The Colorado Avalanche have played every team in the Central Division in the early part of this season. Unfortunately, they can’t hang with the competition.
The Colorado Avalanche have had the most difficult schedule to start the season out of any of the NHL teams. That’s my humble opinion.
Out of the 11 games they have played so far this season, nine of them have come against opponents that made the playoffs last season.
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And, seven of those nine games have come against opponents that made the second round of the playoffs last season. Furthermore, the combined record of the opponents in their first 11 games is currently 66-49-16.
Oh, and did I mention that they have already played every team in their division, often regarded as the most difficult division in hockey?
It’s safe to say that this has not been an easy schedule for the Avalanche to start the season. They’ve not only played against the top teams in the East already, but they’ve already faced their entire division as well.
This schedule could have dramatically worked in the favor of the Colorado Avalanche if they had showed well against the division, but that didn’t happen. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say right now that the Avs are the worst team in the Central Division.
They’re only one point ahead of the Nashville Predators for the bottom place in the division right now. The Avs also lost handedly to the Predators, and have the worst record within the division.
So, let’s take a quick look at each game.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. Dallas Stars
The Colorado Avalanche started their season strong against the Stars, notching six goals on 33 shots, and holding Dallas to 28 shots. Still, they allowed five goals on those 28 shots, and struggled to hold onto the lead in the third after going up 5-2 in the second period.
It was a good start to the season nonetheless, especially with new systems, a new coach, and some new faces on the roster.
But, this was a different time in Avalanche territory, a time when the team was 3-1 through their first four games, and things looked bright. However, by the time they faced the next division opponent, the Avs were 3-2, and the free-fall had started.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. Winnipeg Jets
It’s fair to give the Avalanche a bit of a break in this game as they were coming off of a five day break and were a bit rusty. Nonetheless, those five days should have given them plenty of time to prepare for Winnipeg, as well as some time to practice more efficient execution.
Instead, the Colorado Avalanche started the first period flat. The Avs paid the price as the game moved on because they didn’t develop any sustained pressure until the third period.
Nonetheless, the Avs still outshot the Jets by a wide margin even though they were shutout 1-0. This is when the free-fall started for the Avalanche. Even though they were able to win their next game against the Arizona Coyotes, they were not ready when they faced Nashville on home ice.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. Nashville Predators
It’s really difficult to decide which is the worst game the Avs have played this season between Nashville and St. Louis. Each game is up there with the worst performances of the year.
The Avs were smoked 5-1. And, even though they were able to tie the game early 1-1 after the first goal by the Predators, they weren’t able to do anything else after that.
Even though they lost to Winnipeg, they showed some fight and an ability to dictate play. The Nashville game is a good example of how the Avs have looked in every game since: lethargic, uninterested, and mistake prone.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Yep, this is another game I tuned out of early. It just left a bad taste in the mouth seeing the Avalanche give up breakaway after breakaway, and watching Varly struggle even without the breakaways.
Nonetheless, this game was also one of the best the Avs have played, the results just weren’t there. The Avalanche dominated — absolutely dominated — the play at some points, and Corey Crawford just proved he was better.
The Avs outshot the Hawks 38-21 and dictated play for most of the night; yet they still ended up losing 4-0. That’s unacceptable when you outplay a team that well.
Defensive mistakes have been a huge issue for the Avalanche so far this season. They have given up way too many odd-man rushes, they have made way too many bad line changes, and if these mistakes keep happening then the results will stay the same.
The Hawks game is just a good example of what happens when mistakes are made even when you’re outplaying a team. Luckily they were able to shore up those mistakes in the game against the Minnesota Wild.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. Minnesota Wild
Well, there’s no understating the absolute necessity of this win against the Wild. The Avalanche were below .500, they had dropped two in a row by a combined score of 9-1, and were watching their hot start slip away from them.
Fortunately, they came out with a steady defensive effort against the Wild, securing an important division win. Both teams registered 32 shots on net, and the Avs were luckily able to beat Devan Dubnyk — the hottest goalie in the league right now — in the final frame.
It was also an important win at home, where the Avalanche need to play much better this season. And, they beat a team that has had their number in recent years — as all Colorado Avalanche fans know.
However, that effort would not carry over against the St. Louis Blues in the next game.
Colorado Avalanche Vs. St. Louis Blues
As I said, the Blues game is a close competitor with the Nashville game for the worst performances of the year.
The Avs were outshot 28-23, were 0-6 on their power play — failing to score on a two minute 5-3 opportunity — and gave up a dismal three goals in the second period in a matter of 4:52. That’s unacceptable.
That sort of performance is even more glaring when you consider that the Avs fell beyond by two goals real early in the game. And then, they scored a goal early in the second period to halve the lead the Blues had.
In other words, they were back in a game they had no business being in after the first period. And then, they surrendered three goals in quick succession, and became entirely unhinged.
Which is just another example of how inconsistent they have been this season. Not only on a game-to-game basis, but also within games as well.
The Avalanche are back in action on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm MST on home ice against the Arizona Coyotes. The game against the Coyotes marks the first time this season the Avalanche will actually have a home stand.
In other words, after each home game so far this season the Avalanche have immediately hit the road for their next game. Yet, now the Avalanche will play a four game home stand that starts with the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
This is most definitely the most important stretch for the Colorado Avalanche in the early part of this season. Three of their next four games come against opponents that didn’t make the playoffs last year.
Furthermore, the Coyotes, Jets, Bruins and Kings are all struggling with consistency so far this season, just like the Avs. And, this is a chance for the Avs to develop some identity on home ice.
Tuesday looms with importance because the Avalanche certainly need to turn things around if they’re going to measure up to the competition within their own division.
If the Avs don’t develop ways to compete against their own division then it’s going to be a long summer.