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Teams off to surprisingly hot starts
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williamsones
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MessagePosté le: Jeu 24 Oct 2019, 17:06    Sujet du message:  Teams off to surprisingly hot starts   Marque ce message et les suivants dans ce sujet comme non lus 

Teams off to surprisingly hot starts
Note: Stats updated through games of Oct. 22.

Colorado Avalanche

There's been a lot to celebrate for the Avalanche this season. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
After the inspiring playoff run they went on last season, the Avalanche entered the 2019-20 season as arguably the most hyped team in the league. The only two primary reservations we had about them realizing those sky-high expectations were their ability to produce enough secondary scoring behind the Nathan MacKinnon-Gabriel Landeskog-Mikko Rantanen line, and how their unproven goaltending would be able to hold up behind that high-octane offense. So far, so good on both fronts.

The "New Guy" line of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi has been terrific in the early going, outscoring the opposition 6-3 at 5-on-5 and providing the Avalanche with the second forward unit they can confidently throw out there when their stars require a breather. They've already squeezed 10 combined goalies out of those three, and there should be plenty more to come. The third line hasn't really gotten going yet because of J.T. Compher's brief absence, but Tyson Jost's hat trick on the road against the Lightning was an encouraging sign that better days are ahead for that group as well. After what appeared to be a gruesome looking lower-body injury for Rantanen, the Avalanche will need that supporting cast to step up even more than was initially expected.

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The goaltending wasn't necessarily a concern as much as it was a question mark. Philipp Grubauer was terrific down the stretch last season and has performed well whenever he's gotten the opportunity, but this is also uncharted waters for him because he's never entered a season as the goalie who would start the majority of his team's games. After starting seven of Colorado's first nine games, he's on pace for 64 starts, which would nearly double his previous high of 33 (last season). If he does sputter at any point, his backup looks awfully interesting as a candidate for more action.

Pavel Francouz is a relative unknown in NHL circles considering that he's a 29-year-old who just started his first NHL game this month, but his track record suggests that was because of opportunity and not his ability. You never really know how to translate success in other leagues to the NHL because of the talent gap, but for goalies, the ability to stop the puck at every stop along the way is typically a good sign of future results. And Francouz has done just that regardless of where he's played:

.924 save percentage in 164 Czech League games

.945 save percentage in 83 KHL games

.918 save percentage in 46 AHL games

He's continued to show off those skills in his limited action thus far, posting a .949 save percentage in his four NHL appearances. His most recent performance against the high-powered Lightning was littered with jaw-dropping saves, as he stopped 44 of the 46 shots he faced. He looked every bit the part of an experienced goalie who's traveled the world and performed at a high level wherever he's landed, looking completely unfazed as the league's most devastating offense peppered him with high-danger shots from all over the ice. The team will still rely on Grubauer to do most of the heavy lifting, but it's quite a luxury to have a second option like Francouz on whom to fall back.
Patrick Kane Jersey
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Jonathan Quick Jersey
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