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Takeaways from Avalanche’s latest loss: “We gotta find a way out, and play our asses off”



DALLAS –  Where have all the good times gone?

OK, now it’s starting to get a little bit ridiculous, these same patterns of losing games by the Colorado Avalanche, a team that once seemed like the fair-haired golden boy in all aspects but now is continually getting in trouble.

In four of the last five games the Avs have played, dating to Oct. 26 at home against Anaheim, they have allowed the first two goals of the hockey game. Despite playing pretty well in each game after that, the Avs have lost ’em all, in regulation.

So it went again Tuesday night here at American Airlines Center, where the Avs topped their first-period ineptness of Saturday night in Arizona with an even more fumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ start in a 4-1 loss to the Stars.

Coach Jared Bednar can’t blame this all on his players this time, either. Judging by his reaction on the bench late midway through the second period after his second straight failed challenge of a goal in the game, Bednar didn’t know the new rules this year: for each successive failed challenge of a goal in a game, the penalty isn’t just a two-minute minor – it’s four minutes.

Bednar challenged Radek Faksa’s goal, at 10:54 of the second, on the premise that he knocked in the puck with a broken stick, which is against the rules. Bednar had unsuccessfully challenged Dallas’ first goal, at 19 seconds of the game, which drew a two-minute minor.

But here’s rules change that was implemented this summer:

“Coach’s challenges no longer will be limited based on the availability of a timeout, but a minor penalty for delay of game will be assessed for any failed challenge under any of the three categories. Any subsequent failed challenge will result in a double minor for delay of game.”

Mistakes happen. I remember reading about the rule change over the summer, but it’s easy to forget it in the heat of battle. But there’s no question that lost four minutes of play after the unsuccessful challenge didn’t help matters for Bednar’s club.

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“He shot it, and you can see Faksa’s stick break. So I challenged it for when he touched the puck, should have been a stoppage, playing a puck with a broken stick,” Bednar said. “I had a couple questions for the referee first. Then, when you kind of read through later on, on the rule, you can challenge it for the stoppage, but if it’s a penalty then they can’t overturn the goal. That’s my mistake. I take full blame for that one. If they could have seen that it was broken, then they could have disallowed the goal, but they couldn’t see it and even if it’s on video, it doesn’t matter. It’s a penalty if he plays it, and you can’t overturn the goal.”

Mostly, though, it was just more sloppy, uninspired play at the start of a game that doomed the Avs again. I mean, 19 seconds into the game, it was 1-0, after Sam Girard not only was stripped of a puck behind his net but then compounded the mistake by giving it away again when he got a stick on it. At the 5:46 mark, Philipp Grubauer lost sight of a puck floating around over his head, then flopped in vain as it plopped into milky white smooth ice behind him.

Erik Johnson is DONE with any excuses his team might have over this start:

“It’s losing hockey, playing from behind. You dig a hole, you’re going to have a tough-ass time winning in the NHL,” Johnson said. “What’d we, give up a goal five seconds into the game, 10 seconds into the game tonight? We’ve talked enough. It’s time to go out there and do it right. You can’t lose games like this in a row. We got lucky last year and got away with it, but we don’t want to rely on other teams losing too. We’ve got to find a way out of this. Five, six games in row, what is that?? You gotta be ready to go. It comes from us. If we had the easy button, we’d press it and it’d be over. But we don’t. So, we gotta find a way out and play our asses off.”

J.T. Compher cut the Stars lead in half at 19:24 of the first, and there seemed some real optimism the Avs could turn this thing around entering the second. And it’s not like they didn’t have some chances, getting three separate power plays in the period. That’s where they kept stalling out, through. Right now, the power play just is NOT working.

Then came the Faksa goal – the stick appeared to break AFTER it hit the puck, not before – and the flubbed challenge. The third period was essentially 20 minutes of garbage time.

Just like the first 19 minutes.


