last season’s leading scorer J.P. Dumont(notes) back after he left Saturday’s contest when he went headfirst into the boards following a hit from Dallas’ Stephane Robidas(notes).
Dumont has six goals and 14 assists in 22 games against Colorado.