After a frustrating loss to the Nashville Predators, coupled with a Minnesota Wild win, the Colorado Avalanche drop to two points behind for the final wild card spot, currently occupied by the Wild, who have a game in hand.
I’m pretty sure I just watched the Colorado Avalanche’s 2015-16 playoff hopes die. Because when it comes to killer instincts, Colorado only seems capable of murdering its own chances.
As I noted in a previous post, when the Colorado Avalanche play well statistically, they often lose. Through two periods, Colorado controlled the game against the Nashville Predators.
Colorado entered the third period up by one. That’s death for this team. At the game, I screamed at them, “Put your boot on their throats! Drive the nail in the coffin! Do not let them off the ropes!”
Apparently they couldn’t hear me, though, because the Colorado Avalanche allowed the Predators to score two unanswered goals followed by two empty netters.
Goalie Calvin Pickard did his best. However, he got no support. Colorado kept turning the puck over in the defensive zone. At a certain point a team actually fighting to make the playoffs is going to capitalize on those glaring mistakes.
Inevitably the finger-pointing begins. Some fingers point to the Avalanche defense. Certainly Colorado’s defense is far from tight. I definitely saw defenseman Tyson Barrie get beat more than once — and he was on the ice for two Nashville goals. Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson definitely had their pizza moments, as did Nick Holden. Andrew Bodnarchuck… well, what do you expect? Chris Bigras is just trying to keep up.
Next we look at the lack of offensive production. I can’t say that Matt Duchene’s line was invisible — man, did they have some pretty plays, especially Duchene himself. However, none of those plays resulted in points. The captain, Gabriel Landeskog, got a goal, and perennial grinder Blake Comeau also potted one. Is that enough from a team that’s supposed to have high-octane offense, especially when play was so wide open? No, of course not.
I should think no one will point fingers at the goal tending. Calvin Pickard did not let in any soft goals, and he certainly got hung out to dry. He faced a ridiculous 38 shots and stopped 35 of them for a .921 save percentage. Yet I have a sinking feeling Semyon Varlamov will get the start on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes.
And then we turn to coaching. I don’t know what goes on in the locker room. I know that head coach Patrick Roy is one of the most motivational speakers I’ve ever heard on any stage. I know he has ice in his veins and an unparalleled will to win. I know he has a brilliant hockey mind. I know he’s done his best to implement a system that complements his players’ styles.
We also turn to management. Is Joe Sakic doing enough to bolster the team? He’s certainly upgraded the blueline with the likes of Francois Beachemin and, eventually, Nikita Zadorov, and presumably Eric Gelinas. True he let Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly go, but he got decent players in Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Jack Skille and, of course, future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. The prospect pool is getting deeper, too.
What it all boils down to in my mind is a lack of focus. The Colorado Avalanche just can’t keep up the pressure. I don’t know why. I suspect if I had the answer I could easily get a job with the organization. Any of us could.
So, I think we’re going to go “balls out all the way,” as Landeskog would say, for the remaining 15 games of the season. And I don’t think it’s going to be enough. So, Avs Nation, let’s just enjoy the ride before it’s over and we face another long off-season.