Dec 10, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle (3) congratulate Phoenix Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss (1) following the win over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. The Phoenix Coyotes defeated Colorado Avalanche 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Coyotes

The skids continue for the Colorado Avalanche.

Having lost three of their last four, it’s certainly not time to panic but it might be time to worry just a little bit.

Things were tight through almost the first half of the game before all of the game’s scoring took place within a seven minute span. Antonie Vermette started with a power play goal against the struggling penalty kill unit of the Avalanche around the 8:30 mark before Jordan Szwarz made it 2-0 four minutes later. Patrick Bordeleau made it look like the Avalanche might still have a fighting chance when he tipped in a Cody McLeod shot with just over five minutes to go, but Vermette would pick up another one just a minute later.

The Avalanche also got the bad news that Alex Tanguay experienced a setback and will be out indefinitely with a hip injury. Without wasting much time, let’s get into what we learned from Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss.

We’d Rather See Mike Smith

Mike Smith became ill yesterday and didn’t feel well enough by game time to play, so the start ended up going to Thomas Greiss. Awesome, you’d rather face the backup than the established starter, right?

Not when the backup is Thomas Greiss. With this win, he is 4-0-0 all-time against the Avalanche and was sterling on Tuesday night, turning aside 29 of 30 shots en route to the victory.

It’s tough when you have a pretty decent game and the opposition just gets great goaltending, but what can you do, really? The Avalanche are just going to have to regroup and try to end this skid in Winnipeg on Thursday.

Minimally Offensive

So hey, remember when the offense was awesome? Doesn’t it seem like a long, long time ago? Well in their last five games, they’ve scored a total of 10 goals. That kind of helps explain why they’ve dropped three of five, doesn’t it?

Part of the problem has been the revolving door of nagging injuries that seem to have popped up of late. Part of it is the massive struggles of the power play. Part of it is regression back towards the mean. All of it is trouble.

The key to getting out of the skids will be to get a quick start and pile ‘em on early. Break the tension, throw the monkey of their collective backs, etc. It feels really, really obvious to say this, but they were winning more when they were scoring by the barrel. Who knew?

Dec 8, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Lookin’ Like a Rookie

Given the early-season success, it can be easy to forget that the Avalanche have a rookie head coach. Patrick Roy has had a history of success so far, but he’s still in his infancy as an NHL head coach and now is the time when we’ll see what he’s made of.

A young team on a losing skid is akin to a bus hanging off a cliff. One wrong move and everything topples over the cliff to its doom. Roy has to find the right balance and get them off that ledge and back onto the successful path.

It seems obvious that the Avalanche just aren’t there yet in terms of competing for the division crown with the Chicago Blackhawks and St.Louis Blues, but an impromptu playoff run could lead to big things down the road. It’s time for St.Patrick to lead them down the promised path.

Next up: 12/12 @ Winnipeg

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Alex Tanguay Chicago Blackhawks Colorado Avalanche NHL Patrick Roy Phoenix Coyotes St. Louis Blues Thomas Greiss

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