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Avalanche Woes: Pointing Fingers

At first glance, 12-9-1 seems like a decent record for the first 22 games of the hockey season. It's above .500 and worth 25 points in the standings. But in the Western Conference, there is no room for mediocrity, and the Avalanche should already know that after last season's non-playoffs debacle.

I admit that it is very, very early still, but today's Western Conference standings are worth mentioning:

Like I said, I know it's still very early, but take a long look at "Colorado" listed just below that big black dividing line. There they are again, one point out of the playoffs in an extremely competitive conference.

The Avs have lost four of the last five games, been outscored 21-8, and have surrendered their lead in the Northwest standings (twice). Clearly, something is wrong in Denver.

So, who's to blame? As Mike contends in his first Mile High Hockey post, Coach Joel Quenneville must shoulder the responsibility for a highly talented team that continues to underachieve. Others might argue that there is a lack of leadership among the players, with the loss of Ian Laperriere to injury and captain Joe Sakic's apparent inability to motivate his teammates. Maybe it's the fault of the players as a whole, who, despite their massive talents, continue to look lost and uninterested uncoordinated each and every game. Or, does the blame fall on the goaltending tandem of Jose Theodore and Peter Budaj, who have both played poorly at times (or all the time, in the case of Theo) over the past five games?

I'm not totally convinced it's any one factor more than the others, but if I was forced to choose one, I'd probably blame the coach over the players.

What do you think? Who shoulders the most blame for the wheels falling off the Avalanche bus?