Colorado Avalanche Still Looking for Win #2


“Losing’s not acceptable. As soon as losing’s acceptable you get in trouble. We want to win.” – Tyson Barrie

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Vancouver Canucks in the second of a two-game home stand. The Canucks are coming off of an impressive 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues during which they dominated the Blues in the third period, earning three unanswered goals.

The Avs… well, we know where they stand. They’re 1-4-1, having given up leads in four straight games to eventually succumb, either in regulation or in overtime. So, what are the storylines going into the seventh game of the season?

#1: Mental Games

Ok, I think it’s safe to say the Avs are in their own heads. They may be succumbing to the fear factor a little bit, perhaps choking a little while they’re on the ice because they’re second-guessing themselves.

As color analyst Peter McNab, himself a retired NHL player, put it, when the game doesn’t go right, players stop themselves during plays rather than letting their natural — and excellent — instincts take over. Assistant captain Jarome Iginla concurred, stating players start pressing when the game isn’t going well.

The reason for these mental games? Captain Gabriel Landeskog put it best:

"“People always compare us to last year, and we subconsciously compare ourselves to last year.”"

And last year they had such a magnificent start. The Avs have to get out of their heads — and it’s up to the veterans like Iginla, Brad Stuart and Max Talbot to make the youngsters understand that, yes, this drought absolutely will pass.

#2: First Goals

Both Iginla and Nate MacKinnon are looking for their first goal of the season. For his part, Iginla is notorious for being a slow-starter in the season.

MacKinnon’s been switched around a lot already in this young season. He’s started at both center and wing, top-6 and third line. His linemates have practically been a revolving door around him. It’s no wonder he’s having trouble getting his footing. Once he gets that first goal, though, he should have his confidence back — and the successive goals will come more easily.

#3: Play All 60

The Avalanche would have won against the Florida Panthers if they had played the first period. Ok, that’s not really fair, but that’s even how the players themselves put it — Alex Tanguay pointed out:

"“You can’t win playing 40 minutes or 35 minutes a game. We have to play a full 60.”"

It’s not so much that they’re not playing all three periods as they’re getting into their mental space. They came out flat against the Panthers, a couple errors resulted in a couple goals and they started overthinking everything. I think that’s why they looked flat in the first period.

The Canucks have a tendency to do the same thing, and they usually do it in the first period. If the Avs can just come out strong, they might be the ones giving the other team mental problems.

#4: Home Win, Please

The Pepsi Center crowd waited 4 1/2 periods, a game-and-a-half, before they heard the goal horn for the Avs — over 89 minutes of hockey got played at Pepsi Center with no Avalanche goal. Well, finally, Tyson Barrie’s power play goal put an end to that drought.

The home crowd would like a win in the Can now. The Avs Nation simply wants to celly in its home arena. The Avs know it — hopefully they take inspiration from their fans. Maybe if we yell loud enough, they won’t be able to hear themselves think — which right now would be a good thing.

#5: Goal Tending Situation

The Avs are getting starting goalie Semyon Varlamov back. Even though backup goalie Reto Berra has been excellent, and Calvin Pickard filled in admirably, the team feels most confident when Varlamov is in net.

That doesn’t mean they should feel free to keep up their shot differential — they’re currently 27th in the NHL for giving up more shots than they take, according to Scoring Charts. Nonetheless, hopefully having Varlamov in net will give them the boost of confidence they need.

As for the Canucks, they’ll likely have Eddie Lack in net. He hasn’t played much — one full game, and he stepped in for Ryan Miller in a loss against the Dallas Stars. The Avs have only faced Lack once in net, a 3-2 overtime win in which Barrie scored the winning goal. Repeat, please.

The Colorado Avalanche-Vancouver Canucks game starts at 7:00 pm MDT.