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RAPID REACTION: Shocked Or Not, Unacceptable Performance By Avalanche

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You would be shocked too if you received the news that the Colorado Avalanche received prior to Game Four. Losing one of your best players not just for one game, but for at least six months? Yeah, I’d expect them to come out a little flat.

Still, I didn’t expect…that.

Valeri Nichushkin is a massive part of the Avalanche. Massive might be an understatement, actually. With him in the lineup, they don’t lose that often. Without him, they’re pretty average.

I think a lot of people would have accepted average on Monday night. What fans got was an ugly and unacceptable performance. That performance has now put this team is on the brink of elimination.

“We looked frozen in the first period,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said.

Frozen might be giving them too much credit. The Avalanche, playing in a must-win game, registered just two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. TWO. Wyatt Johnston, a single human being, registered four shots by himself for the Stars.

You could feel the nervous energy heading into the building. As I was walking in, a fan in front of me looked down at his phone and told his son, “Wow. Val is out.” His son’s response?

“What?!?”

Based on how period one went, that interaction is almost how I’d imagine it went in the Avalanche locker room. It was like they found out five minutes before puck drop and didn’t know how to respond.

“We were not moving. We were not skating,” Bednar said. “It looked like we were exhausted and we should be in the rested team.”

Is losing Nichushkin a massive blow? You bet it is. So was the loss of Devon Toews, who couldn’t play due to illness. That doesn’t excuse what we saw out on the ice. Unacceptable is the word that comes to mind. Everyone outside of Alexandar Georgiev and maybe 2-3 other players laid a massive egg. That’s a veteran team that didn’t seem to know how to handle the moment.

Makar said they might have been “nervous.” How does a team that has played on the biggest stage the game has to offer come out nervous?

“We’re not using (Val) as an excuse,” Bednar said. “We lose a good player in Val today. We (also) add a good player in Drouin. I think that’s not an excuse for our team, for us.”

I don’t know how they come back from this. Dallas got a little beat up in this game, losing Roope Hintz, Craig Smith, and Chris Tanev, but beating that team three times in a row (and twice in Dallas) seems almost impossible. If you’ve lost hope, I don’t really blame you. The Avalanche haven’t even held a lead in this series, after all.

Colorado now finds themselves on the brink of elimination. We’ll have all offseason to talk about Nichushkin and where things go from here, but in the immediate future, this team has to find a way to bounce back from one of their worst performances in recent memory.

And then do it two more times.

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Ken

We are losing this series to the things the Stars have that we don’t. Johnston and Stankoven are young, hungry, players. We have some, but refuse to give them a shot. Outside of a couple of injury stints, we played this entire season without any rookies. That almost never happens on any team, a rookie or 2 is part of every team in every sport. I see the value in a few vets who know the ropes, but a few babies to keep the room young and fresh is needed as well. Loss of a couple key players should never… Read more »

Jim Stick

The difference is Ken is that Dallas drafted well and has young talent that can compete at young age in the NHL. Meanwhile, Colorado did not draft well when they had picks but mostly traded all of their high draft picks away chasing the Cup. The year that Colorado took Oskar Olausson with the 27th pick–Dallas took Stankoven with the 47th pick. Olausson can’t score at a reasonable rate in Loveland. It is not about the Avs refusing to give a young player a shot–they haven’t had young players in the past couple of years capable of playing at a… Read more »

Jon

Avs and Stars have been in completely different spots over the last 4 years. The Avs would have received the wrath of fans if they didn’t trade assets to win in their window. Yes, Eller was a mistake. A 3rd round pick for him could have been more palatable but they didn’t have one. Btw, Johnston and Stankoven is a bit of cherry picking. Yes, Dallas has done well and drafted multiple starters in recent drafts but Mavrik Bouque, Ty Dellandrea and Riley Tufte were all 1st round picks and are AHL players

Steve

I think the lack oh heart is due to the lack of Landy.

Aaron

Can’t help but wonder if Toews feeling sick is due to concussion-like symptoms after the Benn hit

Aggressive

Send Bednar down to the Eagles where he belongs. Gets outcoached in the playoffs every single time. Enough!

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