The Colorado Avalanche will have to come together as a team rather than rely on talent to get enough points on the extended road trip.
The Colorado Avalanche are off on another extended road trip just five weeks into the season. They already embarked on a six-game road trip that lasted two weeks.
Now, they’re off on a five-game road trip that will last… two weeks. Hey, at least there aren’t any back-to-backs in this roadie. (Colorado has already had three of those.)
The upcoming road trip will start in Winnipeg and will take them across Canada and into Canada South, Minnesota:
- Nov 12: Winnipeg, 6:00 pm MT
- Nov 14: Edmonton, 7:00 pm MT
- Nov 16: Vancouver, 8:00 pm MT
- Nov 19: Calgary, 7:00 pm MT
- Nov 21: Minnesota, 6:00 pm MT
Anyway, it looks to be a grueling roadie, and we all know the Avalanche are not a healthy team right now. Here’s the scoop on their injury list:
- Mikko Rantanen: week-to-week
- Gabriel Landeskog: week-to-week
- Colin Wilson: day-to-day
- Philipp Grubauer: day-to-day
- Nikita Zadorov: week-to-week
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare: undetermined at the time of writing
The Avalanche found ways to win at home without those players. Now they’re going to have to find ways to win on the road without most of those players.
So, let’s look at some keys to how they can do that.
Solid Goal Tending
The Colorado Avalanche have a trio of goalies now, and that’s a so-so thing. Starting goalie Philipp Grubauer is day-to-day with a “nagging” injury he suffered in the Dallas Stars game. The coaching staff has said he’ll go on the road trip, but no news yet on when he’ll be available to play.
So, in the meantime, we’ve had first-year goalie Pavel Francouz starting with AHL rookie Adam Werner as his backup. Francouz has started six times this season, recording a .915 save percentage and 2.82 goals against average — which is almost identical to Grubauer. His record is also the same ratio as Grubauer’s — 4-2-0 to Philipp’s 6-3-0.
It looks like Colorado is getting solid goal tending. Both goalies have let in soft goals here and there, but they’ve never outright cost the team a game. Whomever is in net will have to be a solid backstop.
Improved Power Play
The Colorado Avalanche should have had a lethal power play in the beginning of the season with all the talent they have. However, through the first three weeks of the season, they were converting just 21.1% of the time, which put them smack in the middle of the league at #14.
In the last couple weeks, without all that star power, Colorado has dropped to #21, converting just 14.8% of the time. It’s understandable why they’ve dropped, but they’ve got to find ways to convert more often with the man advantage.
Penalty Kill Maintained
The Colorado Avalanche have looked good this year on the penalty kill, and that’s how it should be. They took what was once their Achilles’ heel, the blueline, and turned into their crown jewel with all the young talent.
What’s more, the defensive corps mostly escaped the injury bug that has decimated forwards. That did change when Nikita Zadorov took a puck to the face in the Nashville game, and he’s currently week-to-week with a broken jaw.
And he was a big penalty killer for Colorado.
Well, the power play is currently at 82.8%, which is #13 in the NHL. Their penalty killing unit took another hit when Nick Foligno hit Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the head in the Columbus game — he’s bound to be out indefinitely, and he was another big penalty killer.
So, if the Colorado Avalanche can just maintain the status quo on the penalty kill, they’ll be in decent shape.
With each new injury, the team seems to be becoming more and more of a hodge podge of players. Well, they can’t play like that. When they play like a hodge podge, they go on five-game losing streaks.
When they play like five-man units, they do surprising things like beat the Nashville Predators 9-4 with a decimated roster.
The current system is based on the defense supporting the forwards on the forecheck and the forwards supporting the defense on the backcheck. That’s where the idea of working as a five-man unit comes into play.
When they’re operating that way, they have a good chance of winning more battles than they lose. And winning those battles leads to winning full hockey games.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to have a challenging time on this road trip. I said this about the first long road trip — that I’d be satisfied with .500 hockey. And they blew that out of the water.
However, that was a healthy Avalanche lineup. We really should beat them up if they come away with five out of the 10 points available. Especially if two of those points come against the (hated) Minnesota Wild.