Colorado Avalanche: Strategies for the Road Trip

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 19: John Hayden
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 19: John Hayden /

The Colorado Avalanche need, at minimum, two points from their upcoming road trip. Here’s what they need to do to get them.

The Colorado Avalanche are about to embark on a two-game road trip. As we know, they’re not the greatest road team, having gone 12-16-4 so far. That’s 28 out of a possible 64 points — 43%

Colorado just got seven out of a possible eight points at home. Yes, we all would have loved to see them sweep the homestand, and they made a good effort. However, the only point they lost was to the Nashville Predators, who are favorites to win it all this season.

Colorado is heading to the midwest to face a Central Division Rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, and an Eastern Conference team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Natually, the coaching staff will pore over (digital) tape and instruct the players on specific strategies. However, ultimately, the Avalanche have to play their game to win.

Here are some keys so they hopefully get at least two of the four points available.

Play to Win

Neither the Blackhawks nor the BJs are currently in a playoff spot. Chicago won’t make it, but Columbus is in the same position as the Avalanche. That means they’ll be fired up and ready to play hard. And Chicago has pride — they’ll want to win in front of their home crowd.

This is another version of managing the game. Play a full 60. Those are cliches, but for a good reason — that’s what the Avalanche have to do to win these road games.

Stay Out of the Penalty Box

More from Mile High Sticking

The Colorado Avalanche are third in the NHL for penalty killing with 83.3% However, that’s both home and away. On the road, Colorado is far less impressive — 75.2%, which puts them at #26.

Now, luckily, neither Columbus nor Chicago is particularly good at the power play at home — 17.6% (#24) and 13.1% (#30) respectively. Nonetheless, it’s better if Colorado plays it safe without their best defenseman, Erik Johnson, in the lineup.

Colorado’s not too great on the power play on the road, either — 14.7% (#27).  Chicago, on the other hand, is quite good at killing penalties at home — 84.3% (#9). Columbus is middle of the pack at 83.1% Still, the man-advantage is and advantage.

Shoot the Puck

Good things happen when you put the puck on net. Sometimes it takes a funny bounce and gets past the goalie. Sometimes the goalie saves the shot but gives a soft rebound that you can bat behind him.

Nathan MacKinnon understands this. In the game against the Nashville Predators, he had a team-leading eight shots on goal. He also has a team-leading 213 shots this season even though he missed eight games with injury.

Who’s second on the team? Defenseman Erik Johnson. That’s not good. He’s missed nine games, and he’s a defenseman — and not an offensive defenseman. Other Avs players need to be throwing pucks at the net, too.

Next: Plan to Make the Playoffs

The Colorado Avalanche have a real shot at making the playoffs. I surmised they need about 96 points since the LA Kings (current eighth seed) are on pace for 95. The Avs have 76 points with 17 games remaining. They need 18 points — a point a game would be fine, but at least one win on this roadie feels better.