A suddenly reeling Colorado Avalanche squad took their show on the road to Canada in search of their first win in 2023. While the Avalanche built up a two-goal lead, a horrible five minute stretch in the second period led to collapse and a 4-2 Vancouver Canucks victory.
It was a relatively quiet first period with the teams trading two power play chances and 13 shots on goal each. Finally, Mikko Rantanen looking to prove himself worthy of an all-star nod got the visitors on the board with one minute left of play on his 26th tally of the season and Colorado headed into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. The only other noteworthy event was Denis Malgin left the game early in the period with what has been deemed an upper body injury and did not return.
Everything was going the Avalanche’s way in the second frame as some crucial depth scoring materialized when Sam Girard added to their lead with a puck that had eyes and went into the Vancouver goal at 1:49. With the two score lead it seemed the squad had built enough momentum to finally have a game go their way but then the penalty parade happened. Some calls certainly seemed like there was a tighter standard on the Avalanche and by Vancouver’s fifth power play the dam broke.
A failed clear on the ensuing penalty kill which went off the official led to Vancouver’s first score from Andrei Kuzmenko at 13:25. Andrew Cogliano decided to vent his frustrations took a 10 minute misconduct and took the Avalanche down to only nine forwards in the game at that point. Capitalizing on this turn of events was Kuzmenko who found the back of the net again just two minutes later and the game was tied 2-2.
The disaster of a second period wasn’t yet complete until Vancouver took the 3-2 lead at 15:48. In near perfect display of all the things going wrong for Colorado encapsulated in one play both Cale Makar and Devon Toews made ghastly turnovers deep in their own zone which lead to Brock Boeser uncovered in the slot and that was the game. Alexandar Georgiev knew it as he turned around and forcefully whacked his goalie stick on the crossbar for emphasis.
For the third period the Avalanche basically went through the motions with brief flickers of life as they tried to create the equalizer. This game felt like they were down more than one goal and right now digging out of any sort of deficit is a big mountain to climb. A feeble attempt with the net empty gave Vancouver their fourth score from JT Miller and Vancouver sewed up their 4-2 victory.
Now with the fifth loss in a row coming out of the holiday break it’s clear the three days off halted whatever fumes the Avalanche were running on as the team looks mentally fatigued and stuck in second gear. Whenever faced with any adversity the team is starting to implode and it is lasting for entire periods which is costing games. Bednar has always leaned on his top players but burnout and the lack of depth seem to becoming key factors in these losses. Before the lineup and injury problems were depressing 5-on-5 scoring but now it is leading to several blown leads and collapses when the Avalanche are able to get on the scoreboard.
#Avs top line and pairing ice times the past three games:— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 6, 2023
MacKinnon: 22:19 (TOR), 27:07 (LV), 25:55 (VAN)
Rantanen: 20:35, 27:13, 25:57
Lehkonen: 20:06, 23:57, 23:14
Makar: 25:35, 27:54, 30:17
Toews: 24:34, 27:55, 26:45
All are, by far, averaging the most ATOI of their careers
The team hasn’t dressed 12 actual forwards in the lineup for a month and have been jumbling the lines every shift. Losing someone in-game seemingly every other contest doesn’t help cohesion and chemistry but no consistency shift to shift seems to be taking it’s toll as well. Kurtis MacDermid dressed as a “forward” played all of four shifts for 2:47 of time on ice. At this point an immobile Gabe Landeskog just cheering on and leading from the bench would be a more valuable use of a roster spot. The idea is obviously to patch things through until reinforcements arrive but the Avalanche are now at a critical juncture in their season and no guarantees with what “healthy” might even look like.
Another game in the great north in a playoff rematch against the Edmonton Oilers at 8 p.m. MT on Saturday, January 7th.