The Colorado Avalanche’s October performance came as a pleasant surprise to their fans. The Avs went a solid 7-4-0 in October which was a great start for them given the expectations set for them at the beginning of the season. However their November has been less than flattering thus far going just 2-8-1.
The team’s play has plummeted. The Avs start has been chalked up to a hot streak and a team playing over their heads. The team’s performance as a whole has been lackluster. With the players that are expected to carry the team underperforming the Avs look to have more rough times ahead. The Avs core of players just isn’t getting the job done. Players like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk are expected to be the key cogs in the offense of the Avalanche. However this season thus far they have all fallen below what should be expected from them. While rookie Gabriel Landeskog has looked very good for his inexperience and is one of a few bright spots for the Avs, the same cannot be said for recent acquisition defenceman Erik Johnson. Johnson has stumbled as he is currently a minus 12 and struggling to produce offensive numbers. Not what you expect when you consider Johnson was a former first overall pick and his acquisition cost the Avs promising young players like Christ Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.
The Avs are also dealing with the issue of who to start in goal on a nightly basis. A problem General Manager Greg Sherman expected to have solved this summer. However the acquisition of Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals has not put that worry to bed just yet as Varlamov has been inconsistent and is being outplayed by his elder Jean-Sebastian Giguere.
Not all the blame can be placed on the players. Some cases of poor team management and coaching may have set the team back further than it put it ahead. The two aforementioned trades with St. Louis and Washington run the risk of becoming trades that aren’t looked back on fondly. The trade with Washington for Varlamov that included the Avs first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft now looks worse every time the Avs slide a place back in the standings. By the time the Draft Lottery takes place in April the Avs may have traded a Top Five selection in a talent rich draft for a young struggling goaltender. You can’t look at the General Manager without looking at the coach. Joe Sacco got the team off to a great start, but has faltered. While the teams power play has been great their penalty kill leaves much to be desired. With the team currently sitting twelfth in the Western Conference with a minus 12 goal differential, if an improvement doesn’t occur Joe Sacco could be relieved of his job as Head Coach of the Colorado Avalanche.
The first quarter of the season has passed and the Avalanche still have loads of question marks surrounding them. While they aren’t as good as their start suggests, are they really as bad as they’re playing now? How does Sherman shake the team up? Can the Avs key players step it back up? I guess that’s what the other three quarters of the season will answer for us.