The Colorado Avalanche were already facing a tough road at the start of the season without having re-signed the team’s leading scorer from a season ago, Ryan O’Reilly. Things got a bit more difficult when Steve Downie went down with a torn ACL after the home opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Now, to make matters worse, Avalanche captain and leading goal-scorer from a season ago, Gabriel Landeskog, is listed as out indefinitely according to Denver Post beat writer, Adrain Dater. According to Dater, the Avalanche would not confirm that Landeskog had suffered a concussion, simply citing head and leg injuries as the injuries keeping him sidelined.
Team Must Respond Better
This will be a huge test for Colorado’s ability to overcome adversity, and they will have to show that they are more capable of doing this than they did against San Jose. After Brad Stuart laid an elbow into Landskog’s face, the Avalanche seemed to drop their physical play and almost laid down. Yes, it’s hard to keep going after a devastating play like that, especially when it immediately resulted in two goals going in your own net, but the team needs to show more fight. With Colorado’s next four games being divisional games, they won’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves because Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver sure won’t. If Colorado wants to make certain they are still in the playoff picture towards the end of the year they need to respond right away.
How does Landeskog’s Injury Affect the Lineup
For one thing, if they weren’t already feeling a lot of pressure to do so, the Avalanche really need to make a stronger push to sign Ryan O’Reilly. As it stands, Colorado is now missing an entire line from a season ago that produced a lot of points for them in O’Reilly, Downie and Landeskog. There is little doubt that we’ll begin to see some juggling of the lineup.
One thing that seems rather certain to happen is Milan Hejduk will more than likely be moved onto Matt Duchene’s line with P.A. Parenteau. This should still create a very talented line, but you just never know how guys will click together. Hopefully Hejduk can keep up his solid play and contribute back on the top line.
Chuck Kobasew is more than likely a regular in the lineup now, and might slide into Hejduk’s place in the third line or move into the fourth line. Chances are this will rotate a bit, depending on how well a particular individual is playing, but Cody McLeod has been seeing some extra ice-time of late and it shouldn’t be a crazy thought to see him moved up to the third line for a bit.
If the Avalanche wanted to shake things up a little bit, it might not be a bad time for them to call up youngster Michael Sgarbossa from Lake Erie. He’s played fantastically well for the Lake Erie Monsters this season, tallying 36 points in 38 games (16 goals, 20 assists), and was very impressive in the brief training camp before the season. He wouldn’t come right into the top line, but might perform well on the third line, or even provide a much needed spark for the struggling second line.
Other Players Must Step Up
As I said above, no other teams are going to feel sorry for the Avalanche, so the players who are still in the lineup need to step it up. Most notably, the entire second line of Paul Stastny, Jamie McGinn and David Jones need to get something going. David Jones is the only player on that line that has a goal right now and that simply isn’t good enough.
They have gotten chances, Jamie McGinn getting the best ones, and just simply haven’t been able to put anything in the net. If the Avalanche are to remain competitive, Stastny and crew are going to have to get better.
It’s very early in the season, but the Avalanche are already in the middle of a great deal of adversity. If this team wishes to turn the corner and once again become one of the most competitive teams in the NHL, then they have to deal with it like a top-level team would. Otherwise, they’ll be on the outside looking in once again.