Avalanche Searching for Answers


More from Avalanche News

Captain Obvious would like to point out that the Colorado Avalanche have not had the start to the season that we had all envisioned. In their last 10 games, they’ve gone 5-4-1, and they’ve only won a total of nine games in 27. They have yet to make it to 500 hockey.

Ok, if you’re an Avalanche fan, you are well aware of the statistics. They may even haunt you at night, when you close your eyes to sleep. Well, rest assured, you’re not alone. The Avalanche players and organization are searching for answers.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog hasn’t shied away from the uncomfortable spotlight. It’s said he always grants interviews for the media, no matter the turmoil going on in the team. And he’s been talking about some answers.

One of them is that the Avs are going to have some heavy-duty player meetings. That may not seem like much until you realize the Avs are losing because players aren’t living up to their potential for some reason. They know how to skate, shoot, hit, etc — it’s their mental state that needs changing, whether through inspirational speeches or hectoring.

As Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly, who’s no stranger to underachieving this year, pointed out, the mindset is very important:

"“When you’re winning, it’s easier to get into that mindset. When things are going right, you aren’t thinking as much. You’re trusting your instincts and being fully present.”"

The observation is that when you’re losing, you get into that mindset — and you don’t trust your instincts. You don’t get to be an NHL player without high skill and great hockey instincts. That’s just fled for the Avs this year.

Landeskog has noticed it, too, especially the discontent amongst his teammates. He remarked:

"“That’s something we’re dealing with on a daily basis. It’s something that we notice here and there, and those are things you have to stay on top of.”"

More from Mile High Sticking

As a former teacher, I can tell you that failure to live up to one’s potential is a much bigger problem than lacking skills. You can learn the skills. Motivation? Mindset? That’s a day-by-day, even minute-by-minute battle.

Head coach Patrick Roy is approaching it on a shift-by-shift basis. He has stated more than once that the Avalanche’s top forwards weren’t producing as well as they should be. A couple games ago, he even benched center Matt Duchene for the power play and a couple other shifts.

In the game against the Winnipeg Jets, he benched Nathan MacKinnon. The young forward saw no time on the power play or penalty kill the entire game. He also played very little in the third period, which is unusual.

Coach Roy, not a big fan of calling players out to the media, downplayed the decision, explaining, “Must have lost him in the rotation. I don’t know what happened to him.”

Landeskog concurs that there’s no point in calling out any one player:

"“Last year we were winning together, and this year we’re losing together. You stick together either way, and that’s what everybody needs to understand: Just because we’re losing, we’re not individuals.”"

The team is working hard. If you attend their practices, you see how much effort they put into the drills. They also have intense workout rotations. With these promised meetings, and the leadership with which they’re blessed, there should be some better results coming up.

Landeskog promises there will be, “We’re a team, and we’re going to see this thing through, and turn it around.”

The talent is there. The skill is there. The work is there. When the Avalanche players get their mindset in the right place, they really will turn the season around.