  • Avs need to call someone up from the Eagles who can make a little more of a difference than Jayson Megna has made so far, which is…none. Look, it’s not all on him. He’s barely playing. He played just 1:55 in the first two periods. So, what’s the point of him being here?
  • Nazem Kadri took a dumb penalty at 13:03 of the first period. The Avs were on the power play, when Joe Pavelski had a decent short-handed chance. There was a scuffle after Grubauer made the save, but instead of just leaving it alone after a shove or two, Kadri decided to try and drive Pavelski in the boards and take off his helmet. That drew a roughing minor and killed the power play, in a 2-0 game.
  • Vladislav Kamenev got his first point of the season, a nice little back pass to Compher on his goal.
  • Matt Nieto started the game at left wing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi. That’s not working either. Hard to expect a 3rd-4th liner to play in a role like that.
  • It’s just going real bad suddenly, folks. It’s a long season. I’m not panicked or anything. Growing concerned at what I see? Yeah. Some really bad habits are seemingly happening every night lately. Indifferent starts, some bad penalties, not very good situational awareness. Yeah, concerning.
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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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That’s the problem though, AD. Why get penalized for an unsuccessful challenge when the league says they shouldn’t have been able to challenge in the first place? Without talking to Bednar, I don’t know if that is what he was uncertain about, but I wouldn’t blame him if it was. On the broken stick thing, though, I think it still depends on what you think the term “broken stick” means. Stick was obviously bending before he even touched the puck, even if it didn’t actually snap until he shot at the puck. In my opinion, that means it was broken… Read more »


Thanks for adding in Bednar’s quote AD. Just further proves my point. When the league continues to come out with all of these rules that look like they’re written by a toddler, the refs, the players, and the coaches have no idea whatsoever how the rules should be implemented. The league’s official explanation was that Bednar shouldn’t have even been allowed to challenge the goal. Said it doesn’t fit the standards for the rule that he was trying to challenge under, but that as a result he was penalized for something that he shouldn’t have been allowed to do in… Read more »


Ok. Nischuskin will get one next game.

I think Bednar knew the consequence. It was a bad challenge. McNab was 100% sure the stick broke before the shot which was impossible to call. I am curious to know if it was an unchallenge-able call, meaning the refs should have told Bednar he couldn’t challenge and saved us a double major.


It being an unchallengeable call was the NHL’s official explanation. That’s exactly what should have happened, at least according to what the league said afterwards, even though that’s not what the refs said. The refs clearly made a mistake because they don’t understand these poorly written and terrible rules that the league continues to shell out. Half of the things that we complain about the refs doing wrong is because of poorly written and terrible rules, in my opinion. Still wasn’t the main reason the Avs lost the game, but still.


Just got to hope some guys step up to this opportunity or this is going to be rough until Landy and Rantanen are back. Nieto on the 1st line had bad news all over it haha. Gimme some Pujujarvi on the cheap GM Joe…

Mike Fisk

Looks like the Av’s are getting their usual mid season swoon out of the way early this year, at least I hope so!


I should upfront I haven’t been a fan of coach Bendar from day one. I blame this game and the last few games with Landy and Rantanen out on him. He doesn’t allow a line to be together any length of time to gain any chemistry, which has shown in the bad passing in both ends of the ice. Add to the fact that Mackinnon is still centering the first line who has always had Gabe take the defensive responsibility from the wing for Mackinnon can do his thing. The guys he is throwing with Nate are not prepared for… Read more »



Dwayne Hall

Broken stick or not, that didn’t cost them that game. I don’t feel like the way they were playing they could’ve added a goal had that been disallowed.

Luke Waggoner

If the league came out and said it shouldn’t have been challengeable, then that’s on the refs in the game. They should have told Bednar he couldn’t challenge on that basis.

As far as the actual play goes, I would describe it similarly to if a player’s stick breaks shooting a puck, and it goes in. The stick may have been broken before he shot the puck, but it wasn’t behaving like a broken stick until he put stress on it.

Luke Waggoner

AD, do you think part of the Avs problems on the PP are because they are a team that is built to score off the rush, not one that gets set up in the zone and moves the puck around to score?

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