Whatever drink the Colorado Avalanche put in the Stanley Cup has left a significant hangover.
The Avs are in deep, deep trouble. They’ve lost five straight, the most recent against a struggling Vancouver Canucks 4-2. They gave up four unanswered goals and did everything so much better than Colorado did. While the locker room has said they aren’t pointing fingers and feeling confident, they’ve got to be feeling the pressure now. The message has been “there is nothing to worry about, just give it some time and it will be okay,” this message is getting old and seems less believable.
Bednar: "I don't think our team deserved a better fate that what we got [tonight]." #GoAvsGo— z-AvsBurgundyReview (@AvsBRblog) January 6, 2023
This is the first time the Avs had lost five straight games since October/November 2019, when Colorado was just a team on the up and up trying to make it into the playoffs. Now, they sit two points out of the second wild card spot behind the Calgary Flames, and more importantly five points behind the third-place team in the Central Division, the Minnesota Wild.
Yes, it’s time to start looking at the playoff race more closely now. We’re almost at the halfway point of the season, and there are going to have to be decisions made on what happens with the team as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches. Will they be sellers and try to coup a couple of draft picks in what is a stacked draft class? Or, do they continue to prove they are going to try and compete and acquire talent with the limited assets they have and be willing to move some to get some more?
The Avalanche need a jolt. With no timetable on Landeskog's return, it's time for a big trade. We know Joe Sakic's got that up his sleeve, but hopefully he pulls the trigger soon. #GoAvsGo— Will Petersen (@PetersenWill) January 6, 2023
There are plenty of reasons this is happening. Injuries continue to wreck this team, including another name being added to the list Thursday night with Denis Malgin having a UBI. There is no leader on this team, with Gabriel Landeskog still out of the lineup for at least another three weeks. There is no drive outside of Mikko Rantanen, with Valeri Nichushkin still out. The AHL call-ups have not done their part. This is a one-line team at the moment, with no depth.
Specifically, with depth, the top six and top defensive pair have scored 216 of the Avs’ points. Outside of those eight players, the team members have combined for only 64 points. This will not win you back-to-back Stanley Cups. There is nothing surfacing for Colorado outside of the first line, and depth is what you look for at times like these. They have nothing to rely on.
Players that registered zero shots on goal tonight:— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) January 6, 2023
Denis Malgin (injured early)
7/12 of their forward core didn’t get a shot on net. You cannot win like this.
Furthermore, goaltending has been a letdown. Alexandar Georgiev has played in 10 straight games and has to be feeling the heat, especially when the team in front of him has collapsed. This was demonstrated when he smashed his stick over the crossbar after Devon Toews and Cale Makar failed to clear an easy puck out of the zone, leading to the game-winning goal for Vancouver, screaming at Makar for what had happened. Pavel Francouz is still sidelined and unable to back him up best as possible, and throwing in Jonas Johansson will not make him or the team feel any better either.
“georgie it’s just me and you, babe it’s okay, baby look at me it’s just us, you can do this i promise” pic.twitter.com/cGgfEbAvgE— scc m (@ivyjost) January 6, 2023
Looking ahead, it won’t get any easier for Colorado. Of course, they’ve been playing often shorthanded and against some solid teams. They play the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night - who are also in the middle of the wild card race - before playing the likes of the Florida Panthers, Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, Canucks again, and Seattle Kraken.
If you look at the slate of upcoming games, I believe four of those games are winnable. Otherwise, those that are within reach of the races for the playoffs in both conferences will also be going for broke as the Avalanche will be too. It’s going to be a challenge to stay at .500 with performances like we’ve seen as of late, with the personnel available.
The Avs need to have a long and thoughtful look at themselves in the mirror. They need to find identity and fight within themselves to crawl back up into the playoff race. They need to find someone who will step up in a big way to make it happen. They need to find some fight in them. They need to demonstrate they’re more than just a one-line team. They need to show they are not going to go away quietly. They need to show they are the Stanley Cup champions for a reason.
They need to show everyone who the Colorado Avalanche really are.