Colorado Avalanche Seem to Need to be the Underdogs

The Colorado Avalanche are supposed to be coming into their own. Instead, they’re still playing like pugnacious underdogs — and it’s costing them.

The Colorado Avalanche are a talented young team with the depth they’ve dreamed about for years. They are not an underdog team.

And that’s a pity because being the underdog is the only way the team seems to know how to shine. The Colorado Avalanche just dropped another game. It’s their third loss in a row, their seventh in the last 10, and the… I don’t even know which time for blowing a third period leave. Five, I think, in the last 10.

They’ve dropped to the third seed in the Central Division. The Winnipeg Jets are just three points away from overtaking that spot.

It’s just so frustrating. This team started out so strong that we practically thought they could win every game this season. We knew it was a pipe dream, but we also figured the Avs would be hardcore challenging for first in the Central — and first in the Western Conference.

The situation right now reminds me of a few years ago when the Toronto Maple Leafs lost eight straight to just freefall out of playoff contention. Phil Kessel was still with the team at the time, and he remarked that it was just an awful experience to go through.

I’m beginning to fear we’re going through it. And the issues that are plaguing the tean are the same they’ve always been.

Failure to Play Full 60

Last night, the Avalanche came out like gangbusters. They were by far the better team, and they put the Penguins back on their heels. In the first period anyway. In the second, it was the Avalanche who were back on their heels. A late — and fluky — second period goal put them back on top, and that seemed to be the charmer.

Yet they were inconsistent again in the third period. Some shifts played well, others couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. This has been the theme throughout the season of Colorado being unable to play well for the whole game.

Special Teams Issue

One area that’s especially become an issue is special teams. Now, to be fair, special teams were decent last night. The penalty kill was 100%, and the Avs scored on one of their three power plays.

But they didn’t score on the most important one. Late in the third, after Evgeni Malkin stuck a dagger in our hearts by putting Pittsburgh up 3-2, the Avs got a golden power play opportunity. Yet they for the most part mishandled it. They only took the game to OT by the force of Cale Makar’s will and Matt Calvert’s soul.

Goal Tending Controversy

I was afraid of this one. I lamented pretty strongly in the preseason that we were going into the year with a first-year goalie (Pavel Francouz) and a first-year starter (Philipp Grubauer). That would have been ok a couple years ago when the Avs were starting four rookies a night anyway.

However, the team wants to be Cup contenders. And this is not a Cup-contending goalie tandem. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance. However, they seem to be undergoing another mid-season collapse.

Lack of Confidence

Last night, Andre Burakovsky seemed to access his inner Blake Comeau. He was on the breakaway in overtime! He had the chance to be the hero! Instead, he hesitated, which gave a Pens player enough time to disrupt his play. Burakovsky flat out stopped right in front of the goalie to try and settle the puck, and then tried ineffectually to pass.

He, along with a few Avs players, seem to have lost their confidence. Maybe that’s part of what’s going on with the goalies. That may also be why they can’t seem to play a full game.

Inability to Dominate

So, we return to the premise — the Colorado Avalanche don’t know how to dominate. Even though they have the talent, skill, and roster to dominate, they still act like underdogs.

The team simply doesn’t know how to play with a lead, whether in the third period or in the season. They don’t seem to play their best hockey unless their backs are against the wall.

And that’s not going to win you a Stanley Cup.

Next: Avs Need Grit Like Kadri's

How can the team get out of that underdog mindset? Can the leadership core do more to bring them to that winning way? Coaching? Sound off below with what you think needs to happen for the Colorado Avalanche to stop thinking like underdogs.

Load Comments