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Here We Go Again?

Oh, the joys of being a Colorado Avalanche fan in the post-lockout era. Year after year, experiencing disappointment of significance...we are just living the dream. For me, the worst part is that it's been the same old story each of the last few years: the Avs do nothing in the summer to improve and then trick us into getting our hopes up with a strong start before Lucy pulls the football away every February, laughing at us as we fall flat on our backs. It's not that the Avalanche failed; it's that we knew they were going to fail, but we talked ourselves into thinking this year would be different. Again.

The Avalanche are in a fight for their playoff lives and yet they have just 3 wins in their last 12 games. The Avs have a pitiful 21 goals in that stretch, an average of 1.75 goals per game. Under Joe Sacco, the Avs have only had one other stretch of 12-games where they've scored less, as they scored 19 in a 12 game stretch during those two 10-game losing streaks last year. There's a big difference, though, as during that 12-game stretch, the Avs allowed 48 goals - 4 per game. During this stretch, the goaltending has been decent: 34 goals allowed, or just under 3 per game. Last year, a lack of scoring wasn't the only reason the Avs weren't getting wins. This year, it's their raison d'etre.

The Avalanche are on the precipice of their 3rd straight 2nd half collapse and, honestly, I don't have the slightest inkling as to why it's happening. Two years ago, it was because Craig Anderson was over-worked. Last year, it was the injuries. This year? Youth? Inexperience? Lack of heart? Look below at the team's record under Joe Sacco. How can it be that Sacco can be 20 games over .500 in the first half of the season and 20 games under in the second half? Right now, he has more wins in October (23) than February, March and April combined?

October 36 23 10 3 116 3.22 99 2.75
November 41 16 20 5 122 2.98 132 3.22
December 43 25 14 4 126 2.93 129 3.00
January 36 17 17 2 86 2.39 95 2.64
February 22 6 14 2 46 2.09 71 3.23
March 28 8 18 2 79 2.82 107 3.82
April 12 4 6 2 31 2.58 39 3.25
Oct-Jan 156 81 61 14 450 2.88 455 2.92
Feb-Apr 62 18 38 6 156 2.52 217 3.50

Each year, the Avalanche start out the year scoring a half a goal per game more than they give up. Throughout the year, offensive output dwindles and defensive numbers erode and those numbers ultimately end up flipping. Why? Is this a coaching thing? Does Sacco have some super-brilliant gameplan each October that takes the rest of the league 4 months to crack? Do his motivational speeches have a short shelf life? Does the altitude take it's toll on the team? Is there some sort of Zodiac thing going on here?

I honestly don't know. Is it coaching, players, conditioning, heart or all of the above? Truthfully, I am at a loss to come up with any reasonable theory to explain this amazing phenomenon. I know the Avalanche are thin on offensive talent...but they were thin on talent in October and they weren't losing like this. Sure, Matt Duchene is out, but this can't just be about him...can it?

It's frustrating and infuriating knowing that the slide is coming again. All you can do is watch and hope that this year will finally be the year. Maybe, just this once, Lucy won't pull that football away and you'll nail it through the uprights. It will be different this one time and the results will be...