Don't panic. Yes, Colorado has dropped 4 straight and 5 of their last 6. Yes, they are not only leaving valuable points on the table, but they are giving them away to teams they will be chasing for a playoff spot. But all is not lost, yet.
In truth, the Avs have been playing pretty good hockey. Their goaltending has been good, their defense has generally been playing at it's best levels of the season. And their forwards are getting their chances. But the key area they are hurting in - the powerplay - is killing them. Colorado is a dismal 2 for 31 over this recent 1-5 stretch. Their opponents have 6 powerplay goals. Heck, their opponents have more shorthanded goals: 3, 4 if you count Dan Hinote scoring on a breakaway out of the penalty box. They need to score with the man advantage; if they had score just one PP goal in each of the last 3 losses, they'd be sitting in second in their division instead of dead last.
The powerplay will get better. It has to. I thought this would be the area Colorado would have trouble in (because of all the new, inexperienced faces) and, unfortunately, I was right. Even without some stud new forward the Avs are rumored to be chasing, there's too much talent here to not improve. But it needs to start happening. Now. Please.
- Brett Clark was rewarded for his breakout year this past offseason with a $1.5 million contract and he has not disappointed. He usually is the team leader in ice time, and hasn't been on the ice when the opponents have scored a pp goal in the last 8 games - a span of 31:57 of pk ice time. Statistically, he is our best defenseman on the PK by a wide margin: through last night's game, he averages over 15 minutes per PP goal allowed. (PK stats are available on the "Avs Stats" link at the top of the page).
- Ossi Vaananen has never been one of my favorites, but he has been playing some surprisingly good hockey in both ends of the ice. He's a +5 for the year, and has only been a "-" player in 2 games this year. If it's true that teams are scouting him for a potential trade, it's a perfect time for him to be elevating his game.
- And to close out the blueliner quick hit trifecta, ever since a disastrous game against the Blues, Patrice Brisebois has been playing some inspired hockey in his own end (a respectable -1 over the stretch). The Edmonton game was the best game I can remember seeing him play. Last night, though, I did see him make some questionable decisions both with and without the puck in the defensive zone that makes me think this short second honeymoon might be coming to an end soon.