The Colorado Avalanche are not just battling for top spot in the West Division and overall NHL standings. The Avalanche are chasing their own history.
Heading into Sunday's road clash with the cellar-dwelling Anaheim Ducks, the Avalanche boast a 27-9-4 record, which equals their best 40-game start in franchise history. The 58 points amassed is equal to the 26-8-6 mark the Avalanche collected in the Stanley Cup-winning 2000-01 season and the 27-9-4 mark of 1994-95, the final season the franchise was based in Quebec City.
With that level of play, it's no wonder the Avalanche have made a couple of key additions with Monday's trade deadline looming. After acquiring defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, the Avalanche reeled in goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
With Pavel Francouz on the injured list, Colorado has been leaning heavily on Philipp Grubauer, having acquired Jonas Johansson from Buffalo a few weeks ago.
"I think it sends a pretty strong message that (general manager Joe Sakic) obviously believes in this group and that we are trying to make a run at this thing," captain Gabe Landeskog said.
"Sometimes it doesn't need to be moves at the deadline that sends that message. It's just conversations we've had and looking at our roster and looking at the team we have. We know this is a really good year for us and a really good opportunity for us."
The Avalanche, who claimed a 2-0 win over Anaheim on Friday and are 5-1-1 this season against the Ducks, have won six of seven games and are on a 14-1-2 roll. The acquisitions are a boost, and Dubnyk solidifies their goaltending, which was a question mark.
"A guy that's sorta been there at this time of year is real important," coach Jared Bednar said. "We saw that even last year out of (Michael Hutchinson) winning playoff games for us. We like the addition; we have time to integrate him into our system."
Anaheim, which sits third from the bottom in the league standings and playing out the string, is destined to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season for just the third time in franchise history. Further changes are coming in the Ducks' rebuild, among them the potential that captain Ryan Getzlaf may waive his no-movement clause and accept a trade.
Getzlaf, who has missed the past three games due to an upper-body injury, is the franchise leader in games played and second to only Teemu Selanne for points. Getzlaf, a pending unrestricted free agent, has 980 career points with Anaheim, eight fewer than Selanne.
The Ducks have just three wins in their past 10 games (3-6-1), but to their credit are keeping their games close. For example, Friday's loss was a 1-0 game until a last-minute empty-netter.
"I was impressed with our effort and attention to detail," coach Dallas Eakins said. "But still, we'd like to get on the other side of that game."
There are not many positives with the Ducks this season, but one is goaltender John Gibson, who stopped 33 shots last game. He's allowed only one goal in three of his past four starts.
"He quietly went about his business," Eakins said of Gibson. "When needed, he was there to answer the bell."
--Field Level Media