I don't know about you guys, but I'll take wins over losses any day of the week. Especially division wins, road wins, and comeback wins. For a game that had all three, that's gotta mean SOMETHING, right? MacKinnon has emerged from his fall hibernation and has put the team on his back. Duchene's return is eminent. Landeskog hopefully isn't far behind. Varly has played several games in a row in pretty damn good fashion. Rantanen and Greer look primed for Big Show duties and we've seen a improvement in most possession metrics too! We have reason to be optimistic, right?
Part of me really wants to believe. And while all of the above are positive signs, there's still something nagging at me. Like a suspicion that the weird rash is probably something serious, I just can't shake the feeling that this new 'good hockey' facade is paper-thin.
So far this season we've seen extended droughts where the team can't score goals. Not one or two guys, THE ENTIRE TEAM. We've seen new systems get tossed out the window when the most minuscule amount of pressure is applied. Now, I'm not talking "Einhorn is Finkle" pressure, I'm talking about ninja-on-rice-paper pressure. Just the tiniest hint at times and we go back to Chiptown. We've seen good depth players become black holes of depressing ineptitude after a tantalizing cock-tease in the first game of the season and a center who's checked out like he's a high school senior and the last week of the school year has rolled around. Johnson appears to be getting saddled with the old guy again, Zadarov is on nacho duty, and nobody knows how to prevent or defend a 2-on-1. Effort and preparedness are still on-going problems too.
What's the real deal? Nobody thought we'd be anything more than a .500 team this season and so far, they've delivered. But the nuggets of pure awesome are tantalizing. Are the missteps correctable? Can things improve? Can a solid culture be built throughout the season so that when we jettison some dead weight in the summer they're ready to pull an Optimus Prime and "ROLL OUT!"?
The reality is that we may have already seen what we're going to see as the pages continue to come off the calendar. Streaky is just another word for inconsistent and this team has that in spades. I expect effort to wax and wane throughout an 82-game season, but I don't think I'm crazy to expect that players show up at least every other game!
That said, the schedule gives the Avalanche 5 games at home over the next couple of weeks with no back-to-backs until December 10th. I know that home ice has been the catalyst for some truly horrific games, but a good showing against the BJ's followed by beating up on Edmonton and Vancouver could be the jumping on point for a good string of confidence for this team by both the players and the fans. The Avs need to get healthy during this homestand and win three or more games because the rest of December will be telling with lots of games in tough barns. They need to build some momentum to finish out 2016, or we'll be looking at expansion draft prep and lots of lots of AHL tryouts by the end of January.