Their Putrid Offense Will Keep the Colorado Avalanche Home for the Playoffs


Feb 3, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the overtime shootout at the American Airlines Center. The Avalanche defeat the Stars 3-2 in the overtime shootout. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the season started for the Colorado Avalanche, I was concerned that the team might take a step backwards in 2014-15. As good as they were last season, they skipped some steps in the rebuilding process and I thought that might catch up with them this season.

While there was a part of me that expected the Avalanche to take a step back before going forward again next season, the nature of their struggles is shocking to me.

It never dawned on me, not even for an instant that they would be scuffling because of their inability to score. I wrote before the season started that the Avalanche did not do nearly enough to upgrade their defense, and I thought that would be their downfall.

While their defense is not great, it has certainly been good enough to win more games than they are winning. Erik Johnson is enjoying the best season of his career and has also provided an offensive threat from the blue line. The other defensemen, for the most part, have played solid, fundamental hockey and have been really good as of late.

Semyon Varlamov has been the best goalie in the league for the last two months and should honestly considering suing his offensive teammate for lack of support.

The Avalanche simply cannot score to save their lives; they’ve been shutout in each of their past two games. In both of those games, Varlamov surrendered one goal (not counting empty netters.) The Avalanche, with their offensive talent, should never lose a 1-0 game. Losing back-to-back 1-0 games is inexcusable.

So where do the problems start? For me it starts and ends with the individual talent that is simply not producing. Team wise, the Avalanche are doing the same things they were doing in 2013-14 but the results have not been the same.

It starts with the elephant in the rink, Paul Stastny should still be in an Avalanche sweater. His departure to the St. Louis Blues has disrupted the offensive chemistry of the Avalanche. When they needed a goal or someone to make a play that led to a goal, Stastny always stepped up.

Eventually we will move on from this but right now the decision to keep Ryan O’Reilly and let Stastny walk has been a fatal one. Jarome Iginla has had a great career but he has struggled to get in the flow with the Avalanche.

The crux of the problem though falls on the three players who are supposed to be the foundation of the Avalanche. Both Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon have failed to deliver this season. They should be leading the Avalanche in goals with Matt Duchene raking up the assists. Needless to say, that’s not happening.

I’ll give MacKinnon more of a pass because he is still only 19 and teams have focused on him this season. I believe he will eventually adjust and become a dominant player in the league. Landeskog is a different story. I love his leadership on and off the ice but he’s not producing on the ice. He only has 31 points through 53 games and I can’t remember the last big goal he scored. Landeskog is supposed to be an elite scorer in the NHL and until he starts scoring, the Avalanche are going to continue to struggle offensively.

Duchene also only has 31 points which means two of the top offensive players for the Avalanche have a total of 62 points in February. They should have hit 62 points combined sometime in December. If the Avalanche are going to break out of this season long slump, then those three have to break out of their individual slumps.

Adding to the offensive woes is a power play that is among the worst in hockey. They are scoring on only 12% of their power plays and are on a current 0 for their last 24. Those are atrocious numbers for a team with seemingly a lot of offensive talent.

While other teams manage to get the power play set up with relative ease, the Avalanche look like they’ve never even practiced it. You would think they would score on a power play just once, by accident, in 24 attempts.

The sad thing is the fact the Avalanche are at their best offensively when they pull their goalie at the end of the game in an effort to tie it. It baffles me why they look so good when it’s 6 on 5 but so bad when it is 5 on 4. Maybe Patrick Roy should think about pulling the goalie at the end of every period because it’s the only way they can score.

The fact the Avalanche are not going to make the playoffs this season does not surprise me but the fact they cannot score goals is shocking. It’s that inability to score that will have the Avalanche on the golf course in mid-April.