Colorado Avalanche Youth Still Learning the Ropes

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Melker Karlsson
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Melker Karlsson /

Though the Colorado Avalanche are in the midst of an historic eight-game winning steak, the youngsters still have a lot to learn.

The Colorado Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 last night, and that’s a good thing. The Avalanche were up 4-0 at the midway point, and that was a good thing. However, the Avalanche let the Sharks score three straight before former Shark Matthew Nieto scored, and that first part is not a good thing.

The Avalanche youngsters failed to put their boots on the Sharks’ players throats. They let them off the ropes. They coasted through large parts of the game. Whatever metaphor you want to use, Colorado almost found a way to lose last night’s game.

The Avs are a young team, and they’re still learning the ropes of NHL hockey.

Any hockey team makes mistakes. Otherwise, “perfect” hockey teams would win 82 straight and win the Stanley Cup in just 16 games. It doesn’t work that way.

The Avalanche, being a young team, are making a lot of mistakes. The nice thing is, they seem to be learning from them.

To the general Avs team: Until you’re in the final couple minutes of the game, there’s no such thing as a big-enough lead. I get that you play the game differently when you have a lead, especially a multi-goal lead, but you can’t coast. Ever.

To the general Avs team: You’ve got to be disciplined. The Avalanche got called for seven penalties. Yes, the referees didn’t call the game fair. The Sharks could do no wrong — including deliberately pushing their net off its mooring. However, that’s the time you’ve got to be the most disciplined.

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To the general Avs team: Yes, the goalie can save your bacon. This is true of both Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier. But, no, that shouldn’t be your main strategy for winning games.

To Nathan MacKinnon: You are a superstar. Keep doing you. (I’m also happy to note he’s really been playing with his speed to befuddle defenders.)

To non-MacKinnon players: Nathan MacKinnon cannot do it all by himself. Ok, maybe he can, but you shouldn’t let him.

To the Power Play: Passing is good. Passing is even great — if you’re at a large Thanksgiving table. When you’re on the man-advantage, use the advantage to actually try scoring. That will involve shooting the puck.

To Samuel Girard: Channeling your inner Tyson Barrie is often a good thing. He’s a clutch player who scores clutch goals. I’d love for you to score your first goal as an Avalanche. However, for the love of hockey, don’t channel your inner Mr. Swiss Cheese when you’re quarterbacking the power play and the puck is coming at you.

To Alexander Kerfoot: You have been dethroned as King of the Most Awkward Goal:

To Mikko Rantanen: Thanks for taking one for the team, big, guy. Stick with that brand of jocks.

I’m certainly not going to get too down on the Colorado Avalanche. With their win against the San Jose Sharks, they now have eight straight wins. That’s their longest win streak in 12 years — the last time they had such a win streak was in 2005-06.

That said, it should come as no surprise that the Avs still need to learn their NHL ropes. They’re the second-youngest team in the league. On any given night they dress five rookies, and their second-best player is a sophomore.

Next: Would Kerfoot Benefit from More Ice Time?

This is an exciting Colorado Avalanche team to watch. Hopefully they keep their forward trajectory going not just for the rest of the season but well into the next several season.