Oiler’s Game Is A Prime Example Of What Avalanche Can Improve Upon


I think it’s fair to turn our attention to next season. We’re at the point where the roller coaster is cruising in to the finish line. I’m hoping the Avalanche go down screaming to the end, and I plan on enjoying the ride until the cart has come to a complete stop, and the operator gives me the okay to de-board.

However, I also already have my eye on the next roller coaster. No, you didn’t stumble on to a roller coaster aficionado blog by accident, I’m looking toward next season.

Tonight’s contest against the Oilers provided a pretty good blueprint of precisely what has gone wrong with the Avalanche this season.

What happened tonight, is exactly the type of game that can’t happen if the Avalanche wish to transform from a team with promising talent, into a legitimate contender.

The first thing we saw go wrong tonight for the Avalanche, is they got outshot. This has been a common occurrence, with the Avalanche sitting 2nd to last in the league in Corsi at 5-on-5. You can dress it up however you want, but giving up 74 shots in 2 games against the lowly Sabres and Oilers is a bit of a problem.

Patrick Roy has gone on record as saying, in essence, he feels his top players don’t always work as hard as is needed to be successful. This is perhaps part of the equation. Maybe last year came too easy?

The Avs have lost two games to the less-than-awesome Oilers in the past week, and frankly, that’s not acceptable. The Avalanche are better than that. They need to have the mental edge to do what is needed to play better consistently.

Even good teams will go through hot stretches and cold streaks. Look at the Wild. They were in crisis mode leading up to Christmas, and now they look like a legit cup contender.

But with the Wild, I circle back to the shot metrics. Minnesota is at 51.2% Corsi at 5-on-5. The Avalanche are at 43.1%. There are a lot of ways to win hockey games, but history has shown, these shot metrics matter. There are always going to be exceptions. We should expect that. However, it’s naive and foolish to believe that your team can be the exception every season.

Luck and randomness are a part of hockey, but when you are giving other team 60 lottery tickets to your 40 over the course of a season… well, I’ll let you figure it out. Is it possible to still get more winning tickets than the other guy? Sure. But you don’t make it easy on yourself. Things like a bad start, injuries, and slumping scorers can dig you into a mess of a hole really quick, and that is way more likely to happen when you are short on lottery tickets.

The second part of this equation is personnel. I respect Patrick Roy, and I think that the most important thing he has instilled in this team is a never-give-up attitude. The Avalanche fight to the bitter end, and they have belief that they can find the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I think that this will suit the Avalanche well.

The challenge for Roy and his partner in crime, Joe Sakic, moving forward is to continue to upgrade the roster every season. These guys need to adapt. I can’t judge how well they are going to do at this, because they haven’t had a chance to try it yet. The players, I hope, have learned valuable lessons this season.

I hope the players come back next year humbled and hungry.

I don’t think that alone is enough to get this team to where they, or the fans want them to be. Tonight against the Oilers, Nate Guenin got absolutely burned on a Justin Schultz goal.

The simple truth is, the Avalanche have players who have seen significant time in the lineup this season who are prone to negative plays, and don’t offer much upside on the positive end of the spectrum.

I root for everyone, and hope every player is successful. It’s always hard to be critical, because at the end of the day, these are humans playing the game. Objectively though, a hockey team is no different than a machine. To get a machine to reach its full potential you want the best parts possible. In that sense, sometimes you need to look for areas to upgrade. Sometimes one or two subpar parts can really throw an entire piece of equipment out of sync.

The Oiler’s game showed us a lot of things that the Avalanche can look to improve upon next season. I think learning lessons is as valuable as anything at this point. I’m hoping tonight, the Avalanche took some good notes on:

  • The need to get better at generating shots for and managing shots against.
  • The need for the players to play every game with a humble and hungry mindset.
  • The need to upgrade certain portions of the roster.

If that sounds simple, it’s because it really is. It boils down to having more chances than your opponent so over the course of the season (with even luck), you score more goals. You need players who are playing for something, and they have to be good enough that their effort matters.

*Thank you to war-on-ice for possession stats*

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