At the Colorado Avalanche game Monday night it was not “All About the A” as the former Avalanche slogan used to like to say, but it was “All About the D.”
It was all about the D for their sloppy defense.
It was all about the D for the Dallas Stars‘ ability to capitalize on their chances.
It was all about the D for their “D” rated players.
You see, I have this philosophical belief that a great hockey team should be comprised of a mix of players rated from A-D.
Fast forward to Feb. 4, 2013. I believe the reason why some of their games are so frustrating is because the team makeup is bottom-heavy. If I’m feeling generous tonight, I can say they have six A’s. However, if Erik Johnson wasn’t a first-round pick, I’d have him as a B. By my count, the Avs also have four B’s, four C’s and six D’s. Where they are lacking due to injuries is that 2nd level player, the players who aren’t superstars but are really good and solid. They are also missing a player who hovers right between that A/B line, Ryan O’Reilly, because of a contract dispute.
When you are so bottom-heavy, it is even more important that the star players perform. Only one “A” player tonight was a positive in the +/- column and that was our man of the night, Milan Hejduk. Johnson and Matt Duchene were both -2, Paul Stastny was even but had 2 assists, and Semyon Varlamov was very human with a .885 Save Percentage. Our team had nine giveaways to Dallas’ three as well as nine takeaways to their 14. So they had a +11 differential and we were even. In this league, in this shortened season, you just cannot play like that. Whereas in previous games, the Avs have poured on shots in the third period, today they had the lowest total of seven. During five power plays they struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone and rarely got a chance to set up a good power play.
So what does all this mean? I’m not one for doom and gloom like many Avalanche fans. I think that if some players can get healthy in the almost five day break after Wednesday’s game, then we will be able to drop some of our D’s and increase our B’s and C’s. In fact, with most of our players back and O’Reilly resigned, we’d almost be looking at that perfectly balanced team again and we all know where that leads. In the meantime, our A’s have to play like A’s and we fans need to be prepared for some bumpy nights. All we can hope is that the old Avs slogan holds true and that more often than not it is “All About the A.”