Colorado Avalanche: Neither Wins Nor Losses Change the Teams Current State


With three losses following three straight wins for the Colorado Avalanche on their current road trip, the team is back where it started. Fans change their minds about the team every other week, but nothing has ever really changed.

Only seven weeks ago, the Colorado Avalanche announced that the club had made a series of roster moves, including the decision that Calvin Pickard would be the odd man out on the goaltender position. That decision brought up a lot of negativity among Avalanche fans, as Pickard is a fan favorite and was one of the league’s best goalies in the 2014-15 season.

But that was not enough. Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov had a terrible start into the 2015-16 campaign and the Avalanche lost game after game. They only won three games in October and lost three out of their first four in November. Fans quickly decided this team was not going anywhere, and even the most positive ones slowly started to lose faith into the team. Then came Reto Berra.

As opposed to Varlamov, Berra had a terrific start into the season and posted save percentages and goals-against averages that were league-best. Not surprisingly, most fans expected him to crash sooner rather than later, but Berra was able to keep it up. He started to convince people that he really was a great backup for Varlamov.

Along with Berra’s outstanding play, the Avalanche finally started to win some games, as they went on a seven-game road trip that is still ongoing. First, they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0. Okay, anybody can beat the Flyers whose defense is arguably even worse than the Avalanche’s. However, the Avs went on to beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 and finally the Montreal Canadiens — the best team in the Eastern Conference — with 6-1. That is six to one. Against one of the best teams in the league. Clearly, this team can beat anyone and maybe even make the playoffs!

They really can beat anyone, except for maybe… the Toronto Maple Leafs (1-5), Pittsburgh Penguins (3-4) and Washington Capitals (3-7). Ouch.

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Berra finally had his first atrocious game against the Capitals. How atrocious? Well, he got pulled after the first period, where he got four goals against on 11 shots, resulting in a .636 save percentage. And all of a sudden, the “Berra is finally showing his real self again” comments are all over the place.

Furthermore, the Avalanche is in real trouble now, as they are tied for last in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes even have a game in hand over the Avs and Oilers. Accordingly, people are even calling for Patrick Roy’s head now.

So, what is going on here? Was Berra ever terrible? Was he ever great? Was the Colorado Avalanche ever a playoff team? Was Roy ever a good coach? Was he ever a bad one? There are so many questions that all have one answer that explains a lot.

No matter if the club wins or loses the next three games, nothing will change about the team’s current state. In fact, nothing would change if they won the final 62 games either.

So why is that? Well, the roster is not changing. Sure, Roy has made more than a few roster changes since the season opener and they were very interesting from time to time. However, even if some of those decisions were highly questionable, we cannot blame the lack of roster quality on him. And as tough as it may seem, the roster quality really is a concern.

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To be more precise, the biggest issues are still the defense and forward depth. You may realize, when you have a problem in both forward and defense depth, there really is not much the roster can be deep in. In fact, the only position with good depth on the Colorado Avalanche is the goaltenders. Varlamov, Berra and Pickard are all talented goalies and are the last people on the club that should get any blame.

However, one could argue that everything would change if the Avalanche won the next 62 games, as said in the exaggerated example above. If we just assume Matt Duchene scored 80 points, Nathan MacKinnon got 85 and Gabriel Landeskog finishes with 75, while all three goalies have .950 save percentages — would that not change everything? The answer is no, it would not.

The reason for that is simple. In order to win the final 62 games of the season, the Avalanche would basically need all the luck in the world. They would need a shot success rate of 40 percent from each player along with terrific goaltending. To express that luck in a single number: they would need a PDO of 135 or something close to that. If this team went on a long winning streak soon, it would still have the same roster as they do now, and if they went on a long losing streak, they would still have the same roster they had when they beat the Canadiens 6-1.

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In other words, teams tend to be as good as their roster and coaching allow it. Every team goes on winning streaks and every team goes through slumps. The important thing to remember is that none of those events really change anything. The Colorado Avalanche is still a team of the future. We all want them to win as many games as possible, but we should give them time, instead of changing our minds about every player, coach and the whole team as soon as they do something good or bad.

*All stats from and