Colorado Avalanche: Next Five Games are a Turning Point

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Nikita Zadorov #16, Gabriel Landeskog #92 and Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche prepare for a line change against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on January 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Nikita Zadorov #16, Gabriel Landeskog #92 and Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche prepare for a line change against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on January 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche need to have a good showing over the next five games, or they may face hard realities about this season.

The Colorado Avalanche face one of the toughest stretches of the year in the next five games. By that I mean, it’s a turning point for the team’s season.

At the time of writing, the Avalanche were tenuously holding on to the last wild card spot. They started out the season legitimately contending for top in the Central Division. However, a bad stretch that started in mid-December dropped them to their current standing.

We all have opinions about why the Avalanche freefell — goal tending, coaching, lack of secondary scoring, special teams. Truthfully, it’s a combination of a lot of factors including all of the above.

Well, going into the All Star break and bye-week, Colorado had three representatives at the All Star Weekend and a 3-7-0 record in the last 10. And that tells you everything you need to know about the Avalanche’s season.

Why the Next 5 are Important

The next five games are important at least partially because they should represent the start of a playoff push. Likewise, they come after the bye week. We’re hoping the Colorado Avalanche put that “rest and reset” they’ve been touting for a couple weeks into effect.

And we’re hoping their first opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, did not put “rest and reset” into effect. Vancouver had a shakier start than the Avs, but they’ve been making their own playoff push recently. They’re 4-4-2 in the last 10 games and have the same points as Colorado. The Avs only have the playoff berth by virtue of having a game in hand.

Colorado can’t negate that advantage by conceding any points to the Canucks. So, this game is important because they’re playing a conference rival at home.

The next four games are all against Eastern Conference teams, so it may not seem as imperative for Colorado to win — they’re not four-point games. However, besides the fact that the Avs can’t afford to throw away any points, these games are important on their own.

Two days after facing the Canucks, Colorado hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently hold the third seed in the Metro. Home game, good team — the Avs have to show their mettle.

After the BJs game, Colorado heads on a three-game roadie to the East Coast, playing the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, and Boston Bruins. Colorado has played well on the road, going 12-12-3. So the hope would be they could collect at least three points against those teams.

However, we have the defending Stanley Cup champs in that group, the leader of the Metro (Islanders), and another playoff-bound team (Boston) who’s also fighting for its life being in a wild card spot. Again, the Avs need to show their mettle.

What We Will Learn

Those above five games must be the turning point for the season. At absolutely bare minimum, Colorado must play .500 hockey. They must beat the Canucks, but they can drop the Columbus game and be ok with three points on the roadie. So, they have to earn at least five points.

Will that be enough to keep them in a playoff position? It depends on what the other teams in the Western Conference do. However, five points will keep the Colorado Avalanche in the playoff picture.

We’ll learn, then, if the Avs have the playoffs in their future.

Three road points and winning both home games would be a much better result. Colorado was supposed to build this season on a dominant home record. At the moment, they’re 10-8-5 — a winning home record, but hardly dominant. The Pepsi Center is the highest arena in the NHL — it needs to be a much harder place for teams to earn wins.

So, we’ll also find out if this year’s Avalanche can be a dominant home team.

To be honest, any way they earn more than five points in the next five games will be gravy. I think it will also dictate the scope and direction of the current rebuild.

More from Mile High Sticking

In a previous post, I stated what I thought should put Jared Bednar firmly on the hot seat: The Colorado Avalanche fail to win even one game of the Canadian roadie and fewer than two wins at home before the All Star break.

Colorado did win one Canadian game, but they also won only one of their homestand games. I don’t know if that’s enough to put Bednar on the hot seat — I’m guessing not since the team decided instead to banish Tyson Jost. However, this stretch of games should absolutely be determining factors for Bednar’s future with the team.

Because it determines the team’s future. After this stretch, Colorado could still be in a playoff position, or they could be outside looking in. What’s more, we’ll see if the above-mentioned problems — goal tending, special teams, secondary scoring — have benefited from the “rest and reset” model.

If the Colorado Avalanche get any fewer than four points — especially if they lose both home games — we may have to look at retooling the team. Never mind Bednar, the Avs may be looking to sell some of their assets while they’re hot. We didn’t have much to sell in the 48-point season, but the Avs have some decent pieces now.

Ranking Likelihood of Avs' Trade Line. dark. Next

I hope the Avalanche get their five points — or even more! Do I think it’s going to happen? No. I think we’ll see something similar to the mark I set before the break — Colorado will miss it, but not by enough to get excited. They’ll drop out of the playoff bracket and spend the next six weeks on overdrive trying to regain a position.

Nothing major will change, and Colorado will ultimately fail to make the playoffs. And for whatever reason, Bednar will continue to escape blame while everyone will continue to call Jost a bust.

But let’s stay positive. Maybe the top line can whip up some more magic, and Semyon Varlamov will find his groove again.

Because I don’t want to see the Colorado Avalanche fall into purgatory.