Reasonable Avalanche fans realize a consistent start isn’t very reasonable as this team learns a new system, a new coach, and is put in some hockey situations it hasn’t seen in the past three seasons. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make losses like tonight’s any less difficult to bear. Colorado got off to a better start tonight...and then proceeded to plummet into the depths utter incompetence for the the final 40 minutes, losing 5-1 to Nashville Predators team that had gotten off to an atrocious 2-5-1 start to the year.
The Predators’ Craig Smith would draw first blood on a tip just 1:31 into the game after Eric Gelinas dug a puck out of the corner in his own end and flipped a backhand pass to an unwitting Blake Comeau just standing in the slot. Sadly this wouldn’t be the only disappointing play of the night by those two.
But the Avalanche were playing well and got right the goal right back after Matt Duchene made a great play to skate the puck up ice and fired a hard, low shot off the pads of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. The rebound shot right out to a streaking Jarome Iginla and he buried the put back to tie the game at one.
Matt Irwin scored his first goal as a Predator later in the period almost directly off a face-off in the Avalanche zone. Carl Soderberg, not taking the draw on the play got caught snoozing and left the weak side defenseman all alone for make the game 2-1.
The period ended with the Avalanche down, but you would never have guessed the game would have gotten out of hand at that point. Colorado was leading 16-11 in shots and thoroughly controlling play throughout. Unfortunately the second period happened.
After getting put back on their heels from much of the early going, Carl Soderberg then took a completely unnecessary holding penalty to put Nashville on the power play. Ryan Johansen subsequently fired a wrist shot past Semyon Varlamov for his first goal of the season to make it 3-1.
Unlike the first, you didn’t get the feeling the Avalanche were still in the game. They lost their shot advantage in a significant way by the time the buzzer sounded; and only by the grace of some nifty Varlamov goaltending would Colorado even remain that close.
The third wouldn’t be so kind.
Halfway through Roman Josi would put the game out of reach on a backhand near the net and then Craig Smith would put the game really, really out of reach in transition barely a minute later, burning Patrick Weircioch around the edge and going top-shelf on Varlamov.
It was bad result and it’s not exactly tough to pin it. The third line, consisting of Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, and Rene Bourque was really, incredibly bad tonight—and like more so than they have been. It was truly an inexcusable result from two players who were so consistently decent last season. I’m sure a lot of Avalanche fans are scratching their heads right now just like I am.
Eric Gelinas was also responsible for a number of questionable plays and you gotta wonder how long that’s going to last with Fedor Tyutin getting healthy.
These performances unfortunately overshadowed, perhaps, the best Avalanche player on the ice, rookie Mikko Rantanen, who was exemplary again on the top line. Something will need to get figured out and they’ll need to do it before they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in two nights.