The Colorado Avalanche are mired in their first rough patch of the season, losing 4-1 to the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center.
The loss touches on a couple of concerns we’ve had for this Colorado Avalanche squad over the mostly successful beginning of the season. This team relies too heavily on goaltending and top-line scoring.
It’s been a great look, seeing Semyon Varlamov start out with crazy numbers like a 1.23 GAA and .950 save percentage before giving up 10 goals in his last two starts and seeing those stats come back to the pack. The Avalanche currently hold the seventh-worst shots against at 33.5. That’s a lot of shots, even for stout goaltenders like Varly and Philipp Grubauer.
Part of the problem, as much as it pains to say, has been Erik Johnson. It seems like the prowess the former top pick possessed was robbed of him by injury. Age is catching up to the big Avs blueliner, at 30 he may be showing the cruel ravages of time and injury.
Consider that Nashville center Colton Sissons has 26 goals in his five-year career with Nashville. Three of those 26 came last night, courtesy of the Avalanche. It’s painful to watch a journeyman, third-line type guy net a hat-trick against a team that’s vying for a lot more than just a playoff berth.
Beyond defense, the Avalanche have an issue with scoring. Matt Calvert netted his first goal of the season, a power-play tally to bring Colorado within one in the mid-second period. Nathan MacKinnon notched an assist on the goal but other than that the top line was held in check.
Of minor concern is the Avalanche’s faceoff performance. While they did okay against Nashville, winning 47% of their faceoffs, the Avs are on the wrong side of that ledger in every game. Anyone that’s played or knows hockey knows that the details matter. Faceoff wins matter and Colorado is going to need to see production beyond MacKinnon on that front.
It’s difficult to know how to feel about this mini-swoon that Colorado has found itself in. The Avalanche aren’t particularly overwhelmed with injury at this point, it’s going to be a matter of every player on the roster paying attention to those details that win hockey games.