The Colorado Avalanche need to develop a winning road identity sooner rather than later as they already have a big roadie looming on the horizon.
The Colorado Avalanche played the third game of the 2018-19 season, and it was not a good one. It’s not just that the Avs lost 5-2. It’s that they played bad hockey.
In my previous post, I talked about how the Avalanche need to develop a road identity. It may seem early in the season to already be worrying about team identity. However, Colorado plays in the brutal Central Division where they have to look on the whole year as the road to the playoffs.
Plus, it was the road that got them last season. They went 15-19-7 on the road last year while recording an impressive 28-11-2 at home. They simply need to improve on that kind of road record.
Let’s look some of the keys for the road trip from my previous post before looking into some specific observations.
Establishing a Road Identity
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So far it looks like the Avalanche’s road identity is a losing one — play 20 out of 60 minutes, play bad defense, and hang your goalie out to dry. Oh, and as Altitude Radio announcer Kyle Keef observed, the team lacked focus in the game, so add “unfocused” to the list of Avs road “attributes.”
Obviously, they’re going to have to improve on that. The general consensus is that the team hung new goalie Philipp Grubauer out to dry. They didn’t give him good defensive support.
Welcome to Colorado Avalanche hockey, Grubi. Better get used to it.
While all of the forward lines may have had their moment here and there, none looked good for any sustained amount of time. Especially when it came to defense.
And speaking of defense, the top pairing of Erik Johnson and Samuel Girard looked adequate. Tyson Barrie, Ian Cole and Mark Barberio were tire fires. Nikita Zadorov looked better just because he wasn’t as bad as those three.
Johnson and Girard continue to play surprisingly well together. Looking back, it’s unfortunate that the Avalanche never found the right defensive partner for EJ when he was still developing and striding into his prime. Now that he’s at the apex and about to enter veteran status, they finally find the right partner.
Well, on the other hand, at least Girard will benefit from that mentorship that Johnson never had with the Avs.
The second line, though not great, was more solid than most of the other lines. Hopefully they will continue to gel.
For the Future
The Colorado Avalanche are still a team for the future. So, as we move forward in the 2018-19 season, let’s look at some keys for the game coming up against Buffalo.
- Tighten up the defense: The Avalanche played smart with the puck in all three zones in Colorado. They have to do the same on the road.
- Don’t lose focus: Another hallmark of their home play is that they remain even-keel even after making mistakes. They need to refocus no matter what happens on the ice.
- Play 60 minutes: Ugh, we have to talk about this ever season. I get that you can’t play with playoff intensity for 82 games. But the Avs have to find a way to keep their focus (going back to that) for the full 60.
Road Game 2 vs. Buffalo
Game time: October 11, 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV, MSG-B (Sabres feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
The Colorado Avalanche are already in Buffalo, or en route anyway. They’ll probably have a practice tomorrow and morning skate Thursday before taking on the Sabres, who are in the middle of a little three-day hiatus as they wait to host the Avs.