The Colorado Avalanche Are Not Good Right Now


The Colorado Avalanche are not a good hockey team right now. Whatever magic there was to start last season doesn’t exist this season.

In the first two games of the season, they let the Minnesota Wild run them off the ice. The first two games were supposed to be some sort of revenge for the Avs after the Wild eliminated them from the playoffs last year. Instead the Avs were shut out in both games and didn’t even look like a professional hockey team in the first game of the season.

The team finally scored their first goal of the season in game three, beating the Boston Bruins 2-1 thanks to a goal with 0.5 seconds left courtesy of Daniel Brierre. Maybe this was the start of something?


In the next two games the Avs blew two third period leads. They lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime as Phil Kessel walked all over the defense and followed that up with a 5-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

It’s inexcusable how this team is playing right now. You can’t let your biggest rivals, the team that knocked out one of your top players, and the team that ended your season last year to blow you out on opening night. And you can’t let them shut you out in your home opener. Then you can’t go on the road and blow two straight third period leads, especially when you were so good at holding onto those leads last season.

It all starts behind the bench and through five games, Patrick Roy doesn’t seem to be the same Patrick Roy that we had last year.

In the game against the Senators, the Avs were up 3-1 when Roy decided to change up the lines. He put Nathan MacKinnon with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog and moved Dennis Everbeg back to the fourth line. MacKinnon started the season with O’Reilly and Landeskog. It amounted to zero goals. It amounted to zero more against Thursday and a blown lead. Instead of sticking with what was working, Roy changed things up to try and get MacKinnon going. It made no sense given that the team had the lead.

The power play needs some kind of jolt, but Roy doesn’t seem to have the answer even though it might be right there in front of him. Play Zach Redmond and bench Nate Guenin. Guenin is not a very good hockey player and contributes nothing but missed assignments, turnovers, and penalties. Redmond is a talented offensive player who could contribute on the power play. Right now Nick Holden, Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, and Alex Tanguay are the four point men with the man advantage. Tanguay is being misused in that situation. He’s better off using his vision and passing from the half boards, not the point.

The defense needs some kind of offensive boost. As good as they were last year, they’ve been invisible this year. So far they’ve produced no goals and only three points. I’m not saying Redmond is going to solve everything, but can he really do worse than what we’ve gotten so far?

The biggest problem with the Avs right now though is how they have been playing in the third period. Last year when they had a lead they had a tendency to over rely on Semyon Varlamov to bail them out. And most of the time he did. Unfortunately that trend has continued into the season and the so far it hasn’t gone too well.

Nursing a one goal lead against the Maple Leafs heading into the final 20 minutes, the Avs were outshot 15-5. The Leafs tied the game and won in OT. Two nights later in Ottawa the Avs had that same one goal lead heading into the third. They were only outshot 9-8, but anyone who watched that game will tell you that all eight of those Avalanche shots were easy saves for Craig Anderson while the Senators had nine shots and even more scoring chances that just ended up blocked or missed the net.

The Avs can’t rely on their goaltending right now because Varlamov is out for at least a week and Reto Berra might miss some time as well. That leaves Calvin Pickard, who played good given the situation in Ottawa, to carry the load for the next few games. Pickard has a lot of potential and had a good training camp, but when you’re struggling to score goals, do you really want to rely on a guy with one game of NHL experience?

And boy are the Avs struggling to score goals right now. Through five games they have seven goals. Three of those came in the first period against the Senators. In 15 periods of hockey, the Avs have been shut out in 10 of them.

As mentioned, the defense has yet to contribute a goal offensively but also absent from the goal column are Jarome Iginla and Nathan MacKinnon. Iginla was brought in because he usually find a way to score 30 goals a season no matter what while MacKinnon was supposed to take another leap this year and really light it up. Even though I have no doubt that Iginla will find a way to score at least 20 goals and MacKinnon will rediscover his scoring touch, both men have to put the puck in the back of the net sooner rather than later if the Avs hope to be competitive.

We are five games into an 82-game season. There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played. But the Avs can’t dig themselves into too deep of a hole to start the season. They need to not only start winning hockey games, but playing good hockey. The inability to score, the costly penalties, the lack of power play, the terrible turnovers, etc… needs to change.

Roy returns to Montreal on Saturday and it’s always a circus whenever he’s in town. Maybe he should give the Canadien fans one more performance behind the bench by taking that glass partition down and reigniting the fire that was there last year.