The Colorado Avalanche play their third game of a six-game road trip in Florida against the Panthers. They must get back to basics to win.
The Colorado Avalanche suffered their first loss of the young season when they fell to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. To be frank, they were lucky it was their first loss. All along their five-game winning streak they’d been remarking that they were winning despite not playing their best hockey.
Good morning in Pittsburgh: You have to play your best hockey to win. And that’s what they discovered. At least they escaped with a point, so they’re still on a six-game points streak.
It starts tonight with the Panthers in Florida. This should be a winnable game for Colorado. The Cats are coming off a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils, but everyone’s beating the Devils these days. (They’re 0-4-2.) Florida is just 2-2-2.
And these are exactly the kinds of games Colorado loses — the ones they should win. So, let’s look at some basics for the game.
Get Back to Clean Plays
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You can always tell when the Colorado Avalanche are going to make a team pay. You can tell that they’re feeling it. They’re making clean passes. They’re finding each other. Sometimes even the impossible happens, like the way Cale Makar found where Tyson Jost was going to be so he could eventually set up Matt Nieto’s goal.
You can also tell when the Avalanche are going to be the ones paying. They can’t get anything started because they can’t get the puck on their stick, or keep it there. They just keep chasing it around in the neutral zone before the opponent just takes it over.
See: All six of their second periods.
Colorado wants to get back to making those clean plays. Get away from being cute. And don’t come out flat. If Colorado comes out buzzing, there’s no stopping them.
Get Back to Working Hard
In that vein, they can’t be a team that’s not putting their best product on the ice every night. I get that you can’t play all 82 regular-season games like a playoff run — mind and body can’t sustain that kind of pressure.
However, these men have been playing the game since they could stand up under the weight of pads and a helmet. They know to get into the dirty areas, to win puck battles, and what all the other cliches really mean when you’re out on the ice.
The harder working team usually wins. By being the harder working team, you’re in the right spot for when one of those funny bounces takes place. That’s how the Pens won on an overtime penalty kill.
Get Back to Top Line Dominance
We spent all last season lamenting that we just didn’t have the secondary scoring we need. The top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Nathan MacKinnon were carrying all the games.
Well, that’s not a sustainable way to become a Cup-contending team. So, the Avs went out and addressed that lack of depth.
Six games in, though, we have yet to see that top line take over a game. Tonight would be a good night for them to just mercilessly pound a lesser team. Florida has skill and talent like any other NHL team, but they don’t quite have the three-headed monster.
Come on, how about multi-point nights for all three?
Tonight’s a good night to continue the points streak and get back in the win column. All time, Colorado is 24-8-4-2 (ties) against the Panthers. Last season, they split the two-game series.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: Oct. 18, 5:00 pm MT
TV: ALT*, FS-F (Cats’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5/AM 950)
*The Big 3 carriers have colluded to block Altitude TV from being broadcast in the Denver Metro area. However, you can watch all road games at Brooklyn’s near the Pepsi Center.