Although we’re just six games into an 82-game NHL season, it’s hard not to get excited about the Colorado Avalanche. The team of maturing young guns is playing very well, and wrapping up a five-game East Coast road trip with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers last night is evidence. The Avs’ high-energy play and quality starting goal-tending, along with the explosive play of winger Chris Stewart, prove they’re serious about competing in the division this year (recap via Mile High Hockey).

Much like an early-season road trip sparked a season-long run to the playoffs last year, the Avs’ recent trip could be a catalyst for great hockey in Colorado this year, writes the Philadelphia Daily News. Avs goalie Craig Anderson has a theory about why the team plays so well together. “We’ve got a young bunch of guys that like to hang out together [off the ice],” Anderson explains. “This really gives us an opportunity to bond as a team….When you’re better friends and better teammates off the ice, it shows on the ice.”

The win was the Avs’ third in five games, giving the team four wins on the season and sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division (via The Avs’ eight points so far are three better than perennial powerhouse Vancouver’s total, and any points in the bank early in the year pay big dividends at the end of the season.