Colorado Avalanche: Wheels Coming off of Avs Hockey

WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 9: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets checks Alexander Kerfoot #13 of the Colorado Avalanche into the boards during third period action at the Bell MTS Place on November 9, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 9: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets checks Alexander Kerfoot #13 of the Colorado Avalanche into the boards during third period action at the Bell MTS Place on November 9, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche are playing inconsistent hockey, which is showing in their five-game losing slump.

The Colorado Avalanche have lost their fifth straight game. That is not good. Holy Captain Obvious, right? However, it’s really not good — this is the season in which we’re supposed to see if the Why Us? 2016-17 season was the fluke or if last year’s golden run was the fluke.

In October, it was looking like the Avalanche were picking up where they left off last season. Here in November, it’s looking like they’re picking up where they left off in 2017. They’re finding ways to lose.

Let’s look at some of the keys to the game, then we’ll dive into some particulars.

Tighten up the Defense

I’d say overall the defense was a little better than it’s been in the last couple games. However, while the defense itself was better, the forwards seem to have largely given up on that style of hockey.

The defensive pairings were weird. They started out with Erik Johnson back on the top pairing with Samuel Girard. Ian Cole was back with Tyson Barrie and the Nikita ZadorovPatrik Nemeth pairing was there. However, at times Johnson skated with Nemeth, while Cole skated with Girard.

It’s little wonder players didn’t seem to know what their roles were and they lacked cohesion. Though, like I said, the blueliners were better than the forwards.

First Line Dominance

Nathan MacKinnon was brutal tonight. Most people don’t put stock in the plus/minus ratio, but that -2 from tonight was well-deserved if for this play alone:

It’s almost like he turned over the puck and went, “Meh, whatevs. Time for my shift change.” That’s not even 2016-17 Avs — that’s the kind of attitude that got us the first-overall — and MacKinnon — in the first place.

MacKinnon has been off his step all month, and it shows in the fact that the Avalanche haven’t won yet in November. Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen also failed to record a point.

Bounce-Back Game

Nope.

Hopefully in Edmonton because we do not want a six-game losing streak.

Colorado Avalanche Key Goals

Two players, Erik Johnson and Tyson Jost, who needed to get on the scoreboard did so tonight. They were the goal-scorers for the Colorado Avalanche.

For Erik Johnson, it was his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. He had three shots on goal, but it seemed like he was shooting the puck every chance he got.

Here’s the goal:

As he noted in his post-game presser, “You want to sacrifice any individual success for team success.”

Unfortunately, that nasty Nate gaffe came right after Johnson’s goal.

Jost scored the only other Avs goal:

Remember when I noted in my practice report that Jost isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas in front of the net and that he’d specifically sought out development in tip-ins? Yep, I’m going to say it: Told ya so. That was only the second goal of the season for Jost, third point, which isn’t much. But that is precisely what I saw him working in practice.

Takeaways from the Jets Game

I’m not convinced this Colorado Avalanche is a playoff team. I know it’s early yet in the season, and I haven’t even written my quarterly report yet. However, I just don’t see these guys as playoff bound.

The Avalanche didn’t change over a lot of players from last season. Really, there are just five players making the roster this season who weren’t here last year. Last season saw a much bigger turnover in personnel.

Yet last season’s team was much tighter. Changing players isn’t an issue. Perhaps it has more to do with changed players. Here’s an observation Avs insider Adrian Dater made:

Dater has been around since the beginning, so he’s seen a lot of rosters. It also makes sense that last season the Avs would have a chip on their shoulder. This team is having to deal with extending success, expectations, and national attention. That’s a whole new atmosphere from last year.

More from Mile High Sticking

We have to remember what GM Joe Sakic said last year. He’s going to let the kids grow up together. He didn’t make any big splashes in the offseason because he wanted to trust the process of growing the team from the ground up.

This is only Year 2 official of the rebuild. 2016-17 didn’t count because that was a transition from thinking the Avs were a bubble team to admitting they were in a rebuild. Last season Colorado fully implemented the rebuild but watched as their star tossed the team on his back and carried them to the playoffs.

MacKinnon is only 23 years old. He’s still learning to play consistent NHL hockey — and he ain’t doing it right now. And the team isn’t stacked enough yet to do the heavy lifting if he’s off.

The Colorado Avalanche aren’t a playoff team right now, and that’s ok. They’re growing up together. Sometimes you watch babies and they seem to run before they can walk. But they always have to go through the stages to build that solid foundation.

So, my main takeaway from the Jets game and the general losing skid is this is a team that’s still growing. I’m not saying we should rule out the playoffs altogether. I’m saying we should focus more on growing players like Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard into the roles they’re going to eventually assume.

Because right now none of the players seem comfortable in their roles. So, let’s just trust the process. Let the kids — including MacKinnon — play and learn the game at whatever level is presented before them.

dark. Next. Open Letter to Jared Bednar

Let the Colorado Avalanche build their proper foundation. Before that platinum inaugural season, a lot of the cliche blood, sweat, tears went into a Quebec Nordiques team. We’re experiencing that now, Avs Nation.