Through Their Eyes: Avs Reaction to Jets Loss


The Avs Nation was not happy with the Colorado Avalanche’s 6-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. When a team loses like that, it’s hard to remember why you’re a fan of the team. You’re angry and frustrated because it looks like the team isn’t trying, or that they’re blundering like amateurs.

Well, as competitive as we are as hockey fans, the players and coaches are 100 times more competitive. As helpless as we feel just watching, they sometimes feel helpless while doing.

A good case in point. Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly has not had anything like the season he and the Avs were hoping for. He has only four goals 27 games into the season, and he’s at a minus-12 rating.

Before the Jets game, he remarked that he’s been outcome focused this season, instead of focusing on the processes of hockey. So, he’s looked at the score, looked at his own numbers, and let that drive his play. He added:

"“I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I should be right now. I think I do need to contribute more. We’ve had a ton of one-goal games, and I’ve been held off the scoresheet. If I could produce something, it could give us a better chance of winning.”"

Head coach Patrick Roy has noticed the inability to score, and not just in O’Reilly. Indeed, he blames that lack of scoring touch for a lot of the Avs problems. He further analyzes the issue:

"“We’re taking chances at the wrong time. For example, at the end of the [second] period, Varly kept us in the game. It was a 2-1 game. We forced the play, and in forcing the play, we ended up having the faceoff in our end.  And they ended scored the third goal on that faceoff. Then the guys were tired, and all of a sudden it’s a 3-1 game. On a back-to-back game, it’s very difficult to come back”"

Avalanche center Matt Duchene didn’t like any aspect of the team’s game against the Jets:

"“We got out-played from the puck drop to the final buzzer by a team that’s ahead of us [in the standings]. They just wanted it more than us, I guess. Don’t know why.”"

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog doesn’t agree that the issue is desire. He remarked, “We all want this so bad, and we’re all working.” Indeed, a month ago, when the Avs were facing similar types of games regularly, he went more in-depth with his analysis of the problem:

"“It’s frustrating. If you’ve ever been in this situation, if you’ve ever played the game, you know that you want it. You want it bad. You work hard, but things aren’t going your way for whatever reason. It’s a sport where you’re out there against another team. It’s not golf where you’re competing against yourself.”"

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson once remarked that hockey was only 20 percent physical, with the other 80 percent being mental. Landeskog has made similar observations. O’Reilly would concur. He observed that it’s easier to be in a winning mindset when you’re winning. He explained:

"“When things are going right, you aren’t thinking as much. You’re trusting your instincts and being fully present.”"

So, is it time to write off the season? No, don’t be silly. The Avalanche still have a chance to make the playoffs — it may be a slim chance, but it still exists. And there’s still good Avalanche hockey for us to watch.

That said, what’s it going to take for the Avs to get going in that direction? First of all, I posit that they already are. As Roy pointed out, the Jets match just wasn’t a good game, “That’s all.”

Landeskog thinks the team is moving in too many different directions:

"“We’re not working together. We’re all going to need to dig a hell of a lot deeper than this because this is not good enough, what’s happening now.”"

Duchene thinks they need to wake up:

"“At some point we have to be men about this and realize it’s not like baseball where there’s 162 games. We’re almost at 30 now, halfway through, and we have to figure it out fast.”"

O’Reilly thinks the Avs need to stay process focused. They need to take the game shift by shift, and not pay attention to what the score is.

What separates a winning team from a losing team is not skill and talent alone — all NHL teams have some level of skill and talent. It’s mental fortitude.

I think the young core of players need to access that will to win that drove Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy through their careers. It’s there, and they’ve shown flashes of it. I believe they’re going to continue to work hard — and it’s ultimately going to pay off.