It is very hard to repeat as champions in any professional sport.
In the National Football League and Major League Baseball, it has been two decades (or more) since a team won back-to-back titles. In the National Basketball Association, the Golden State Warriors did it in 2017 and 2018, with the Miami Heat (2012 and 2013) and Los Angeles Lakers (2009 and 2010) also accomplishing the feat.
But in the National Hockey League, where you would think it would be TOUGHER to string together multiple titles, the Colorado Avalanche come into the 2022-23 season as a prohibitive favorite (+450 odds, with Toronto the next closest at +900) to do just that. If the Avs can win another title, it would be the third time in eight seasons a team went back-to-back: Pittsburgh (2016 and 2017) and Tampa Bay (2020 and 2021) most recently did it, with Colorado ending the Lightning’s run in June.
How hard will it be for the Avalanche to get out of the Western Conference this season, let alone win another cup? Al Morganti, who was recently elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, had a look at the landscape of the NHL ahead of the 2022-23 puck drop, and thinks Colorado will get some challenges from all fronts.
“It is tough out there, Morganti told onlinecasino.ca. “St. Louis is a solid team, and Chicago is going to be at the other end. Where is Patrick Kane going to end up at the end of the year? So there is all kinds of movement that could take place out there, and you are all chasing Colorado.
“I don’t know if there is going to be a real surprise. But people could be surprised that Calgary could be better than they were last year, despite a couple of guys moving on. I really like the moves they made. The deals they made to bring in players were very good. Jonathan Huberdeau can score some goals. MacKenzie Weeger I have always thought is an underrated defender, and a really terrific defenseman. I think they made some really great moves out there, because they were forced to. Some people will say they moved sideways a little bit, but there is going to be a determination there. But boy, when you have to try to knock off the kings in Colorado, it is going to be tough.
It took the Avalanche three years, with this current squad of players, to get to the NHL summit. While that was difficult, staying at the top of the mountain might be even tougher.
“Just ask Colorado what it takes to get through there” Morganti said. “I thought St. Louis outplayed them one game, but it is tough for them to match up. They are a heavy team, and they are going to play a heavy game. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blues get reborn. They have a very good coach, Craig Berube. I think he will have them going.
“It is so hard to judge early in hockey. You have moves that are made at the trade deadline and everything that goes on earlier. But coming in, you are absolutely right, the fight is going to take place, it is such a tangled web of very good teams. That is why it is so hard when you try to put odds on anything. It is almost impossible. It is such a bizarre sport to begin with in terms of putting any kind of odds on a game, nevermind a season, when you look at the weight that goes to a goaltender. Which goaltender is going to completely exceed expectations, and have you saying “Where did that come from? How did that happen?”
“Which team is going to be the team that is going to shock everyone? I think Anaheim has a slight chance. But when you are just loaded in terms of talent at the top of the divisions, that is a hard, hard, mountain to climb out West.
“I do like Colorado, because it took them so long to get to that top, because they went through so much. In addition to winning it last year, I think a lot of what they went through previously in not being able to get through the first two rounds, that lesson will stay with them.”