Colorado has come away with some huge victories, none bigger than defeating the Chicago Blackhawks while they were riding a 24-game point streak. The Avs also have defeated the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings as well as the revamped Minnesota Wild.
But Colorado has also had a handful of struggles. Countless players have been sidelined due to injuries including captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was missed for more than 10 games due to a concussion. Ryan O’Reilly wasn’t re-signed until well after the season started and it was clear that the Avs missed his offensive and defensive prowess.
Heading into the weekend, Colorado sits at the cellar of the Western Conference tied with the Calgary Flames with 24 points in 26 games. With just a couple more weeks until the postseason begins, let’s take a look at who Colorado’s biggest winners and losers are.
Most Valuable Player: Matt Duchene
Matt Duchene has been quite impressive this season, especially when Colorado didn’t have Landeskog or O’Reilly on the ice. He leads the Avs in goals and points and is tied for the most assists. He’s currently tied for 13th in the NHL with 28 points through 25 games.
Duchene has been very smart on both sides of the puck and has stepped up when his team needed him most. He doesn’t take dumb penalties and makes the most of opportunities when he’s presented with them. Remember when he scored the game-winning goal with just seconds left in overtime against the San Jose Sharks?
That’s what I’m talking about.
Duchene may not be the captain of Colorado, nor does he wear an “A” on his jersey, but he’s about as important as it gets for the Avs. Without Duchene on the ice, Colorado would be considerably worse—which is somewhat hard to imagine. There’s no doubt that he’s been the most valuable player on the ice for the Avs this season.
Least Valuable Player: David Jones
What a major disappointment David Jones has been in Colorado this season. Through 24 games, Jones has only put the puck in the net three times and has assisted on just four goals for a measly seven points. But that’s not the biggest detriment of his play. He has the worst plus-minus on the team at minus-11.
“It’s been a while now, where Jonesey has had some struggles. He needs to get his game going,” head coach Joe Sacco told Mike Chambers of The Denver Post. “He’s a big-bodied winger. He’s got to play physical. He’s got to win one-on-one puck battles. He’s got to get going, and I have to find a way to get him going. He needs to be a bigger part of our team, and he can be.”
Sacco's words came after he had to demote Jones to the third line. Jones just hasn’t played well altogether, and it’s about time that the coaching staff took action against him.
Jones hasn’t played like a top-six forward, so there’s no reason to keep him on either of the top two lines. Until he shows that he’s capable of producing at a high level, he deserves all the criticism he’s gotten.
Best Newcomer: P.A. Parenteau
What a bargain P.A. Parenteau has been for Colorado. By the slimmest of margins, Duchene has been better. But don’t get me wrong, because Parenteau couldn’t be any better. He’s scored 11 goals and currently has 16 assists through 26 games. His 27 points are the second-most on Colorado and tied for the 16th-most in the NHL.
It’s safe to say that Parenteau’s four-year, $16 million deal that he signed over the offseason is already playing dividends, despite Colorado’s early season struggles. He and Duchene have gelled perfectly, and they are already one of the most dynamic pair of linemates in hockey.
The best part about Parenteau’s game thus far is that he’s been consistent and dependable. He’s playing on Colorado’s top lines and has been effective on the power play. Colorado hasn’t been anything special when on the man-advantage, but he’s scored three power-play goals this year. If Parenteau keeps this high level of play up, it’ll be one of the best decision the Avs have ever made.