NHL Betting: Three Keys To Success for the Colorado Avalanche in 2013-14

      The Colorado Avalanche has dipped back into its past and put a former hero behind the bench. When the Montreal Canadiens hired former player Toe Blake as its coach, it turned out to be one of the most brilliant moves in NHL history. But after only one game behind the bench, the Colorado Avalanche are starting to realize that maybe giving former goaltender Patrick Roy the reigns to the team was not the best decision. It is still early in his NHL coaching career, but Patrick Roy has shown that he still brings that fire of his to the ice. The only question is whether the fire will translate to wins.

2014 Stanley Cup Odds: 40/1

Key #1: Patrick Roy must be the team's leader.

In his first game as an NHL head coach, Patrick Roy nearly pushed a pane of protective glass onto Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. After the game, Roy was very matter-of-fact about the incident and explained why he was so angry. Ever since John Tortorella and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, there has been an undercurrent of emotional coaches making their way to the NHL. Patrick Roy was a great goaltender, but if he is going to lead this young Colorado team to a Stanley Cup victory, then he needs to get his emotions under control and focus on coaching his young team.

Key #2: Nathan MacKinnon needs to play smarter.
Colorado had the first pick in the 2013 draft and chose center Nathan MacKinnon. In his first real game as a pro, MacKinnon had two assists and took a penalty. But it was the way he played that should concern Avalanche fans. MacKinnon is a six-foot tall kid that weights around 180 pounds. He is not a bruiser, but he plays like one. MacKinnon should be admired for his determination, but he also needs to learn how to play in the NHL. A critical key to the success of the Avalanche is making sure that Nathan MacKinnon does not injure himself while still trying to figure out his boundaries in the NHL.

Key #3: Semyon Varlamov needs a break-out year.

When the Avalanche lost goaltender Craig Anderson, they wanted to bring in a young goalie that had some experience. They also wanted that goalie to have an upside to him. The Avalanche brought in former Washington Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov and have been patiently waiting for him to have a break-out year. In his three seasons with Colorado, Varlamov has a combined record of 38-45. If the Avalanche is going to make waves in the NHL this season, then it needs this to be Varlamov's break-out season. The presence of Patrick Roy should help Varlamov, but Varlamov also has to know that his leash is very short this season and his window of opportunity is closing.

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