Colorado Avalanche: Can They Make a Run to the NHL Playoffs?

Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It has been a shocking fall for the Colorado Avalanche.  When last we checked-in, we were mentioning things like the President’s Trophy.

In a free-fall that rivals the Colorado Buffaloes 2018 season, the Colorado Avalanche now sit in 11th place in the Western Conference, three points behind the eighth-seeded Minnesota Wild.  Not only has the team fallen into disarray, former league leader Mikko Rantanen has dropped to fifth in scoring, Nathan MacKinnon, seventh.

Semyon Varlamov, among the league leaders in Goals Against Average has dropped to 29th, Philipp Grubauer is 47th.  Save Percentage, you say?  GAA isn’t an accurate predictor of goalie performance?  Varly (.906) is 30th and Grubauer (.890) dead last in save percentage.

Defensively the penalty kill ranks 28th in the league. They surrender 31.1 shots per game, good for 16th.

Those numbers are grim particularly considering where the Avalanche were at the NHL All-Star break.  They are free-falling in a surreal manner.  The thing is, not only are they losing, they are losing badly, hardly seeming competitive.

The Colorado Avalanche have become sellers as the trade deadline approaches and have been rumored to be entertaining offers for defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Before Monday night’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights word came down that presumed superstar MacKinnon has been dropped to the second power play unit.

The thing is, it’s not like the Avalanche have played terrible hockey, Varlamov made 30 saves on Saturday against St. Louis, a 3-0 loss, there just wasn’t enough support, offensively or defensively.  Every game, it seems one aspect of Colorado’s game fails them.  One night it’s the PK, then goaltending, then the Avs get shut-out.  It’s been a crazy fall.

So the question at the top of the article remains, can the Colorado Avalanche pull it together enough to make the playoffs this season?

The easy answer is sure, they’re only three points out of the eighth spot and they have 24 games to play.  Plenty of time for a resurgence.

The harder answer is no, no way, they are so far down the rabbit hole they’ve created for themselves that it would take a fundamental reset of the roster and their play together to generate enough wins to jump over three teams in just 24 games.  The team is disjointed, they play nothing like their Pepsi Center roommates, the Denver Nuggets.  The Nuggets have built a special season on the idea of team and continuity.  Two things the Avalanche are sorely in need of.

That makes the answer to our question somewhere in-between.  While it’s possible the Avs could rally for a postseason berth, considering their play over what’s now an extended time, it seems highly unlikely.