Opening Night Loss Raises Early Concerns for Colorado Avalanche


Oct 9, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) makes a save at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Avalanche 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

It would be a mistake to overreact to the Colorado Avalanche and their opening night disaster in Minnesota on Thursday night. For those of you who missed it, it was a 5-0 final and it wasn’t that close.

There are 81 games left and reading too much into any one game is always dangerous but there are some things that are concerning, and must be addressed.

The first issue is the same one that plagued the Avalanche at time last season and that’s the number of shots they gave up. The Wild finished the night with 48 shots on goal while the Avalanche only managed 16. They are not going to win many games with that big of a shot differential.

If you just saw the final score you would assume that goalie Semyon Varlamov was terrible and while he wasn’t great, the score would have been a lot worse had he not played well at times. The issue, as it was in the playoffs last season, is the support or lack of support that Varlamov is getting.

Time and time again there are open guys in front of the net or in the slot. If you let players roam in front of the net without paying a price, then it’s going to be a long night for any goalie.

The biggest thing that concerned me going into this season was the defensemen. The Avalanche really didn’t do much to get better on the blue-line in the offseason and they still do not have that one guy who can shut down the opponent’s best player.

They rely on a team defense approach and that’s fine but it’s only going to work with great communication and effort. I can’t speak to the communication on Thursday night but the effort was pathetic. There were Wild players open all night and it seemed like every time I looked up, there was another odd man rush.

Going forward, the Avalanche must clean up their play in front of their own net and make sure there are in the right position. If they continue to give up 40+ shots a game, then this is going to be a very long season.

Offensively, the Avalanche are going to be fine. They have way too much talent not to score goals. However the power play on Thursday night was awful. The Avalanche often get caught trying to make the perfect pass that leads to the highlight goal. They spent a majority of their four power plays passing the puck around the outside looking for that perfect play. I got news for the Avalanche, the Wild and every other opponent is going to let them do that all day.

When the Avalanche signed Jarome Iginla, it was believed that his presence would give the Avalanche a presence in front of the net. Someone who would camp out in front of the goalie and be there for tips and rebounds. The Avalanche win with speed but they have to be tougher in front of the net on both sides of the ice if they are going to accomplish their goals.

Now as mentioned earlier, it’s only one game and reading too much into it is not a good idea. If this had been a game in the middle of a five game road trip in the middle of February, people would just write it off as one of those nights. However it was the season opener though and the effort was disappointing because of that.

The Avalanche get another chance at the Wild on Saturday night in their home opener. There’s a lot of room for improvement but it has to start with effort.