Colorado Avalanche Season Review: Pacific Division


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The Colorado Avalanche season in review continues with a look at how the team fared against their Pacific Division foes. In fact, the Avalanche didn’t do so hot, going 7-10-3. In fact, they failed to beat the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks even once. On the flip side, the Arizona Coyotes didn’t beat the Avs once, so there’s that.

To advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs, a team has to be especially strong within its own conference. The Avalanche were not that. They went a middling 14-12-4 against their Central Division rivals, putting them at 21-22-7 against the Western Conference.

That said, there are some lessons the Avalanche can take from their Pacific Division series.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers

Mar 30, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Anton Lander (51) prepares to shoot the puck as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Zach Redmond (22) dives to defend during the first period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers were so bad this year, they ended up with the #1 NHL Draft pick. They should have been easy pickings for the Avalanche. Yet Colorado went 1-2-0 with Edmonton, with that single victory needing to go to the shootout.

After the March 25, 2015, game, when the Avalanche lost 4-3 — that’s when I knew the Avs weren’t making it to the playoffs. They let the Oilers go up 3-0, battled back in the second and early third periods, only to watch it go up in flames with a power play goal from Edmonton.

The March 30, 2015, game was desultory at best — even head coach Patrick Roy lambasted the team’s effort after the 4-1 loss. The Edmonton games were clear indicators of how the Avalanche weren’t playing 60-minute games.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames

The 2014-15 Calgary Flames were yesterday’s Colorado Avalanche. The team became known for being scrappers who pulled out last-minute victories. They did it against the Avalanche, too. Calgary came back from a deficit in the December 4, 2014 game to win in overtime. Colorado maintained its lead in the March 14, 2015 game, and then watched Calgary do the same in the March 23, 2015 game.

The series, like all three games, was close. However, the Flames took a slight advantage. The Colorado Avalanche season was an even 1-1-1 against them.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Vancouver Canucks

Mar 26, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack (31) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche fans booed the Avs at the conclusion of the two teams’ second meeting on November 4, 2014. Vancouver beat the Avalanche 5-2 in the Pepsi Center after defeating them soundly 7-2 in Pepsi Center just a week prior.

That booing is a memory that’ll haunt me for a long time. By then it was just so obvious that the team wasn’t putting forth the right effort, and Avs fans were disappointed after the promise of the previous Colorado Avalanche season. But that booing still haunts me.

The Avalanche ended up winning their final meeting 4-1 in Vancouver. The two teams like to open up play, so the games are exciting — sometimes too exciting. Decision Vancouver, 1-2-0.

Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks

The Colorado Avalanche only played the San Jose Sharks twice this season, losing both times. To be fair, the first loss went all the way to the shootout. But the second game was a decisive 5-1 loss.

The San Jose series shows how the Avalanche couldn’t win the clutch games. The first game came early in the season when they’d been battling to find momentum. A shootout win should have been relatively easy, but neither Matt Duchene nor Alex Tanguay could score. And Semyon Varlamov couldn’t stop either of San Jose’s shooters.

By the April 1, 2015, game against the Sharks, the Avalanche were scratching and fighting to make the playoffs on a long, long shot. Yet they managed only 20 shots on goal. They tried — and failed – to make a heart attack comeback at the last minute, even giving up two empty net goals.

Colorado Avalanche vs. LA Kings

Mar 10, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) pushes on Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Kings were the only team the Colorado Avalanche beat in the preseason. In the regular season, the Avalanche didn’t beat them even once. The games weren’t even all that close — 4-1, 5-2, 3-1.

It all came down to puck possession. The LA Kings are masters at maintaining the puck, and the Avalanche are masters at turning it over. The final game, the Avalanche only managed 10 shots on goal. Granted they had just found out they’d been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but… 10 shots on goal is ridiculous.

On the bright side, that April 4 loss was the last of the season for the Avs as they went on to win all three their remaining home games.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Anaheim Ducks

Avalanche-Ducks games are always strange. It was at the Anaheim-Colorado season opener last year that head coach Patrick Roy famously pushed over the stanchion between benches.

This year, the puck-possessing Ducks should have owned the Colorado Avalanche, yet the series went 1-1-1, and all the games were close.  In fact, the biggest victory came for the Avs when they beat the Ducks 4-2 on April 3, 2015.

The series just goes to show the Avalanche have it in them to beat the elite teams of the NHL. Their one, decisive win came in the final game of the series — that should give us hope for their mettle moving forward.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes

Feb 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) controls against Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Well the Colorado Avalanche dominated one team this season, the lowly Arizona Coyotes. The Avalanche took all three contests, though the first went into overtime.

The series was an indication that the Colorado Avalanche have a killer instinct. All too often teams look at lesser opponents and let them off the ropes. The Avalanche never did that with the Coyotes. They went 3-0 against Arizona, with games 2 and 3 both being 5-2 victories.


The Colorado Avalanche can win against the elite teams and dominate the weak ones — well, the Coyotes anyway. The Avalanche sometimes struggle with puck possession teams, sometimes struggle with comeback teams… in short, the Avs were all over the place with their Pacific Division rivals. However, almost to a team, the Colorado Avalanche fared better against their opponents as the season wore on.


Consistency is going to be key next season. While adaptation is important, the Colorado Avalanche have to play Avalanche hockey. They’re a team built on speed and offense. They’re bound to be a team built on size, which can increase their puck possession. Those aspects need to be the focal points of their hockey moving forward.

The Colorado Avalanche season was not what we wanted, but the team has plenty to build on.

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