Normally, just before an Avalanche game against the Los Angeles Kings, I'd be thinking to myself, "Self, this will be an easy two points." But this isn't a normal season, even compared to the Coach Quenneville Mediocrity Era. This season is rotten already.
It's strange to think the Avalanche have had two big multi-game winning streaks this year because it feels like they haven't won a game since the pre-season. Even though their last win was just last week, the two consecutive losses to the Flames feel worse than they should. Every team loses a couple of games here and there. Some more than others. And they lose those games without seeming like the whole operation has crashed and burned and there's no hope.
Not the Avs, not this year. The last two debacles against Calgary, in which Peter Budaj put a heavy chain and padlock on the mouths of his many early detractors, saw the once-impressive Avalanche offense continue to skate around in circles like a pee wee team. The defense came and went. The penalty kill wasn't terrible but the power play was absolutely horrendous.
It's tough for any team to be without their captain and best player, but Joe Sakic missed a lot more games last season and the Avs were still able to win. Last season the injuries kept piling up but the team still made the playoffs and still lasted until the second round. This season the injuries pale in comparison and yet the team is even worse.
If Paul Stastny wants to be a team leader some day, this is the time for him to step up and lead the Avalanche offense. He's been slacking lately, and it's obvious. He's also not alone, but when one of the most talented players on the team is half-assing every play and shirking responsibility, it poisons the rest of the operation. It's time for him to earn that big salary he just signed up for.
The Avs need a big, multi-goal win tonight. A close win would be nice, but crushing the Kings and restoring confidence in the offense would be exactly what this team needs to regain control. Unfortunately, as David pointed out, this time of year usually isn't very good to the Avalanche. But we can still cross our fingers and hope.