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Game 63: Oilers 3, Avalanche 2

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It seems as though we'll just have to get used to the Avalanche blowing leads for no reason.  Despite the growing pile of evidence that it's a horrible strategy, the team insists on giving up all offensive effort once a one- or two-goal lead is established.  Once again, it failed to produce a win and the Oilers scored three unanswered goals to win 3-2 in Edmonton.

Is there any other team in the league with less heart than the Colorado Avalanche?  

Captain Joe Sakic's return from injury seemed to spark the Avs immediately, but the effect was short-lived.  Oilers-killer Tyler Arnason scored super early in the first period and Ben Guite followed at the halfway mark (assisted by new linemate Sakic), but the Avs quit playing in the second period and were out-shot 8-3.  

I'll just let Adrian Dater's recap paint the picture:

After skating to a fast 2-0 lead, the Avs apparently thought that would be enough against the Oilers and had the play taken to them much of the way, including a second period that challenged for the worst of Colorado's now-imperiled season.

My stomach is already turning.

The Avs tried to get too cute with the puck on the power play, and that kind of play continued — and got worse — into the second period. The Avs put three shots on net in the period, and Jose Theodore was beaten on shots by Sam Gagner and Curtis Glencross.

"We had a great first period. We skated well, and then we just kind of sat back," Sakic said. "We didn't play the game we should have played with a two-goal lead. There's no explanation for that. We didn't match their effort in the second period."

Too cute on the power play.  Sitting back with a lead.  How many times have we seen that this season?  

I mentioned this in the game thread and I'll repeat it here.  Sakic is by far the best passer on the team, and almost every pass he made last night was tape-to-tape, no matter how far away the receiving teammate happened to be.  Quick, sharp passes that never missed.  Coach Q seems to think that makes the best kind of power play point man, a true quarterback who can move the puck well.  But it's not, obviously.  The Avs don't score on the power play because they pass the puck too much.  Nobody takes a big shot from the point---not John-Michael Liles (usually the other point man) and not Sakic---and Coach Q refuses to identify this problem and fix it.  It's inexcusable.

Also inexcusable is the Avs' lack of effort.  You can rationalize being out-matched in skill (say Colorado losing to Detroit), but there's just no excuse for failing to try.  The Avs aren't even trying any more.

The ironic thing about all of this is that the Avs were in a similar predicament at precisely this same time last year.  After two-thirds of a season spent half-assing their way through every game and outside the top eight in the West, somebody lit a fire under their asses and the last nineteen games were freaking amazing.  There are now nineteen games left to play this year.  Will they once again find the spark that drives them to win all if not most of the remaining matches?

If they don't, this season is already over.

Stars of the Game:

  1. Sam Gagner (1g, 0a)
  1. Curtis Glencross (1g, 0a)
  1. Tyler Arnason (1g, 0a)