Dec 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) is pursued by Colorado Avalanche right wing Marc-Andre Cliche (24) in the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Enemy Lines

The Chicago Blackhawks are in arguably the toughest division in the NHL with their Central Division rivals being their harshest and most frequent competitors. The Colorado Avalanche is a team that most Blackhawks fans would put towards the top of the Western Conference an named as one of the Blackhawks top contenders yet they sit towards the bottom after playing 5 games.

The Avalanche started off slow with two straight shutout losses to the Minnesota Wild and haven’t picked up any speed yet. They recovered briefly with a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins to kick off a 4 game road trip, but fizzled out with a 3-2 overtime loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 5-3 loss against the Ottawa Senators. They wrap up the road trip tonight in Montreal before finally heading back to Colorado.

The Avalanche’s somewhat shaky start is surprising since they were one of the better teams in the league at the end of last season and things were looking up for the franchise. They consistently gave the Blackhawks a hard time winning 4 out of 5 games last season but ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs against the Minnesota Wild.

This early in the season, it is still easy to recover from a stumble out of the gate, and the Avalanche have had a few stumbles. They’ve earned 3 out of 10 points and already have goaltending issues. Starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov is on injured reserve …read more