Wasn’t defense supposed to be a problem for the 2013-14 Avalanche, the flaw the team would try to airbrush as best it could from the overall picture? The Avs would have to win every game 6-5, the critics chirped, their defense and goaltending too suspect to realistically count upon.
More than 10 percent through the season, only one NHL team has been stingier allowing goals than the Avs, who have allowed 12 in nine games. The Boston Bruins, entering Tuesday, had allowed 10 — but in two fewer games played.
Question is: Are the Avs just lucky so far with standing-on-their-heads goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and J.S. Giguere, or has the defense been better than anyone thought?
“Maybe a mix of both,” Avs coach Patrick Roy said after Monday’s 1-0 shutout of high-powered Pittsburgh. “But it hasn’t been a one-man thing. It’s been a 23-man thing for us. We’re back-checking hard, not just allowing lots of chances and having our goaltender do it all. I think our guys are clearing rebounds and communicating defensively. But certainly our goaltending has been outstanding.”