Colorado Avalanche: Predicting the Lines and Defensive Pairings

Kevin GoffContributor IJuly 31, 2012

Colorado Avalanche: Predicting the Lines and Defensive Pairings

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    The Colorado Avalanche will have a slightly different look at the start of the 2012-2013 season, but a large portion of this team remains from last year.

    The additions of Greg Zanon, John Mitchell and P.A. Parenteau will make the Avalanche into a better team.

    While the core of this team remains, those additions will likely shuffle the lines up for the next season.

Line 1: Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, P.A. Parenteau

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    Matt Duchene had a forgettable year last season, due largely to the fact that he was injured for a large portion of the second half.

    Count on Duchene to come out in training camp as a man possessed. He will be faster and stronger, as he has spent his offseason working strength training with Sidney Crosby and his trainer.

    Gabriel Landeskog will have a big second year in the NHL and is the type of player that will have chemistry with whoever is on his line.

    P.A. Parenteau is the perfect third player on this line and complements the styles of the other two perfectly.

    Landeskog is the power forward that will be strong in front of the net and down low, cleaning up and scoring some garbage goals.

    With his great play-making skills and sniper's shot, Duchene will have more space thanks to the attention paid to Landeskog.

    Parenteau is a dogged worker that is strong down low, has a nose for the net and a great set of passing hands that will set up his other two linemates.

    This line, when it begins to click, will become a dominant one.

Line 2: Jamie McGinn, Paul Stastny, David Jones

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    Paul Stastny continues to do nothing but produce for the Avalanche, once again being in the top two players in scoring. The only year Stastny wasn't in the top three in team scoring was the season where he missed half of the year due to an injury.

    David Jones plays his best hockey when he is on the same line as Paul Stastny, and that needs to continue.

    The missing link to this line was discovered at the trade deadline last year, when the Avalanche acquired Jamie McGinn. It took only two games for this line to ignite and start scoring.

    It should be very exciting to see what this line does together for a full season.

Line 3: Milan Hejduk, Ryan O'Reilly, Steve Downie

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    This line might be subject to the most scrutiny due to the fact that Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog had such great chemistry the year before.

    Ryan O'Reilly is the type of player that will have chemistry with anybody because of the way he plays the game. He's always in the right spots, communicates well with his linemates and he works his butt off during every second that he is on the ice.

    He showed good chemistry with Milan Hejduk and Steve Downie during stretches throughout the season as well, so this line shouldn't have too much trouble working out either.

    Count on this line to be the one that takes on the opponent's top lines and also to put together some strong offensive numbers of their own.

    One of the benefits that the Avalanche have is that their first three lines are all able to play equal amounts of ice time without giving up anything on either the offensive or defensive sides of the ice.

Line 4: Cody McLeod, John Mitchell, Mark Olver

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    With the departure of Jay McClement, the Avalanche needed to find a replacement to handle their defensive zone faceoffs and penalty killing. John Mitchell is a perfect solution.

    Cody McLeod remains in the lineup and will fill his same role of the fourth line enforcer that can occasionally chip in with some points and a great momentum-changing hit.

    Mark Olver will make this squad with his incredibly tenacious play that goes all the way to each whistle, and sometimes after.

    He proved to be a very effective pest down the stretch of the season as well and can end up getting his team on the power play more often.

Defense Pair 1: Erik Johnson and Shane O'Brien

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    Erik Johnson has blossomed into the defender that the Avalanche hoped he would when they traded for him a little over a year ago.

    He brings strong defense and excellent offense with the ability to play in all situations.

    Shane O'Brien is a solid partner that does occasionally try to do too much, but playing with Johnson will probably be able to fall into a bit more of a defensive mode.

    O'Brien's presence will also give the line a meanness that a top pairing should possess.

Defense Pair 2: Jan Hejda and Ryan O'Byrne

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    Jan Hejda struggled for a good portion of the season, but really fell into a great pairing when he partnered with Ryan O'Byrne.

    There's a great size to this pairing as Hejda is the smaller of the two players at 6'4", and this strength is great to have when it comes to protecting their goalie.

    These guys really had great chemistry last season and should continue to play together.

Defense Pair 3: Greg Zanon and Ryan Wilson

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    Ryan Wilson could play on any of these three pairings, but will probably end up in the same role that he has played over the past few seasons.

    Wilson plays a very solid stay-at-home game and adds in some great passing as well. Not to mention, Wilson is capable of laying a game-changing hit on his opponents.

    Zanon is really the odd character in this lineup right now, but he is a strong shot-blocker with the ability to play a strong physical game as well.

    This is really the only pairing I'm not sure about.

Healthy Scratches: Matt Hunwick and Chuck Kobasew

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    Matt Hunwick and Chuck Kobasew were both regulars in the press box last season and this season shouldn't be any different.

    Kobasew just doesn't really seem to fit the system, but has been a hard worker when he hasn't been a regular in the lineup.

    Matt Hunwick has great speed and definitely improved his play last year, but he isn't a guy that should be a regular in this system.

    He works really hard and keeps a good attitude though, which is likely the reason why the team kept him around.

    This is a very solid lineup for the Avalanche.