Colorado Avalanche: Success without Duchene and MacKinnon

5 of 5
colorado avalanche
Mar 20, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Mikhail Grigorenko (25) battles for the puck with Edmonton Oilers center Leon Drisaitl (29) and Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson (6) during the first period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports /

Shift-by-Shift Mentality

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — the Colorado Avalanche are ever a mental team. For whatever reason, the players lack mental discipline. They allow themselves to get upset when they make mistakes, and those mistakes escalate to eventually cost them games.

We saw it at the start of this season when they allowed the Minnesota Wild to score four goals in 5 minutes and 7 seconds in the third period to take Colorado from a 4-1 lead to a 5-4 loss. It has happened more times throughout the season.

This lack of mental discipline is largely why the Avalanche players have been pathetic in protecting third period leads. They allow the opponent to get back in the game, they freak out, they make more mistakes, they lose.

This cannot happen in the next two games. I repeat: This. Cannot. Happen.

Patrick Roy has been preaching “even keel” since his inaugural season as head coach. That’s mostly meant players shouldn’t be too high after wins or too low after losses.

The Colorado Avalanche players need to take an even keel approach to each shift. Mistakes are going to happen — they’re only human. Sometimes those mistakes are going to cost the team goals. Fine. The players need to shake it off when that happens, refocus, and go back out with the same confidence and intensity as before the gaffe.

There’s hope, Avs Nation. There can be nothing more demoralizing than allowing an opponent to score a short handed goal — except allowing them to score two short handed goals. On the same power play. Yet exactly that happened in the game against the Calgary Flames.

Rather than freak out, though, and let a now 2-1 lead by the Flames balloon, the Colorado Avalanche players seemed to clear their heads. They scratched back to tie the game and eventually win in the shootout — without their best shooters (Duchene and MacKinnon) to boot.

Next: Avs Injuries Force Different Game

That is the resiliency the Colorado Avalanche are going to need for at least the next couple games as Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon heal their knees. They have to find a way to grind out wins against both the Flyers and the Wild.

As always this late in the season — victory is the only option.