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Dater Column: Constant Injuries Have Avs Fans On Their Last Nerve

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Tony Avelar/AP

You can’t blame Avalanche fans for being jumpier than a bunch of long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. Right before every game, it seems, there’s another jump-scare for Avs fans. Tonight, it was “No Cale Makar, upper-body injury.”

Earlier in the day, it was “Nazem Kadri, lower-body injury.”

Then came overtime in Ottawa tonight, and you knew that would be a horror show. One thing shinily, abundantly clear by now in the Jared Bednar era: “Thou Avalanche will notteth winnith in overtimeith.”

The game: Despite winning the opening faceoff, the Avs found a new way to lose early in an overtime game. This time, the Avs controlled the puck the entire OT, except for when Nathan MacKinnon made a bad back pass in traffic behind Devon Toews in the offensive zone. With Toews over-committed because of the bad pass, Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk went the length of the ice to beat Justus Annunen on a wrister off the rush.

Overtime is just so infuriating to Avs fans now. Almost every time, the Avs just can’t make a play, and the first shot against them is in the net.

Still, the Avs found a way to get a point after being down 5-2 at one point. They tied the game with under two minutes left on a big blast from the point by stellar defenseman Devon Toews – his second goal of the game. They should have had the momentum, but then came OT, and things just don’t go right for the Colorado Avalanche in overtime.

“Turnovers – that’s how you get good rush opportunities,” Avs coach Bednar said. “Goals 1 and 2 (against) were both turnovers. … In overtime, that’s another turnover goal.”

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Rookie callup Justus Annunen made 17-of-18 stops of the shots he saw in regulation after relieving leaky starter Jonas Johansson, but was beaten clean by Tkachuk on the OT shot.

“We’ve got to manage the puck better. We can’t keep giving them Grade A chances. We’ve got to be more disciplined with the puck. You can’t win just trading chances on a nightly basis. We have to be better defensively, and we’ve also got to get a save when we need it,” said Bednar, who also said he gave his team “credit” for the comeback point, calling it a “good point.”

The problem for this Avalanche team, beyond things on the ice, are the constant injuries that just play havoc with the things Bednar wants to do. Every night, he’s having to adjust his lineup because of sudden injuries, with new guys coming and going every other day from Loveland. Losing Darcy Kuemper has exposed the tissue-paper-thin depth the Avs have in goal, with Johansson having allowed 13 goals in a little more than seven periods of play so far on this road trip.

“We just can’t shake the injury bug. Unfortunately, it just keeps coming at us,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said.

NOTEBOOK: Bednar said all three guys (Kadri, Makar, Byram) are “day-to-day.”  … He also said Darcy Kuemper is day-to-day. …  Bednar said J.T. Compher will join the team in Philadelphia. Could he be a player that night? Doesn’t sound like it, as Bednar said downplayed that possibility, but he didn’t say it wouldn’t happen, either. … Devon Toews’ 31:17 of ice time tonight was the most by an Avs player since April 7, 2009, when Scott Hannan played 32:33 at San Jose. … MacKinnon had three assists, and has six points in the three games since returning from injury. He remains stuck at one goal scored on the season, however. … Pavel Francouz made 27 saves in a 4-0 shutout for the Colorado Eagles tonight. Could Frankie be with the Avs by Monday in Philadelphia, when they play their next game? I don’t know. But it wouldn’t shock me.

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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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dwestall

Maybe it’s because we are built to skate not bang and the NHL still requires banging.

Yan Girard

Are you referring to our goalies with puck 🙂

Yan Girard

Beautiful goals of Helm and Newhook. I’m disappointed for Annunen. He would have deserved a first win in NHL. Despite points, the best players of Avs weren’t the best and have been supplanted by those of Ottawa Senators. Even if he scores one goal, Jost was invisible. Jost doesn’t play at same level than the last year. I don’t know if Mackinnon is rusty but he is unrecognizable since the start of season. Maybe that he tries to do too much. The first line had difficulty to create scoring chances. Since the start of the season, the first line didn’t… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Alexander A
ricoflashback

Two more years of Bednar and no answers for the lack of defensive commitment. Overtime three on three? An absolute travesty and continued carelessness with the puck. The Avs should just play for the shootout. Bonehead after bonehead play. Stupid cross ice passes that have no chance of succeeding. Yes, the Avs are hurt. They’re not playing with their number one goalie and a host of other players. Even when the Avs are healthy – they still play the same careless way. Mental discipline? Not there. May never be there with this group. They can’t play a tight defensive game.… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by ricoflashback
Yan Girard

The team is too passive in defensive. The Avs have all the tools to perform in overtime at three on three. I believe that the performance in overtime demonstrates very well a mental weakness. When the players search their game, we perceive mental mistakes as the last game in overtime. The Avs have too speed and too skills to target the shootout. I believe rather that Avs must use the overtime to improve his mental and learn to win. The sport is a mental game. A team can have all the skills, the speed and work hard but if the… Read more »

Aaron Hinton

Jonas “The Speedwell” Johansson…not good enough, more injuries and bad luck than the Bad News Bears; there’s something about this team that just isn’t adding up this season. Different city, same result, Montreal game was a pleasant anomaly. Bednar says all the right things but there’s too much selfishness.

gimmepuck

Perhaps, Dater, but this team – top to bottom – has no ability to make adjustments to the different game situations they face.

