The Avalanche are 8-8-1. The club has 17 points, 12th in the Western Conference. They started out with a five game winning streak after a home loss and were 6-2 before the slide. They have only two wins at home. Obviously, it has been a tough few weeks for the team. The team lacks energy despite their apparent youth. The team falls behind and them tries to dig its way out of a hole. The Power Play may be the best in the league, but the penalty kill has fallen apart the last few weeks. They were in the top ten and now sit at 28th on the penalty kill.
The bright spot for the team has been their “third line.” Rookie and second overall pick, Gabriel Landeskog, is the real deal. He has easily made the transition to the NHL and plays physically all the time. He has 5 goals and 3 assists with a team leading 41 hits and 61 shots on goal. He is coupled with third year player Ryan O’Reilly. Radar, as he is often known, is the hardest working player on the team. With 12 points he is starting to develop into an offensive threat for the club. Their other line mate, Daniel Winnik, has seven points.
The rest of the team is a mess, especially of late. The top two centers, Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, have been inconsistent and cannot get comfortable with their line mates. Duchene has been most effective recently as a winger on Stastny’s line. David Jones and Milan Hejduk have been the most consistent foward, but Jones has not been heard from much recently.
Beyond those guys, Peter Mueller again is suffering from concussion symptoms, which has limited him to just three games. He did not look good in those three games. TJ Galiardi and Cody McCleod have not been able to find ways to play their game. The signings of Chuck Kobasew and Joakim Lindstorm have done nothing to help their offense.
The defense has been a mixed bag. The Avs added a lot of force in the back end to deal with their lack of size. Shane O’Brien and Jan Hejda have been solid additions. Kyle Quincey is scoring, back from his shoulder injury, while Ryan Wilson may be the team’s best defenseman right now. Ryan O’Byrne has been largely invisible and Erik Johnson has not played well. The Avs made a big trade for Johnson and he continually turns the puck over and has no goals for the team.
Finally, the Avalanche traded their number one pick next year for Goalie Semyon Varlamov. He has a 5-7-1 record with a .900 save percentage. While he looked great early in the year he has let in soft goals of late. J.S. Giguere is 3-1 and could see increased playing time soon.
The Avalanche take on the Penguins tonight, Minnesota on Thursday and then return home to face Dallas on Friday.