Underachieving Avs Playing Themselves Out Of Playoffs

(Brad Rempel - USA Today Sports)

(Brad Rempel – USA Today Sports)

There are losses, and there are losses like last night that should hurt the Avalanche. This was a disappointing loss to say the least after the Avs came back to tie it in the third period just to lose the game.

After being so calm all season long, one would expect Avalanche coach Patrick Roy to air his team out to the media about this loss being unacceptable. But he didn’t do that. All he did was laud his team for showing fight in tying the game just to lose. He also said the Rangers are a great team by citing they played in the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

Give me a break, Patrick. Enough with the moral victories. It’s Feburary 13th as I type. It’s time to start winning. Two points are precious for a team that is fighting for a playoff spot. A loss does nothing to make things better, especially after the Avs tied it to lose 6-3 to the Rangers last night at the Pepsi Center.

The Avs are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. They are 22-22-11, which is good for seventh in the Central Division. They are eight points out for the last playoff spot after being two points out prior to the four-game losing streak. If they don’t get it going in two weeks, they are not going to make the playoffs.  They would be in such a deficit to get back in it.

The Avs needed to find a way to get that win last night. After a 3-1 deficit to the Rangers to start the third period, they worked hard enough to tie it at 3 in the third period on goals by Jarome Iginla and Jan Hejda. When a team did all they could to tie it, they needed to finish the deal by winning it. Instead, they gave up a goal two minutes later after they tied it, which Carl Hagelin scored to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. There would be no comeback after that.

The Avs unraveled rather than finding a way to tie it at 4. That was as disappointing as giving up the lead again.

This team is mentally soft from watching this team the last two seasons. As good as they were last year, it seemed like when the going gets tough, they tend to unravel at first opportunity. That was obvious in the Avalanche’s playoff series against the Wild last year, especially in Game 7.

They have talent, but in hockey, it’s more than just talent. It’s doing little things like finishing checks, getting the puck, having the stamina to log in so many minutes, blocking shots, not giving second chances, scoring on the power play and clearing the puck. The Avs don’t do these things often. That’s a problem. That’s why they have underachieved this season.

Their young players such as Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly haven’t come up big when it matters. It shows when the Avs are on the power play. This is a team that is 0-for-31 on the power play in the last 10 games.

There are too many games this year the Avs didn’t show up to play. That’s been more frustrating from Roy’s standpoint. As a player, the Avs head coach was a self-starter just like his teammates that played on great Avs’ teams. He was hoping his young players would have that trait. It hasn’t happened.

Too often, the Avs’ core players don’t show up ready to play. That’s an indictment on them. It also should raise questions about their ability to be championship players. That’s why this could get Roy and Avs vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic to wonder if it’s time to break up the core. Those two know what it takes to be a Stanley Cup contender, and they should have good enough read about their players.

One has to wonder if this team has enough to be a playoff team. They certainly don’t have enough to be a Stanley Cup contender. That’s why it may make sense to break up this team this offseason.

There’s a good chance these guys are playing for their future with the Avs in the next few weeks. They have to show Roy and Sakic they are good enough to stay with the team.

The schedule will give these guys to prove themselves. It won’t get any easier for the Avalanche. They play the Stars, Coyotes, Kings, Blackhawks, Lightning, Predators, Stars, Wild, Penguins, Blue Jackets, Wild and Kings. This stretch will either make or break this team altogether. They need to get many wins as they can against elite teams to be in a position to get the last playoff spot.

If not, it’s over for the team.

Rather than fear about the elite teams, it’s time for the Avalanche to man up. They are good enough to beat these teams. The talent is there. It’s about getting it done.

Enough with the excuses. Enough with coddling. Enough with the free passes.

It’s time to show what the Avs can do.

It’s already getting late.

The Avs are on the clock.

Follow or Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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