If there is actual coaching going on, the boys don’t look like they’re listening.

Aaron Hinton

“The Avalanche organ-ization is very pleased to announce a 2-year extension for coach Bedpan. We look forward to 2 more excruciating years of the same results in different cities and plan on hoisting our golf clubs in mid-April”

troian

People want to simplistically blame the coach or goaltending – can’t say often enough: it’s the roster construction. This isn’t Bednar. And while JoJo has not been good, the results have not been significantly better even with Kuemper in net. Tilt your head back and look up to the executive suite.

Yan Girard

The positive point is that team has done a rise by scoring 3 goals. Also, despite that he was missing many important players as Byram, Makar, Kadri and Compher, the team has been able to score 5 goals. The team didn’t give many scoring chances. However, it’s true that the team doesn’t play at his full potential. About JoJo, it’s a pity but he isn’t able to make a key save in a hockey game or very rarely. I watched a lot hockey games in my life and I rarely seen a goalie caliber NHL who isn’t able to do… Read more »

ricoflashback

That’s certainly a big part of it. Sakic has never acknowledged the importance of defense and physicality. Easy for him not to think about it during Joe’s playing days as he had Footer and the likes of Chris Simon to take care of business. But it’s also coaching. What does Bednar emphasize on defense that translates to the ice? He says the same thing, over and over, after losses like this. Absolutely no change in the way the Avs play. They don’t want to play a tight, defensive game. They don’t focus on simple hockey. They continue to make poor… Read more »

Yan Girard

The defense is played in units of 5. The forwards cheating a little too much in all areas and it gives what it gives. Also, there is a lack of support especially in the defensive zone from the forwards. The best players were downgraded in terms of effort.

Last edited 9 months ago by Alexander A
gimmepuck

Fair point about the construction of the team. Agree.

That said, with the talent this team has – injuries or no – the results simply should be much better.

By this point in the season they should be demonstrating that they know more than one way to win a hockey game.

Aaron Hinton

This isn’t Bedpan? You are naïve if you don’t think he’s part of the problem, bro.

Joshua Canfield

Good writeup AD. I really do believe this season can be chalked up to the injury bug and a lack of goalie depth. There really hasn’t been a lot of games in a row where the Avs played with the same lineup. There’s just no chemistry being built. As for the goalie situation, okay we have given Johansson a solid chance and he’s not the answer. Annunen at least looked a little more composed. I think the Avs will have Francouz play another game with the Eagles but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sooner than later. Especially if… Read more »

JD16

Man, Annunen comes in plays great to let the team get back in it and he ends up saddled with the loss because of it.
They need to work on OT more in practice. I know it doesn’t come very often, but the amount of points lost by this team over the Bednar era is of some concern.

GWood

A lot of good observations and deserved criticisms but at the same time, despite all the injuries, they are in the hunt and just need to gel a bit so they can ultimately win the division. I think the main difference maker here is not having a NHL caliber backup goalie at the moment. As for the recurring overtime issues, no excuses, get your s%&t together fellas, its ridiculous.

dk

This is getting embarrassing. It’s one thing to lose to the Leafs, but getting beat by these basement dwellers? Even with Kadri and Makar out of the game, there was more than enough talent on the ice to get this done. And for f**k’s sake boys, protect your tendy! When your SCF% is anything less than 60% (for this team specifically) you are not doing your job. Especially against these plugs… Ottawa? C’mon.

joshmishell

They should play this every time JoJo makes a save, so only about 4 times a game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIItxRUZGHM

jimstrohmeier

The question is, how long and how much more pain do Avalanche fans have to endure before Sakic hires Joe Quenneville to coach this roster to a Stanley Cup? The team has the talent, they did last year. Not retaining Grubauer was a mistake, even with his injuries and playoff slide. Yes, Avs fans are seriously jaded from the glory days of Patrick Roy, but there are goalies out there we can trade for that can get us there. Nathan MacKinnon’s speed and skills disappear in a second when he makes those poor decisions in OT. He had his back… Read more »

Yan Girard

I don’t believe that it was a mistake not retaining Grubauer. 6 years at 5.9M per year for a goalie of 30 years old which has not been very successful in playoffs with an excellent team as Avs, doesn’t deserve so much money. In more, the Avs didn’t have the money for that. Grubauer would figure a big risk for the Avs. Grubauer didn’t demonstrate that he is able to manage the pressure when the things were rougher. With all the committed money in Makar, Rantanen, Landeskog, etc. , the contract of Mackinnon to resign in 2 years and the… Read more »

ghost

With all these GMs and coaches #AVS are in good hands.

Yan Girard

I think the same thing 🙂

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