The Colorado Avalanche need some of their players to start producing more to help them get out of a funk started with two stars out of the lineup.
The Colorado Avalanche are in a funk. After a red hot start in which they won seven of their first eight games, they’ve now lost five of their last six games. They’re now 8-4-2, which isn’t exactly bad. But they’re trending in the wrong direction.
Apparently not long after, captain and also star winger Gabriel Landeskog suffered a leg injury that he tried to power through. The team put him on injured reserve before the Florida Panthers game, and he’s expected to be out long term.
So, yes, the excuse is obvious. However, you can’t wallow in such excuses — championship teams find ways to win. And the way you win, besides stellar goal tending, is by other players stepping up.
We still have our superstar in Nathan MacKinnon. He leads the team with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games. His 13-game points streak was broken in the shutout loss in Arizona, however 13 games is still impressive. So, he’s not on this list as needing to produce more.
Let’s look at the players who are.
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Winger Andre Burakovsky was one of the main players the Avalanche targeted over the summer to increase secondary scoring. They traded a couple draft picks to bring him over here as an RFA and signed him to a one-year show-me deal.
Well, this particular reclamation project seemed to be working. He found a spot on the second line, and he recorded five points in five games to start the season. However, after a three-point night in Florida, he hasn’t produced a goal and only has one assist.
That’s in seven games with prime time — around 16 minutes a game. This is the year for Burakovsky to show he can produce regularly if given a shot. This is it — with the key injuries and his being a natural wing, it’s his time to have a breakout season.
Joonas Donskoi is another like Burakovsky in that he’s a natural wing and a player just looking for a chance to shine. He was ostensibly meant to be a third liner, but he found chemistry on that second line.
And the coaching staff has even given him a chance on the top line with all those injuries in play.
Donskoi isn’t scouted to have quite the high-end skill of Burakovsky, and he’s been a mite more consistent — eight points in 14 games with no more than three games between points. However, the Avalanche need him to find another gear.
It pains me to put center Tyson Jost on this list because he’s already everyone’s favorite whipping boy. Team got shut out? Tweet about how awkward Jost looked on the top line. I don’t know why Avs fans love to rag on the kid so much.
Well, I’m not going to rag on the kid. He looked amazing as our third-line center, the most solid third-line center I can remember. In that position, he scored his first career hat trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Unfortunately, that was the last point he recorded, and that was six games ago. Jared Bednar’s knee-jerk reaction is to pull the reins in on Jost when a situation like that is going on, so I tend to watch games on the edge of my seat thinking, “C’mon, kid, just score.”
I’d really, really like to see Tyson Jost get a goal or at least an assist in the Dallas game.
Fellow center J.T. Compher isn’t really doing worse than Tyson Jost, but he isn’t really faring any better. He has just one more point, six, than Jost. What’s more, he has just one goal.
And it was a goal that came on opening night. That’s a little brutal for a young man who’s the opposite of Bednar’s whipping boy. In fact, it won’t be too much longer and I may have to write how Compher is the next Gabriel Bourque.
Compher gets over 18 minutes a night, including on the top power play unit, and he hasn’t had a point in three games. We’re going to need a little bit more.
The Colorado Avalanche no longer have offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie to fill in when the big guns are out. We do have rookie Cale Makar, and he’s been crushing it, but, you know, rookie.
Enter fellow defenseman Sam Girard. He’s not strictly speaking a true offensive defenseman so much as a puck moving defenseman. However, he also has 155 more games of NHL experience than Makar. And he’s gifted.
However, Samuel Girard doesn’t have any goals on the season so far and just six assists. He’s playing over 23 minutes a night, including on the top power play unit. It’s time for him to start helping fill Barrie’s surprisingly big shoes.
Honorable Mention: Jared Bednar
Enough with the salad shooter approach to linemaking and your personal vendetta against players. Bednar talks a big game about how badly the players are playing, which is valid. However, there are a lot of coaching decisions that are contributing to losses.
Let’s tighten that up, too, eh?
Anyway, the Colorado Avalanche had yesterday to reset. They’ll practice today and face the Stars in Dallas tomorrow. Here’s to hoping every single player on this list produces for the team in that game and all the upcoming ones.