Colorado Avalanche: Preseason Offensive Woes an Issue?


The Colorado Avalanche are in dire need of a win tonight. You know what they say, exhibition games don’t matter. Right? Right… except not exactly because based off of last year’s slow start to the season, the Avalanche could stand to prove that their offense isn’t going to sputter out the gates as it did last year.

I watched Thursday’s game on the tape delay that NHL Network had rolling, and the first period was atrocious from the Colorado Avalanche. I mean it was awful. The only bright spots were near the end of the period, when the Avalanche seemed to pull their heads from the dark abyss and stench they had been ruminating in during the opening moments of the period.

More from Avalanche News

However, play seemed to pick up in the second and third periods, yet the Avalanche still got shutout in back to back games, and for the third time this preseason. In fact, the Colorado Avalanche have scored a grand total of 6 goals (unless you count Thursday night’s OT goal) through the 5 games, and 5 of those goals came in their first game against the Anaheim Ducks. That’s bad…

Here’s what Patrick Roy had to say when asked if the offensive struggles concerned him prior to Thursday night’s game:

"“Yes and no,” he said. “No because we’ve been trying a lot of players, but yes because we want to score a lot of goals. When we scored five the first game we felt good about it. At the same time, we’re going to play pretty much 90 percent of the team the last two games, then we’ll see where we are.”"

Patrick Roy has made it clear that they were testing some young up-and-coming talent in their system, which may be the culprit behind their offensive woes so far this preseason. I counter with two claims. First, they scored 5 goals in their first game with a small amount of their actual roster playing, so that theory about young up-and-coming talent being the reason for a lack of scoring is out the window.

Second, they played with at least “90 percent” of their opening night roster on Thursday night, and still provided a goose egg.

So, I’m worried, I don’t know about anyone else, but a grand total of 6 goals in 5 games with 5 coming in the first game is just not going to cut it in this league, especially if offensive prowess is the style the Colorado Avalanche hope to sport this season.

Is There Hope for the Colorado Avalanche?

Let’s try and make more sense of this dilemma. During Thursday’s game — especially during the opening minutes — the Avalanche struggled to make effective zone exits, and Nick Holden got beat to both rebounds that resulted in goals for the Ducks.

It must also be noted that Erik Johnson was not on the ice. He is certainly a polarizing feature of the Colorado Avalanche blue line, but is he enough of a catalyst to affect the outcome of an entire game? Unequivocally yes. However, I still think the Avalanche would have lost this game even with EJ on the ice because even though they had difficulty exiting the zone, and Holden blew his assignment twice (maybe more), they were still unable to convert on the offensive side of the ice.

Sure, EJ would have helped with zone exits, and would have contributed to the amount of possession the Avalanche had in Anaheim’s zone, but the Avalanche lacked stellar scoring chances to a rather large degree.

There were some bright spots though because Nathan MacKinnon had an amazing game. He was all over the ice, and you can easily tell that he’s put on some weight. I’d love to see how David Backes would respond now if MacKinnon were to shrug him off again like he did in his rookie campaign. See below:

The scene is shown in the early moments of the video, but there is a slower look at about the 1:15 mark.

The Colorado Avalanche cannot rely solely on MacKinnon obviously, and their depth is supposed to be something of a marker this season. With Nathan MacKinnon set to center the third line, the Avalanche certainly seem to be employing three scoring lines this year, which should help with the offensive woes from last season.

Nonetheless, there have been no results to this point and AvsNation have to be getting a little squirrelly and queasy with the lack of production so far.

Lack of Offensive Production Likely to Carry Over to Regular Season?

I’m waiting for tonight’s game in order to determine the likelihood of this happening, but if the Colorado Avalanche show again with lackluster offensive production, less-than serviceable puck possession, and poor zone exits then it’s likely that there is no other outcome.

Here’s the thing, the lack of offensive production may be more a symptom of Patrick Roy’s defensive system, or offensive system at that, rather than a slumping core of offensively gifted players who are failing to live up to their potential. What do they say: (I actually know what they say here) the best offense is a good defense? Wait no… the best defense is a good offense? Yeah that’s it, right?

More From Mile High Sticking: Colorado Avalanche: 4 Lessons from the Preseason

That’s not the point, you see, both offense and defense are dependent upon one another in order to operate at a productive level. In other words, a balanced system is the key to success in today’s NHL, and most sports for that matter. So, if the Colorado Avalanche don’t start to bring balance to their game, ensuring that the forwards depend as much on their defensemen as the defensemen depend on them, then we could see a repeat of last year and another lottery pick.

Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche face off against one of the most sound teams in the league possession-wise; as such, they are provided with a great challenge to showcase their ability to create chances, and hold the opposition to a minimum. That’s the name of the game folks, and the Colorado Avalanche need to prove that they can play that game.

Ultimately, the season has yet to start so maybe it’s a bit soon to start getting worried, but the fact that “90 percent” of the opening night roster played in Thursday’s game, and still came up with a goose egg, is something to take note of surely.

What do you think AvsNation? Is the offensive production so far this preseason a source of worry? Or, are the Avalanche going to save the goals for opening night against the Minnesota Mild? Let us know in the comments! 

Next: Is an Offense First Style the Best System for the Avs?

More from Mile High Sticking