With so many elite teams in the Western Conference, it is paramount that each team does whatever it can to keep pace in the very tight conference.
This is a conference that has the likes of the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, and several other elite clubs. If your team has a prolonged losing streak, it could end up costing them in the end.
The Colorado Avalanche are one such team that is really struggling. As of this writing, the team is 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, with those six losses coming consecutively.
Despite their poor play in their last 10 games, the Avs are very luck to find themselves in the first wild card spot with 48 points (20-15-8) going into their game against the red hot Flames on January 9. The team is lucky that they got off to a good start because if they didn’t, who knows where they’d be sitting.
There are a few reasons why this team is currently not playing well. For starters, this team is struggling to keep the puck out of the net.
The Avs are currently 22nd in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 135 goals in 43 games. They are allowing just over three goals a game and while that’s not terrible, it certainly is not great.
The team’s goaltending has been less than stellar this season. While both Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer were not expected to be all-stars this year, they were both expected to provide consistent goaltending and as of this writing (January 9) least, they have not been able do that up to this point in the season.
Varlamov, 30, who has missed a few games with a lower-body injury and is due back on January 9, has only been okay this season. He is currently 11-8-5 with a 2.80 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage, and one shutout.
Varlamov’s problem has always been injuries. When healthy, he is an above average starter who gives his team the best chance to win hockey games.
Grubauer, on the other hand, has been dreadful this season. As of this writing, Grubauer, 27, is 9-5-3 with a 3.29 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.
The team acquired Grubauer in the off-season with hopes that he would challenge Varlamov for more playing time. With that said, however, the way he has played this season does not warrant more time between the pipes because while he does have nine wins, his actual play has not been good.
Another problem this team has had this season is that they are having trouble killing penalties. The team is currently 26th in the league in that category and if they continue to struggle in this area, it could come back to haunt them come spring time.
Lastly, after the likes of Mikko Rantanen (66 points), Nathan MacKinnon (65 points), and Gabriel Landeskog (59 points), the team’s scoring goes way down. After Landeskog, the next highest point total is 32 and that belongs to defenseman Tyson Barrie as the next forward has just 25 points (Carl Soderberg).
If this team wants to get back on track and solidify a playoff position come April, they are going to need to do a better job defensively, get better goaltending, and get more scoring other than their top line.
If the club can do these three things, there is no reason why they should not be a legit contender at the most important time of the season.