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Scott Takes: Confused and out of shape, Avalanche has to pull himself together quickly




These are all adjectives I would use to describe Colorado Avalanche hockey beginning 2021-22, a year in which the Avs are — or were — considered favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment.

But I’ll say something very obvious: there are 76 games left in the season. Last year’s team, a club that ended the shortened regular season with the best record in the league and a consolation prize called the Presidents’ Trophy, started the season 2-3-1 in the first six games.

After Colorado went down at home to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Colorado’s record shrank to 2-4 to start the year. So the point here is that there is time. How much of it? Well, that depends. You’d be surprised how hard it is to fight back after just two games with 76 games left.

am i worried Not quite. Is there at least some writing on the wall? Yes. As colleague Terry Frei said, something just doesn’t feel right. I have to agree.

Look, we can find every excuse in the book. The Avs weren’t entirely healthy. Sure, but that’s life in Avalanche hockey – you should be used to it by now. There has been a huge discrepancy in calls (or non-calls) against my poor innocent Avs this year – it’s just not fair! No more hurt-me attitude, my friends.

No one in the Avalanche organization makes those excuses. You’re better than that. You’ll play out that slow start that every athlete is programmed to do. They’ll give you the ‘we’re not worried’ schtick, or ‘there’s still plenty of time in the year to fix this ship’, as Cale Makar mentioned last night after commenting on the team’s slow start to the season was asked .

And yes, there is still time, for sure. But like I said, even a two-game backlog this early in the season can take weeks or months to clear. Jared Bednar knows that too. “We’ll see how long it takes us to get back (to .500). Could be seven days, could be 10, could be a month, I don’t know,” he said after Tuesday’s defeat.

We do not know it.

And judging by the way the season has started, it might take longer for them to bounce back to .500 hockey.

The Avs have conceded the sixth-most (tie) goals against opponents while scoring the fifth-fewest (also tie) this year. The power play is the third worst in the league. PK is in midfield. The Avalanche are among the bottom performers when it comes to average shots per game (which is usually one of their strengths) and tops the list when it comes to allowed shots.

These are all trends you don’t want to see. But I’ll repeat it again: Yes, we’re only six games a year. But trends and patterns are things that people naturally pick up on, and I sense some bad patterns.

This year’s Colorado Avalanche Club doesn’t have the firepower it had last year. The hope was that it wouldn’t be that big of a regression, but again, no favorable trend is showing. At least not now.

Alex Newhook, who was expected to be pushing for a top-six role in training camp, fell flat and was sent to the Eagles almost immediately. Martin Kaut, Newhook’s backup, doesn’t look like an NHL hockey player. The Avs bottom six have scored a total of three goals. On the back, leaders like Makar continue to look stunned (team high minus nine to six games). Ryan Murray looks like a traffic cone, and for some reason Coach Bednar continues to ride Kurtis MacDermid for seven minutes a night.

“What should we do?” Bednar asked rhetorically about playing MacDermid. “I mean we’re playing the best line-up that we think is going to win tonight with the opportunities that we have.”

And that’s the relevant part. If these are truly “the best lineup” and options that Bednar believes, then I expect this negative trend we’re seeing to continue to weaken. And for a coach who’s on a contract year – and probably feeling his seat heating up – I understand the frustration. The Avalanche really lack the depth at all positions to compete with last year’s Avs team. But Bednar has to make do with everything he has. Whatever it is.

Look, slow starts aren’t new to the Avalanche. You know that by now. Do I expect the Avs to end the year below 500? No, I think they’re a better team than that. But right now, it looks like a team whose cap is probably just a few games above average. Maybe enough to just squeeze into the postseason.

However, this is a better team than one that “squashes”. At the moment this looks like a trust issue to me. You now look confused and disturbed. I have faith that the Avalanche will pull it together.

But it has to be quick… 82 games really do fly by.

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