Five Takeaways From The Avalanche Road Trip


The Colorado Avalanche finished up a four-game road trip last night, which included stops in Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. After securing a dramatic last second win in Boston, thanks to a Daniel Briere goal, the Avs blew three straight leads to finish the trip with three straight losses. Two of the leads were blown in the third period, something the Avs only did three times last season.

The Avalanche now sit at 1-4-1 overall, which has them in sixth in the Central Division. Their -11 goal differential is the third worst in the league. Frankly, the Avalanche are playing bad hockey at the moment. They’ve had flashes of positive moments, but the negative plays outweigh the positives. Here are five big takeaways from their latest road trip.

1. Follow Matt Duchene’s Lead

After last night’s loss to Montreal, Duchene said “I’ll take 100% responsibility. I got one at the end there, but I should have had more… my job is to score and make plays, and help this team win.”

Duchene was the best player on the Avalanche, recording a team high ten shots. He was buzzing all night, and almost willed the Avalanche to victory all by himself. He is the last player who should be looking in the mirror on the Avs right now, and yet he stepped up and realized his shortcomings. Duchene knows he needs to be looser around the net, and finish off more of his scoring chances.

The rest of the team needs to follow Duchene’s drive to win, and also be honest and accountable about their performances.

2. Gut Check Time

The Avalanche never really faced any adversity last season. From day one, it was a fairy tale ride for the squad, and they always seemed to catch a break when they needed one. Look no further than how Chicago and especially St. Louis slumped at the finish, so the Avs could swoop in and claim the Central Division.

This season, nothing is going the way of the Avalanche. It will be interesting to see if these players can dig deep and find the mental fortitude needed to persevere, and if Roy will make the necessary adjustments. In recent seasons, the Avalanche have tended to really fall apart when things stop going their way.

3. Nate Guenin, Jan Hejda, and Brad Stuart

Seeing those three names clumped together, probably has most Avs fans thinking I’m about to rip on some guys. While Guenin, Hejda, and Stuart have left some things to be desired this season, Erik Johnson, Nick Holden, and especially Tyson Barrie have been making a lot of mistakes too.

I’m actually going to praise the trio of Guenin, Hejda, and Stuart. These guys lead the Avalanche in shorthanded ice time this season, and have spearheaded a unit that has been one of the few bright spots for the Avalanche. The Avs have been shorthanded a whopping 26 times this season, tied for the 2nd highest total in the NHL.

The good news is, the Avalanche have only surrendered 3 goals while shorthanded, and even scored one of their own. Their penalty kill rate is 7th best in the NHL right now. As much negative attention as the highlighted trio of defenseman have received this season, they must be doing something right on the PK.

4. Zach Redmond Deserves a Chance to See What He Can Do

The Avalanche power play is 1 for 22 this season… Atrocious. Part of this is due to players gripping their sticks a bit too tight, over-passing, and needing to get more rubber and bodies to the net. However, there are also some slight adjustments I believe will help kick start the power play.

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Zach Redmond being the biggest adjustment. Redmond has a big shot and is a quality puck moving d-man. The Avs would have to sacrifice one of their PK savants mentioned above, but to me, it’s worth it to get Redmond in the lineup. Right now Alex Tanguay has been seeing a fair chunk of time on the point, and it isn’t working.

Sometimes the slightest tweak to a system, can have a huge impact. Infusing Redmond’s shot and ability to pass to the point on the PP is a jolt to the system I think Roy shouldn’t hesitate to make.

5. Rediscover the Avalanche Mojo

Last season, the Avalanche had swagger and confidence every time they stepped onto the ice. This year, players just seem hesitant. It’s almost as if the Avs have lost their mojo!

The biggest thing this team can do right now is continue to believe in themselves. Doubt should be avoided like the plague. The Avs just need to stay patient, trust the systems and their ability to play the game of hockey, and things will get better.