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Craig Anderson has been a revalation for the Avalanche this season. The seven-year NHL veteran sports a 11-4-2 record so far. ((Doug Pensinger/Getty Images))

The secret is out. The Colorado Avalanche are the surprise of the 2009-10 NHL season.

After not qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, the Avalanche have exploded out of the gate with 12-4-2 record through Monday.

Behind the stingy play of bargain goalie Craig Anderson, a well-balanced attack and an over-achieving rookie class, the Avalanche find themselves tied with San Jose for first place in the Western Conference.

So what's behind it all?

Is it new bench boss Joe Sacco's tactics? Adam Foote's leadership? Paul Stastny's resurgence? Or is it merely having a healthy roster?

Will rookies Ryan O'Reilly, who leads all first-year players in points and plus-minus, and Matt Duchene continue to have an impact as the season grows older?

We discussed those topics and more with Avs Talk blogger Shane Giroux.