So far, this season has gone even better than expected for Colorado Avalanche GM Greg Sherman. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have been excellent in goal, and free agent signings Jan Hejda, Chuck Kobasew, Shane O'Brien, and Joakim Lindstrom have all been positive contributors towards the Avalanche's torrid start to the year.
After a 5-0 road trip (where the Avalanche gained 10 of a possible 10 points in the standings en route to first place in the Northwest Division), Colorado returns to the Pepsi Center for only the second time this year.*
*Yes, this is a rough beginning schedule for Colorado. It could be worse; the New York Rangers won't even have their home opener until October 27.
The opponent is the always dangerous Chicago Blackhawks. Despite a disappointing 2010-2011 season, the Blackhawks still have retained many of the star players that won the Cup in 2010. Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp is a great stable of talented forwards. They are supported by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook -- one of the top two-way defensive pairings in all of hockey.
Surprisingly, it's actually unheralded forward Dave Bolland who has been the early offensive star for Chicago with four goals in just four games played. The former second round pick has never been a major threat with a career high 47 points in 2009, but he has found some early season success.
Corey Crawford signed a three year contract extension this past offseason and appears to be the goalie of the future in Chicago. With a 1.98 GAA through four starts, he's looking like a solid investment.
Semyon Varlamov will start in net for Colorado after getting almost a week off. He has not played since October 15 against Montreal.
The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT.
For more on this game, follow our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey or our Blackhawks blog Second City Hockey.