Colorado Avalanche Need to Fear Failure

Nov 13, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) reacts following the loss to the Boston Bruins at Pepsi Center. The Bruins defeated the Avalanche 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 13, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) reacts following the loss to the Boston Bruins at Pepsi Center. The Bruins defeated the Avalanche 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche players need to fear repercussions to develop their fear of failure. Now, they fail and nothing happens except a loss.

I attended my second Colorado Avalanche game of the season when they hosted the Boston Bruins in the Pepsi Center on Sunday. I got a really good deal on tickets, so I was at center ice just 13 rows up. So, I had an excellent view of the terrible Colorado Avalanche game.

I’ve heard it all — the core is young and talented. The season is still young. They’re trying to learn the new systems. Horse feathers.

I like to joke that if I could figure out what was wrong with the team, I’d have a job working with the Avs. In the past, I’ve complained about their compete level. I think I’ve narrowed it down even further.

The Colorado Avalanche don’t fear failure.

Shot Differential

Because of the last few years, I always check the shots on goal during Colorado Avalanche games. As MHS writer Jeremy Lambert pointed out, there’s no shot counter when you watch the games on TV, so I watch it on Game Center on NHL.

During games, you can conveniently look up at the gigantic Pepsi Vision and see the shot counter. And as the Bruins game worked through the second period, the differential started getting wider. At a certain point, the Boston Bruins had outshot the Colorado Avalanche 2-1, and the ratio never improved. At the end, Boston outshot Colorado 46 to 20.

As of last night’s game, the Avalanche are getting outshot by a differential of 1.6 per game, which isn’t horrendous. However, it’s “good” for #21 in the NHL. Their overall differential is -23.

Getting Outplayed

To me, though, this is a symptom of the team consistently getting outplayed. They face adversity, such as the other team scoring a goal, and they lose their game plan. They start playing individually, which never wins hockey games.

I fear the core Avalanche players lack the discipline to stick to the game plan when things go awry because they’ve never really been held accountable. Either goalie Semyon Varlamov bails them out — and last night’s score could have been exponentially worse if not for his play — or they get blown out of the water. And…. nothing.

There are no real repercussions when the core players under-perform. They’re the best players on the team, so they’re going to get the ice time.

Implementing Repercussions

I’ve gone on record numerous times stating I didn’t think coaching was the issue. Mostly I was talking about Patrick Roy, but I’ve said it about Jared Bednar, too:

Related Story: Is it Time to Hit the Panic Button?

However, holding the players accountable, no matter who they are, is one of the major areas in which coaching can greatly influence the team.

We saw it come into play a few times with Matt Duchene. He wasn’t scoring, and Patrick Roy took him off the power play. Duchene had to earn his spot on there again. He also got moved to wing. Roy took flak for riding Duchene for so hard, but, hey presto — Duchene is still the Colorado Avalanche’s best player. He is the only one not currently suffering from scoring woes.

More from Mile High Sticking

Patrick Roy also implemented teaching practices with Matt Duchene. He showed him video of where Matt scores from. Look at the above for the result.

Roy did it with Semyon Varlamov, too, stating there was a competition for the starting goalie spot. Varlamov’s inconsistency largely disappeared when he was fighting for his job.

Bednar should have a similar system in place. He’s supposed to be a blue collar coach, a man who bases his player decisions on meritocracy.

He may not have the guts, though. He’s a rookie coach. And he doesn’t have the luxury of falling back on Hockey Hall of Fame status. Face it — even Cody McLeod is a better player than Bednar was.

The conventional wisdom is that great players don’t make great coaches, though. Bednar has to hold to that. He can be a great coach. It’s time to bench Nathan MacKinnon for a few shifts — give them to AJ Greer, who was the most impressive Colorado skater on the ice last night.

Take Tyson Barrie off the power play — let Eric Gelinas and his cannon of a shot take a few whacks. Gelinas also played well last night — he was showing a lot of compete level because he knows his inclusion on the playing roster depends on it.

The bottom line is this: The core Colorado Avalanche players are inveterate competitors, but they don’t have a killer compete level like Patrick Roy and Peter Forsberg did. They fail, yet they get the same ice time as always — not to mention the same paycheck.

Next: Avs Will Make Trades if Play Doesn't Improve

The Colorado Avalanche don’t fear missing the playoffs. They’ve done it time and again, and there haven’t been any repercussions. GM Joe Sakic has more than hinted that that could change this off-season if they miss the playoffs again — major pieces of the core may get moved.

Before that happens, though, the players need a little external discipline from the coaching, so that they can continue to develop their internal discipline.