Make no bones about it. The Colorado Avalanche secured a big win on Thursday night, defeating the 17-7-3 New York Rangers on their home ice by a score of 2-1. Colorado (11-14-1) remains in last place in the Central Division, but are winners of their last two games and four of their last six. Momentum is clearly on their side and they have to key players rounding into form, although the game still highlighted some weaknesses that have plagued Colorado for some time.

Following the game, the hosts of The Nosebleed Section on Mile High Sports AM 1340 had high praise for both Semyon Varlamov and Matt Duchene, the game’s Nos. 1 and 2 stars, respectively. Varlamov had 24 saves on the night and only surrendered a goal against a man-advantage in the final minute of the game when New York had pulled goalie Antti Raanta. Duchene scored the game-winning goal and logged 18:21 in ice time.

“Landeskog called Varlamov the best player on the ice tonight,” Dante DeMarco pointed out. That’s something that the Avs will need to happen with high frequency if they hope to climb back into playoff contention.

“[Head coach Patrick] Roy said the other day, ‘we needed Dutchy to turn around,’ and the next person that they needed to get coming around, to get into a streak, get into a flow of things was Varlamov,” said Chris O’Malley, who also reminded his co-hosts that just about a month ago they were asking the question, “Where is Matt Duchene?”

Duchene has certainly turned around his season and Varlamov looks to be regaining confidence with every win. But there were still causes for concern in Thursday night’s win.

As Chris DeHart-Reed pointed out, the team needs more consistency. Yes, they picked up a win, but they also had a season-low shot total with just 18 on the night. Their previous low came in a loss to Boston, with 22 shots. Colorado can’t expect Varlamov to have one-goal performances every night, and 18 shots on goal would require an otherworldly shooting percentage to win with so few opportunities to score.

DeMarco also saw more disconcerting play from defenseman Tyson Barrie. “He should be a situational player,” DeMarco believes. Barrie, an offensive-minded defenseman, has a bad habit of getting too deep into the offensive zone and not protecting his end of the ice. Varlamov prefers to work with open ice in front of him, but that’s no excuse for Barrie to get caught behind the puck in the defensive zone as he has often done this year and last.

Colorado held off a late push by New York and got another goal from newly acquired Chris Wagner, his third in five games. Wagner is +2 in nine games for Colorado since coming over from Anaheim on waivers.

Listen to the full conversation about the highs and lows from Thursday’s win in the podcast below…

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