The identity I thought the Colorado Avalanche were forming has taken quite a hit. Since their wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Avs lost captain Gabriel Landeskog, dropped three games in-a-row –including two shutouts- won two and lost another. Their identity must’ve been lost along the way to San Jose, or was left on the ice after Brad Stuart put Landeskog on it.
Colorado’s weaknesses are more apparent without the likes of Landeskog, Steve Downie, Ryan Wilson or still MIA, Ryan O’Reilly. Their power play has been lacking for some time now, being quite underwhelming with a man advantage. They can manage a good penalty kill, only so long as the other squad doesn’t swarm because the Avs defense –full strength or not- looks lousy when overwhelmed. Without three of their top forwards the Avs have become lost, and it shows.
The Avs can play a tough game when they want to; they showed up well against Calgary and further cemented P.A. Parenteau as one of the new leaders on the ice. It will take more than a few highlight plays from the likes of Parenteau, Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny to keep Colorado out of the division basement. Luckily Colorado’s goaltender Semyon Varlamov is looking more comfortable in net after a shaky 2011-12 season.
The Avs have to hope that Landeskog returns healthy ASAP. With injuries mounting, the Avs stuck their finger in the leak by picking up Aaron Palushaj off of waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.It would be in their best interest to offer O’Reilly a contract acceptable to him, but both parties are at a stalemate with no one willing to budge. The hopes of O’Reilly returning to the Avs look to be slim-to-none as O’Reilly wants a larger salary than Duchene, and the Avs won’t offer more than $3.5 million a season.
Colorado can ill afford to watch Minnesota and Edmonton rise to the top so quickly. Time is short and the Avs won’t make the playoffs without their top forwards. They are lucky to be 4-5-0 at this point without Landeskog, Downie and Wilson thanks to home games where Colorado is 3-1-0.
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