Colorado Avalanche Under 500: Time to Panic?

Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning
Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning /

The Colorado Avalanche have dropped to one game under .500 for the first time this season.

It is not time to panic because the Colorado Avalanche have dropped to one game under 500. And while it’s concerning that the Avalanche are currently in a four-game losing streak, it’s still not reason to panic.

Remember, this is the third-youngest team in the NHL. (Somehow Arizona leap-frogged both the Avalanche and the Columbus Blue Jackets.) There are going to be hiccups during the rebuild — and this is only the first proper year of that.

Plus, last night the Colorado Avalanche went in to play on the road against the best team in the NHL.

In fact, there are three takeaways from last night’s game — and all of them reiterate that it’s not time to hit the panic button.

1. Passing is Good — if it’s Good

We’ve all railed at the Colorado Avalanche for passing the puck around like it’s a tray of cookies at a garden party. (I may be the only one who uses that exact turn of phrase, but the frustration is there for all of us.)

However, the Tampa Bay Lightning showed passing can be a good thing, when it’s good passing. Here’s an example of the Bolts executing crisp, tape-to-tape passes that lead to their fourth goal of the game:

According to color commentator Peter McNab, the Lightning practice this every practice throughout their time on the ice — it’s a focus for them. Indeed, apparently when Ray Bourque was first traded to Colorado, he brought that kind of passing ethic with him.

I don’t know why the Avalanche aren’t better at passing. It’s true that it’s never seemed to be a focus with them in practices. But at times last night it looked like they were just hacking away at the puck while the Bolts were surgically moving it.

2. More Defensemen Don’t Automatically Lead to More D

More from Mile High Sticking

The Colorado Avalanche suited up seven defensemen and only 11 forwards last night. Coach Jared Bednar stated before the game that the rationale for that was to ease Patrik Nemeth back into the lineup. He’s missed 12 games with an injury and has been in and out of the lineup all season.

Well, having one more defenseman to add to the rotation doesn’t automatically equal to more defense happening on the Avalanche’s side. The Tampa Bay Lightning spent almost the whole first period in the Avalanche’s zone last night — by the grace of Semyon Varlamov and goals by Gabriel Landeskog (first shift back from suspension) and Erik Johnson, they came out of that period tied at two.

3. There Needs to be Some Consistency in Lines

In fact, suiting up seven defensemen and having six of them rotate who plays with Erik Johnson (28:31 of ice time — that’s pert near half the game!) did not create a winning atmosphere last night.

The Colorado Avalanche are going to have difficulty creating chemistry with their linemates if they don’t know shift-to-shift who said linemate is going to be. We’re 27 games into the season already — it shouldn’t still feel like the preseason where you’re trying out different line combinations.

And for the love of hockey, if you’re going to recall Duncan Siemens from the AHL, play the poor kid young man.

Next: 3 Areas for the Avs to Work on During the Roadie

All that said, it’s still not time to panic. The Colorado Avalanche are young and in the middle of a rebuild. This year is for giving Colorado’s many rookies some NHL experience. Next year is about properly fighting for a playoff spot.

After that, it’s about standing out of the way of a young team that grew up together while they become dangerous and even contenders again.