Colorado Avalanche, Georgiev need reset before Stanley Cup Playoffs

After an ugly weekend, Avs fans are reaching for the panic button: but could this be the wake-up-call Colorado and their goalie need?
Apr 14, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) warms up
Apr 14, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) warms up / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche have not been sharp down the stretch, that much is not up for debate. Since the season-high nine-game win-streak, the Avs have gone 3-6-1. I won't sugar-coat it, that is bad hockey. I previously wrote about how Colorado's fate was in their hands with so many divisional games in the final portion of the season. Unfortunately, those hands fumbled a chance at the top-seed in the West, the Central title, and more than likely home-ice in the first round against Winnipeg. A disaster on all fronts. But the one bit of good news is that none of those struggles have been in the playoffs.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are in fact a chance at a major reset for the Avalanche. Believe it or not, there are still reasons to be optimistic about the team, and their chances at post-season success. Playoff hockey is simply a different beast. Looking back at the Avs last Cup win in 2021-22 , the team limped into the post season going 1-5-1 before showing up ready to dominate. The bad run that preceded greatness included loses to Edmonton and Nashville, both teams Colorado went on to sweep on their way to a championship.

Now, I know the 2021-22 Avalanche are a special team, one that you can't just compare the current team to without expecting push-back. But the current boys in burgundy and blue are still a tough matchup for anyone in a series. The Avalanche are the best goal-scorers in the NHL. They lead the league in lighting the lamp with 297 GF. The Avs could hit the 300 mark with a 3 goal performance to close out the regular season on Thursday. That is almost 50 more goals than Winnipeg who now sit at 251. We know that goals will come at a premium in the playoffs, where everyone typically plays a tighter game, but having a team that fill the back of the net has to be seen as a positive.

Many among Avs faithful have been wringing their hands and talking doom-and-gloom if my twitter-feed is an accurate sample. They are justifiably concerned about the matchup with the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck has been haunting their dreams. The probable Vezina Trophy winner is the main reason people seem sure the Avs are in trouble, aside from our own woes in net, which I will get to shortly. But one curious stat that jumped out at me is that Vezina honorees rarely lift the cup. I had to go all the way back to Tim Thomas in 2011 to find such a case.

On top of that. Helle's post-season record isn't all that scary in my opinion. He is 17-23 all-time in the playoffs. His deepest run actually came in 2017-18 when he had the least amount of experience between the pipes in the playoffs. That year the Jets made the West finals where they were drubbed by Vegas in a gentleman's sweep. Aside from that 9-8 record Hellebuyck has been mostly bad in the playoffs. Even in his other Vezina season in 2020.

What Alexandar Georgiev needs in this playoff run is a clean slate. By virtue of circumstance he does have that. Everybody starts 0-0 in the post-season. While I don't foresee a scenario where Georgie becomes an absolute wall in the playoffs it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he regains enough form to be a positive factor. Coach Bednar put a lot of faith in #40 this year, time and time again. The Avalanche rode their primary net-minder to a league-leading 38 wins this season. The save percentage has been rough, you get no argument from me on that fact. But wins are the only thing that matter in the end.

Another important element which gives me hope is rest and preparation. True, the Avalanche have been a mess lately. Yet today their matchup is tough but a known variable. So much of the haphazard travel schedule of these last weeks will calm down and find a familiar rhythm. No more back-to-back games, or even worse, the three-in-four nights with all those air-miles. In all likelihood the afternoon matinees, like we just witnessed won't be a thing.

When the Colorado Avalanche have a routine that they are comfortable with they look more like the contender I know they can be. Some fans want the Avs to hit the panic button and bench Georgie now. The coaching staff has been telegraphing all year that they won't do that. They could have made a move at the deadline for a backup, and did not. While it might come back to be a costly error, Colorado isn't the type of organization to panic just before the playoffs.

Take a deep breath and relax Avs fans. The playoffs haven't even begun yet. When they do, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and yes, Valeri Nichushkin will all be suited up and ready to go. Georgiev doesn't need to be a Vezina-level goalie for this team to have a chance at a cup. He only needs to let in one less goal a game than whoever the Avs play against.