Colorado Avalanche: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Team

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 04: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate a win against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center on October 4, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Wild 4-1. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 04: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate a win against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center on October 4, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Wild 4-1. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

As the Colorado Avalanche begin the new calendar year, which coincidentally coincides with the halfway point of the season, here are some New Year’s resolutions.

The Colorado Avalanche are not at the beginning of the season, when everything is fresh and new. On the contrary, they’re just about at the midway point of the season.

Nonetheless, it’s a new year. It’s a time when we all resolve to be better. Sometimes our resolutions make lasting impacts on our lives. Sometimes they don’t make a lasting impact on our week.

Well, let’s hope for the former when it comes to the Colorado Avalanche. Since it is, conveniently, the midway point of the season, the team and the players can commit to resolutions that will hopefully take them into the playoffs — and hopefully past the first round.

Work on Game Management

This resolution is one of the most basic and most important for the Colorado Avalanche. It’s also the one they’re most likely to muck up. The Avs really are terrible at game management.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Avalanche start out strong then let their foot off the gas. The Avalanche wait until the third period to put their best foot forward. The Avs let the opponent off the ropes when they have the lead. The Avs start out slow and lethargic then pick it up somewhere in the second…

You’re not going to win more than you lose if you can’t manage games better than all that.

Tighten up the Penalty Kill

At the time of writing, the Colorado Avalanche were #22 in the NHL for penalty killing with 77.8%. Yet they were the #5 team in the NHL for penalty minutes per game with 9:49 on average.

Obviously, that’s not a formula that can work. What I saw when writing a previous post was that the penalty kill unit didn’t stay set up. Two players played the man while the other two were left trying to defend three opponents. The opponent scored.

The penalty killers need to stay set up. I know they want to score short-handed goals, but let’s just start with not allowing goals.

Stay out of the Penalty Box

Hey, I have an idea. You don’t have to work so hard on improving the penalty kill if it sees little time on the ice. How about staying out of the penalty box?

The Avalanche have a tendency to take ill-timed penalties. Like in the Chicago game — they started and finished the game on the penalty kill, which is why they lost.

The NHL’s officials already don’t give enough respect to the Avs. They have to become a more dominant team before questionable calls go their way. So, don’t get involved in those questionable calls.

Keep Shooting on the Power Play

The Colorado Avalanche aren’t bad on the power play. In fact, they’re #4 in the NHL with 27.3% conversion.

However, that position is largely due to a strong start. They were, in fact, tops in the NHL for the first few weeks. Slowly, the players have started to get too fancy. They pass and pass and pass… and pass.

In the game against the Chicago Blackhawks, they only allowed themselves to pass a couple times before shooting. And they had success. The L.A. game… not so much. Lots of passing, no power play goals.

Become Dominant at Home

The Avalanche have two distinct advantages when it comes to home ice. They have the same advantage as all other teams — getting the matchups they want. That’s imperative for a team that’s relying so heavily on a single line for success.

The second advantage is unique to Colorado — altitude. The air is a little thinner at a mile high. Yeah, I get professional athletes aren’t as susceptible to altitude sickness as us regular folk. However, the Avs should be pushing teams harder at the end of periods and all through the third.

Push them into taking longer shifts. Save your bursts of speed for when you can sense the opponents are starting to suck at the thin air. After all, the Avalanche play more games at altitude than any other team, and they focus especially on conditioning.

They need to use that to their advantage.

Develop the Youngsters

I’m not going to focus on this too much because it was the theme for a previous post. However, the Avalanche need to make a commitment to developing the talent they have on the team.

Not only do the Avs have some good pieces thanks to drafting and trades, but they also have some young guns coming up the pipeline. Colorado needs to have the likes of Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard settled before welcoming in Conor Timmins, Martin Kaut, and, eventually, Cale Makar.

Give the Youngsters Playing Time

Part of that development needs to come in just letting the youngsters play. Last season, the Colorado Avalanche dressed up to four rookies on any given night. I don’t expect that this season, but they definitely need to rely more on the youngsters than the veteran journeymen.

As I mentioned in that previous post, I’d also like to see the team call up some youngsters. It’s time to give a good, hard look at the 2015 draft class and the likes of AJ Greer, Nicolas Meloche, and J.C. Beaudin. Do they have potential NHL chops?

Play your Best against Bad Teams

More from Mile High Sticking

Stop me if you’ve hear this one before. The Colorado Avalanche can beat the best of teams. They can halt win streaks and hold their own against Cup-contending favorite — and even current Stanley Cup champions. But they can’t beat a team that’s down on its luck.

My personal favorite is how many scoring slumps get broken against the Avs. Not to mention first-ever goals. Or first-ever hat tricks.

Colorado just doesn’t have a killer instinct when it comes to poorly-performing teams. Instead of using those games to pad the points totals, not to mention their individual stats, they play much too casually. And often they get burned.

Improve the Overtime Strategy

The Colorado Avalanche are a speedy, offense-driven team. The current format of the overtime should favor a team like them.

Yet they’ve won only once in overtime. They’ve lost eight times, though once was in the shootout.

Colorado should work on their overtime strategy. So far, that’s eight points they’ve left on the ice. Being in possession of those seven points would put the, first in the Central Division. Heck, they’d only need a couple of those points to put them in second.

Those overtime points are important, in other words.

Make the Playoffs

This isn’t a resolution so much as a goal. Not only do the Colorado Avalanche want to make the playoffs, they want to make it out of the first round.

And they want to eventually become a Cup-contending team.

The Avalanche have a good foundation set for playoff runs. Now it’s time for them to dial in on the details. All teams are comprised of talented hockey players. Sometimes it’s the details that separate the contenders from the bubble teams.

And the Avs want to be the former.

Next. Avalanche Must Develop Secondary Scoring. dark

Happy New Year, Colorado Avalanche fans!