The Colorado Avalanche headed to California with a record finally back at .500, ready to earn at least four points, and put themselves back in the hunt for a playoff spot. Now, coming home, they earned only two points, they failed to win a single game, and are still sitting 14th in the Western Conference.
So, what went wrong, when it seemed as though things might be turning around?
In Los Angeles, the team just played poorly. Semyon Varlamov had his worst game of the season (although I know he’s let in more goals in other games, this was truly his worst-none of the four goals allowed were acceptable). The team in front of him played uninspired, and as a group they gave up their first shorthanded goal against this season. I’m not sure why Coach Joe Sacco didn’t either pull Varlamov (after either the second or third goal) or why he didn’t try and call a timeout to shift the momentum, but then again, Sacco makes a number of questionable calls I don’t agree with.
Anaheim seemed like a rebound game at first, as the Avs took a quick two goal lead. However, the referees failed to call a slashing penalty on the Ducks’ Cory Perry, which allowed him to score his first goal. Then, a slashing call was made on Gabriel Landeskog, and a puck trickled through J.S. Giguere, who sat unaware until Ryan Getzlaf slid it over the line. John Mitchell would respond with a nice snap shot past Jonas Hiller. In the third, the team sat back too much (I don’t understand why they always sit back with a one goal lead, but they do), and Anaheim was able to tie things up. In overtime, a rather soft call on Ryan O’Byrne led to the third straight Ducks PP goal. Obviously the officiating had a major impact on the game, but at the same time, you need to manufacture your own luck in this league, and the Avs failed to do so.
Still, heading into San Jose, the Avs had an opportunity to go .500 on this roadtrip. The Sharks earned a quick goal, but the Avs responded well and eventually tied things up. The curse of former Avs scoring on the Avs continued with TJ Galiardi’s first goal of the season early in the second period. Once more, the Avs fought, and with three minutes remaining in the game, tied things up. Semyon Varlamov was awesome until it came time for the shoot out. He allowed two goals, matching the same number of goals he allowed in eight shoot outs last year, and Antti Niemi allowed only one on four shots.
Clearly, this was a disappointing swing for the Avs. However, there is no time for them to hold their heads down. They need an estimated 20 wins in the next 30 games to make the playoffs, the team’s supposed goal for this season. It’s time to step up boys.