March will be remembered as the month in which the Avalanche fell apart during the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the team went 4-10-1. Three of the wins the team did manage to earn were pretty spectacular, but you don’t earn extra points because you ended a historic streak, or because you won the game with 0.3 seconds left in overtime, or because your goalie bailed you out and stopped over 30 shots in a 61 minute shutout effort. Consistency is rewarded, rather than melodrama in this league, which is as it should be.
So what really went wrong this month? Well, the defense was the biggest problem. As a team, the Avs allow more shots than anyone else. They have a tendency to try and get fancy in their own zone, rather than just clearing the puck out. Poor passing, passing without looking to ensure that the player is open (or even there), and the ensuing amount of time spent in the zone all create disasters, and were all a part of the Avs’ formula this season, and in this month particularly. It has hurt that Ryan Wilson, one of the team’s top defenders, only played in two and a half games this month (re-spraining an already sprained ankle twice). Erik Johnson has returned from his concussion, and he’s played well lately, but it obviously took a couple of games for him to get back to normal. Ryan O’Byrne and Greg Zanon are in the midst of what have to be the worst seasons of their careers. Shane O’Brien has been scratched too many times by a wacky Sacco. Tyson Barrie hasn’t received the support a rookie defenseman should. To put it simply, the Colorado blueline has been a tangled, hairy mess. Another problem in the month of March was that secondary scoring really seemed to dry up. Which means that even though P.A. Parenteau went crazy with points, and Duchene, O’Reilly, and Landeskog were solid, no one else was really scoring.
It was dissapointing to see this happen to the team (again) in the second half of the season. I will, however, give them kudos for holding each other accountable, and not making the situation worse with the blame game, or by pushing it on coaches.
After this month, there’s not as much to look forward to in April as there might have been. There will be 14 games in April (four sets of back to backs), and these look likely to be the last of the season. The last two games the Avs have actually played really well in, even though they only earned one win. I think it’s important (and that the players know this) to win as many games as possible. Even if the Avs aren’t in the top eight at the end of the season, they can really affect who is. It’s not a glamorous role, and it’s not fun to be a spoiler. Still, misery loves company, and it’d be nice if the Avs could bring some misery to other teams.
Semyon Varlamov appeared to really lose confidence in the month of March, but his game yesterday was splendid. For his sake (for a I fear too many more losses will ruin his potential forever), I hope the team can get it together, and perform at least to an average record level.