Stretch Run

With All-Star weekend wrapped up, it's back to business as usual for the Avalanche. 50 games are in the bag and it has been an up and down season thus far. The Avalanche have shown they can score goals but they are very shaky on their own end of the ice. The Avalanche (as of this writing) are 10th in the West and Vancouver has a 17 point lead in the division. At this point the division is lost but the Avalanche will need to find some defense and find some consistency to their game if they want to continue playing hockey into April.

This season has been a rough season so far for the Avalanche defense. Management chose not to address the defense in the offseason and instead were forced to make moves once injuries piled up. Ryan O'Byrne was a great pick up. He is a big body who logs lots of minutes and he has proven to be very effective in his time in Colorado. Matt Hunwick is a different story, however. The Avalanche traded promising prospect Colby Cohen away to get him and he has been disappointing. The Avalanche are now very undersized at defense with Liles, Shattenkirk, Hunwick, and Cumiskey. The season-ending injury to Kyle Quincey definitely hurts, but if the Avalanche want to make the playoffs they may have to add another large defenseman before the trade-deadline. The defense was an issue last year but the Avalanche had reliable goaltending to back it up. That is not the case this year. Craig Anderson played like a mad-man last year but has been mediocre at best so far this season and Peter Budaj continues to prove himself as capable back-up but still not a reliable starter. Anderson's contract is up after this year and he still has time to convince management he IS the goaltender of the future.

The defense and goalie-play aren't the only issues the Avalanche have had this season. The team is very talented but they don't always play up to their talent level. The Avalanche have shown they are resilient when trailing but also that they are lazy with a lead. The Avalanche are going to have to keep up the resiliency when down and play with a killer's instinct when they have a lead the remainder of the season. Most of all the Avalanche will need to improve their play at home and their Penalty Kill which has been awful most of the season.

The Avalanche are still a good team, this isn't meant to be all negative, but at the same time they aren't perfect. Who knows where this team would be without injuries to Quincey, Mueller, and Fleischmann? The Avalanche seem to have the worst luck with injuries but they are a part of the game and they will have to tap into more of their resilient side to make the playoffs. The Western Conference is a mess with all teams but poor Edmonton in the thick of the playoff hunt and every point will be crucial. Will Forsberg decide he's fit to come back and breathe new life into the Avs? Will Anderson turn it around and find his form? And will management try to get involved and add pieces at the deadline? These are just a few of the questions the remainder of the season will answer for us.
Prepare Yourselves.


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