Colorado Avalanche: Checking in on Playoff Hopes

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

When last we touched base with the Colorado Avalanche, we claimed that it would be very difficult for them to secure a playoff spot.

Since that check-in the Colorado Avalanche have seen the addition of Derick Brassard via trade with the Florida Panthers and the subtraction of team captain Gabriel Landeskog, out for what amounts to the rest of the season with an upper-body injury.

When we looked at the Avs situation then, they sat in 11th place, three points out of eighth.  As of Monday night’s action, Colorado had moved only to 10th. two points behind the eight seed.  It has not been enough and as we predicted then, it is unlikely that the Avalanche make the playoffs this season.

It has been an incredible fall for a team that was competing for the top spot in the NHL as late as December.  During that time, Colorado boasted the top scorer in the NHL in Mikko Rantanen and the top goal-scorer in Nathan MacKinnon.  Rantanen has matched the Avs plummet and currently sits seventh in points.  MacKinnon has dropped to 10th in goals.

Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer sit 28th and 42nd, respectively in save percentage, down from top-10 standing for both.  Goals against is similar, with Varly 27th and Grubauer 42nd.  There’s little positive that can be taken from the second half of the Avs season, it’s been a historical collapse.

Coach Jared Bednar almost has to be on the proverbial hot-seat, his merry band of overachievers over the last two seasons has turned into a supreme disappointment, with expectations that the Avs were on the verge of competing for Colorado’s third Stanley Cup.

Dreams of Mac, Landy and Rantanen becoming the reincarnation of  Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Claude Lemieux (Valeri Kamensky?) have fallen flat and the Avalanche have far more questions than answers heading into another offseason of disappointment. There must be upgrades on the blue line, in net and for the third and fourth line forwards.

Coaching is going to have to answer for the collapse and it’d be surprising if Bednar holds on to his job.  The Avalanche coaching carousel has rivaled the Broncos over the last few years and while it’s not desirable to suffer yet another coaching change, the performance of the Avs in the second half can’t be excused.

A glance across the hall and you can see how quickly Denver fans gravitate to winners, the city has long had a love affair with the Avs.  They did, after all, provide us our first major championship with the 1996 Stanley Cup.  Fans are savvy, though and will not suffer underachieving teams.  The Avs are on the verge of becoming an afterthought in the smallest market to carry the four major, professional franchises.

Something needs to change.