You know winter is around the corner with the onset of the NHL season, and although it’s just one day into fall, the Colorado Avalanche kicked off their 2010-11 campaign yesterday with a quality 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, proving that the Avs’ unexpected return to relevance last season wasn’t a flash in the pan. David Jones and Luke Walker each scored a goal in the second period just 31 seconds apart, notes The Denver Post.

“They out-shot us, but I think we played pretty well for our first exhibition game as a team,” Jones says.

The game wasn’t without its hiccups—neither team could score a power-play goal—but the Avalanche are already looking to make another playoff run this season. Last year was the first without future Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic, and many critics believed the team would repeat as the worst in the league’s Western Conference. Led by a group of young players like Matt Duchene and TJ Galiardi, and the steady goal tending of Craig Anderson, the team finished second in the Northwestern Division, with 95 points, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the San Jose Sharks.

Some pundits (like The Sports Network) worry that the Avs didn’t do enough in the off-season to upgrade the team, but Bleacher Report predicts Colorado will be competitive, writing that if they miss the playoffs, it will be by three points or less.