Colorado Avalanche: Negotiating the Beginning of the Season

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

In recent years, the Colorado Avalanche have had an issue with stumbling out of the gate and trying to make up ground the rest of the season, that can’t happen this year.

The Colorado Avalanche have been bad in the beginning of the season the last two years. So bad, that I’ve begun to speculate the EA Sports NHL franchise has incorporated this bad start into the start any user is going to have with the team in “Franchise Mode.”

If you don’t know what I’m talking about in terms of the game, then that’s fine. However — in relation to the team itself — the Avalanche need to be better to start this season.

That’s a fact folks, plain and simple, so let’s take a look at some of the ways the Avalanche can avoid a bad start this season.

Hold onto third period leads

I’m going to start with the most important thing the Avalanche need to consider. In fact, this has been a topic that I’ve been interested in here at MHS for quite some time:

Related Story: How Bad was the Third Period for the Avalanche Last Season?

I know that post is a bit outdated in it’s syntax. But, the facts are evident, and will still be prevalent until the Colorado Avalanche prove that they can execute a killer instinct this season.

The team threw away, at the very least, 12 points in regulation last season by allowing teams to come back and win games in the third period.

Those were games where the Avalanche were tied or had the lead going into the third period, and ended up losing in regulation. The Avs only needed more points to make the playoffs last season.

How could that possibly happen you may ask, I think it has something to do with a lot of different issues (third period plan of attack, systems utilized, player disposition, killer instinct, etc…) but may ultimately be defined as some form of complacency.

The Avalanche need fight on every night

A nice cliche slogan for the team eh? Perhaps that could be the new mantra for season No. 4 of the rebuild/playoff hopeful Avalanche. A sardonic #fightoneverynight for the masses, what do you think?

In other words, I’m not into slogans for this team anymore, no more mantras — NHL teams seemed to be rather enamored with the idea of a mantra — just play an efficient game and get the job done.

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Get the job done on every single shift, on every single night and during every single period. Systems surely influence the effectiveness of work ethic, but it is ultimately work ethic that separates the “good” teams from the “bad” teams.

Work ethic will impact how the Avalanche approach games, and how effectively they play them throughout the night, but talent also factors into how successful they will be.

The core players need to step up

I suppose this is another cliche being thrown around the web, but it is certainly true. With talents like Gabe Landeskog, Matt Duchene, and Nathan MacKinnon on the team, the Avalanche cannot afford to have their top scorer’s season plateau be 59 points.

The core players need to at least break 60 points. And, I think that one of them needs to be in the 70 point range in order for the Avalanche to be successful this season.

More From Mile High Sticking: MacK as a Power Winger Rather Than as a Center

Big time players step up in big moments, and step up consistently. For example, Nathan MacKinnon opened the season with 24 points in his first 23 games. But, he ended the season with just 28 points in his last 49 games.

That’s obviously a huge disparity, and may speak to a lot of different developments for the Avalanche: line combinations, overall team morale, etc… But, there also needs to be some consistency associated with a top player, and all the core players need to step up.

Luckily, those core players are currently playing in some high-intensity games against top competition already.

World Cup competition might impact start of season

The core players of the Colorado Avalanche are more or less all playing in the World Cup. Tyson Barrie is the only “core” player not in the World Cup. And, Carl Soderberg is also playing against some top end talent for Team Sweden.

Related Story: World Cup of Hockey Good for Team

Hopefully that level of competition will translate well to the start of the regular season for the Colorado Avalanche. If it does, then the team will avoid a third season in a row of drastic starts.

However, there are a lot of questions surrounding the team right now. Those questions extend particularly to team structure, systems and roster construction.

Next: Chris Bigras' Probable Role

In other words, it is entirely likely that there are an overwhelming amount of factors that hope to dismantle the success the Avalanche have to start the season.

Only time will tell, but there is one thing glaringly obvious at this point: the Colorado Avalanche cannot afford to have another slow start to the season. More simply put — in recent years — the start of the season has irrevocably impacted the way the team played the rest of the way.