Avs the Rodney Dangerfield of NHL

As the NHL grinds its way through the first period of the season, the Colorado Avalanche continue to play excellent hockey, yet they receive very little, if any, respect outside the state of Colorado. Why is this?

They continue to pace the Northwest Division by three points as of this writing, but the Flames get more love on a national level. (Note to John Buccigross: the Avs should be in your Power Five; the Flames don't even lead their division (see above) and they're in?! Wow.). The Avs rank second in the Western Conference with 26 points, two points behind the white-hot San Jose Sharks. Goalie Craig Anderson ranks third in the league in save percentage (.929), is tied for first in wins (11), and ranks second in shutouts (2). But all anyone continues to talk about is the rebirth of Evgeni Nabokov or Rayn Miller's gaudy goals against average. All of this from the fourth-youngest team in the league.

Perhaps the perceived lack of belief in this year's model stems from the fact that there is no superstar, or star, for that matter. Case in point: their best known player, arguably, is a 23-year-old toothless (literally) center named Paul Stastny. Does that name ring a bell for ya? I didn't think so. Other "name-brand" players on the team include goalie Craig Anderson, who before this year was a career backup; winger Milan Hejduk and D-man Adam Foote's best days are, most likely, behind them; and Darcy Tucker, you may recall, made news earlier this season when he was on the receiving end of a headfirst check from behind into the glass by Carolina Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu. Outside of these, ahem, recognizable names, who are these guys? A bunch of rookies, grinders, muckers, and lunchpail TEAM guys that are playing the game how it was meant to be played. Stay tuned, and watch them grow as the season progresses.

Granted, there is still a lot of season left to be played and there's a chance that the Avs will melt like spring snow, but let's give them some props for the job they're doing right now.

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