Tonight after a long lock-out the NHL returns to action. It’s been a while since the L.A. Kings ran through the Playoff’s with a 16-4 record to win their first Stanley Cup. This season the NHL will play a 48 game schedule and teams will only play conference games, so each point is huge.

The Colorado Avalanche will start the season on the road in Minnesota against the Wild. This will be the first look at a very young team that didn’t make many changes in the long off-season.

• May 18: Re-signed RW Milan Hejduk.
• June 4: Re-signed LW Cody McLeod.
• June 7: Re-signed D Matt Hunwick and RW David Jones.
• June 14: Named David Quinn assistant coach.
• June 23: Re-signed C Matt Duchene.
• June 25: Re-signed D Ryan Wilson.
• June 26: Re-signed D Shane O'Brien.
• June 29: Re-signed RW Steve Downie.
• July 1: Signed RW P.A. Parenteau, C John Mitchell and D Greg Zanon.
• July 3: Re-signed D Erik Johnson.
• July 13: Re-signed LW Jamie McGinn and C Mark Olver.
• Aug. 13: Re-signed G Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The Avalanche do have some questions. The 24 year old Russian Varlamov was OK in goal but he was not great and Avs fans expect great in goal. He will need to progress this year, his GAA was 2.59 and his save percentage was .913, both of those numbers will need to be better. 

Matt Duchene will need to bounce back this season, after two very good seasons last year he fell off and will need to play well to help this team.

The other big question to me is the defense. Eric Johnson, Jan Hejda, Matt Hunwick, Shane O’Brien, Ryan O’Byrne and Ryan Wilson may not jump off the page at you, but if they can play some steady hockey the Avalanche could make the playoffs and as L.A. showed last season if you make the playoffs anything could happen.