Colorado Avalanche: Can They Stop the Hemorrhage?

Nov 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche earned one point out of eight against conference rivals. This has negatively impacted their chance of making the playoffs.

Call the blood bank and push 30 CCs of epi, stat.

Ok, I probably watch too many medical shows. However, there’s no question that the Colorado Avalanche is bleeding right now. Avs fans joke that the team never came back from the All Star Break. Only it’s really not that funny.

NHL scheduling has been pretty cruel to the Colorado Avalanche this year, giving them a dozen back-to-backs, that epic road trip and a road game right before the All Star Break. However, the schedulers did give the team what should have been a gift — a four-game home stand against conference rivals right after the break.

Instead, that four-game home stand has been like a shotgun blast at point-blank range. The only saving grace has been that the two teams around Colorado in the standings, the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild, are equally as bad off right now. But does the fact that two rival gang members are also bleeding out help the state of the Colorado Avalanche’s health.

Not really. Because to step back out of the metaphor, the Predators and Wild have games in hand over the Avalanche. So, if they can staunch the bleeding first, Colorado is in trouble.

Can the Colorado Avalanche staunch the flow of blood first?

If I didn’t believe so, I wouldn’t be writing this. So let’s look at what needs to happen.

Scoring Needs to Happen

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin is having a career year for scoring. That would be all well and good if the veteran wasn’t suddenly being thrust into a Mr. Clutch role. Beauchemin is a shut-down D-man with some offensive upside — he should not be second among defensemen and seventh overall in scoring.

The Colorado Avalanche have firepower in the likes of Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie. While it’s true those players are higher up the scoring food chain than Beauchemin, to a man they’ve been struggling of late:

  • Matt Duchene: 1 goal since the All Star Break.
  • Nathan MacKinnon: 0 goals since the ASB.
  • Gabriel Landeskog: 1 goal since the ASB.
  • Tyson Barrie: 0 points since the ASB.

Add to that the fact that veteran Jarome Iginla — who is just barely above Beauchemin on the scoring list — has had only one goal in 14 games, and nothing since mid-January.

A team can’t have all its best scorers in a slump at the same time and hope to win hockey games.

Defense Needs to Happen

As the Denver Broncos illustrated, you don’t need to have a high-octane offense to win games. If scoring isn’t coming, then the defense needs to tighten up.

The defense of the Colorado Avalanche is part of the reason the team is hemorrhaging so badly.

A while back Colorado implementing a 1-3-1 system that was pretty effective. A defenseman stayed back, a forward roved forward, and the other three players created a defensive line across the middle of center ice.

According to Will Radke, the Colorado Avalanche are still running that system, it’s just looser and “more natural” now. Sorry, Avs, but it needs to stop being natural then. Time to stitch that system right back up because it ain’t working.

In four games the Colorado Avalanche has allowed 13 goals and about a million shots on goal. Ok, not quite a million, but north of 35 on average.

Combine that with the fact that Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard are back to being human again, plus the lack of scoring… Well, you get a 0-3-1 record in the last four games.

Mental Discipline Must Happen

This is what I hope the Colorado Avalanche players are encountering in the locker room:

The problems of the Colorado Avalanche come down to what they’ve always come down to — a lack of mental discipline.

After the 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, head coach Patrick Roy alluded to the team’s mental state:

"“That second goal for some reason affected us a lot. I guess when you’re not on a good streak — we lost the last three — confidence is not there. Sometimes goals like this affect you more than normally — than they should normally.”"

Now, I’ve already expressed my thoughts on the  youngsters forcing the Great Man to have to make excuses for their undisciplined play, so let’s move forward.

More from Mile High Sticking

What do the Colorado Avalanche need to do? Well, they need to stop being whiny little babies, or they need to request a trade to the Minnesota Wild, where the “fragility” of the team promotes that kind of mentality.

Ok, I probably lost some of you there, and I apologize, but I’m really mad. How on earth do you get to the highest level of a competitive sport with a defeatist attitude? The other team’s scoring should infuriate the Colorado Avalanche players. They should be so angry they’re ready to commit murder.

They should be as angry as coach Roy was in the video above.

Why aren’t they? Why do they get so scared every time they face a little adversity? To a player, they’ve all faced adversity in their professional lives. Every single one of them has had to struggle to stay in his position. Every single one of them has had to face the prospect of getting demoted or traded — or both — if he didn’t perform sufficiently.

Now’s the time when people start pointing fingers. It’s the coach’s fault. It’s the captain’s fault. Maybe it’s true that both of those men need to change their tactic.

According to Patrick Roy himself, during a conversation on 104.3 The Fan, it’s a mix. Coach Roy says it’s essential that the team returns to it structure and go back to their foundation. He reiterates that the players need to maintain an “even keel:”

"“Don’t be too high after a win or too low after a loss.”"

Roy states that maintaining this even keel and getting back to basic will allow the confidence to return to the team.

Likewise, coach Roy wants to see more urgency from the team, especially when they’re ahead. He wants the players to dig deep, ignore the bruising and the bang ups, and to continue to hammer away at opponents.

It’s up to individual players.

Next: Avs Must Take Inspiration from the Broncos

At the end of the day, each player straps on his own equipment. He pulls that Colorado Avalanche jersey over his own head. He skates onto the ice of his own volition.

Every single Colorado Avalanche player owns his actions on the ice. He owns how he reacts when an opponent beats him. He owns his focus.

So, let’s see if these players are willing to fight for their own lives. Because you can’t save a victim who is already defeated inside — no matter how much medicine you give him.

Buck up, boys, because this is, literally, the big leagues.