The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the best defensive teams in the NHL over the last four seasons.
Over the last two weeks, that team looks like a distant memory. And on Saturday, the effort of the team came into question.
For the second Saturday in a row, the Avalanche were shelled. Unlike last Saturday, this one happened in front of their home crowd, a crowd that had mostly exited five minutes into the third period, as the St. Louis Blues embarrassed the home team on their way to an 8-2 victory.
Alexandar Georgiev gave up six goals on 28 shots, but was hardly the number one reason for the loss. In the third period, the Avalanche looked like they were done playing for the night, giving up four goals in the final session, and hanging both their goaltenders out to dry.
After the game, Jared Bednar called his team’s third period “a joke.”
“That was the worst period of hockey I’ve ever seen from our club,” Bednar said. “It’s just guy’s quitting and not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
He’s not wrong.
Mikko Rantanen and Jack Johnson scored the only goals for Colorado.
The Avalanche just don’t like scoring first apparently.
For the fourth straight game, Colorado gave up the opening goal of the game, and it only got worse from there.
Just 1:08 into the game, a point shot from the Blues hit not one, but two different players on the ice. Brayden Schenn deflected the initial shot, but the puck looked like it was going wide…until it hit Sam Girard and bounced into the back of the net. Just like that, Colorado was playing from behind.
The third line tried their best to get the game tied up almost immediately. Logan O’Connor was robbed by the leg of Jordan Binnington off a diving chance in front, and Ross Colton hit the post a few minutes later. Colorado did generate chances offensively, but couldn’t solve Binnington.
In their own end, it was a bit of an adventure, and Colorado was a little too generous with the puck at times in the offensive zone.
St. Louis got their second of the period off an offensive zone turnover by Devon Toews. He went to drop the puck back to Valeri Nichushkin, but the two weren’t on the same page, and the Blues took it away. Cale Makar tried to stop Brandon Saad at the offensive blueline, but got beat, which led to a mini-break for Saad. Rather than shoot, he skated the puck past Georgiev and sent it back out front, where a trailing Schenn tipped it into the net, making it 2-0.
That goal came with just over a minute left in the period, which would have been a tough way to end the first.
It got worse.
With under 10 seconds left, Bednar threw Ryan Johansen out to win a defensive zone face-off. However, the Blues won the face-off, gaining possession. Their initial shot was blocked by Fredrik Olofsson, but Robert Thomas followed the puck into the corner. The coverage by the Avalanche was poor, as he was able to send a pass right through everyone to a wide open Krug at the point, who fired it past Georgiev on the glove side with just one second remaining.
If you can think of a more brutal end to a period, I’d love to hear it.
The first period was a lot of offense with very little defense. Things slowed down a little bit, but the Avalanche still could not solve Binnington.
Halfway through the period, Colorado got their first powerplay of the evening, and they did create some chances. MacKinnon was left all alone in front, but shot it right into the Blues goaltender. On the ensuing face-off, Rantanen had a clean look in the slot, but couldn’t bury it.
Then, disaster struck.
Just like they did a week ago today, they got sloppy on the powerplay, giving up an odd-man rush. Cale Makar failed to take away the pass, and Buchnevich beat MacKinnon to the net, deflecting the shot home to make it 4-0.
Makar and Rantanen combined to end the shutout with under four minutes remaining, as the big Finn tipped a Makar shot past Binnington to cut the lead to 4-1.
With just under two seconds left in the period, Tomas Tatar took a roughing penalty. That proved costly.
Just 1:20 into the third, Buchnevich was left all all alone on the backdoor, and made it 5-1. On another powerplay, Schenn completed the hat trick, as he was left all alone up high and wired one over Georgiev’s blocker.
That goal would be the end of Georgiev’s evening. Another sub-par showing, but it can’t all be put on him.
The horrific defense continued well after Georgiev exited the game. If anything, the team quit. Ivan Prosvetov came in and was immediately put to the test, as Colorado couldn’t help but give the puck away to the Blues. St. Louis had a handful of breakaways in the final 15 minutes alone, and the route was on.
Buchnevich added his third goal of the game late, making it a double hat trick for the Blues, adding to the embarrassment of the home team. The Blues scored another goal late, converting the two point conversion. Jack Johnson added a meaningless goal in the final minute, but the damage was done, and most of the fans had left the building.
Colorado now heads to Seattle, as they take on the Kraken Monday night. Not exactly the team they want to see coming off an embarrassing loss.
Or maybe that’s what they need?
That game starts at 8 PM MST, but before then, the Avalanche will practice at Family Sports on Sunday.
Based off Bednar’s mood after the game, I can’t imagine it will be a fun one for the players.