It all feels a little elementary right now, doesn’t it?

Over the last two days since Colorado’s horrific road trip ended, they’ve learned they will be without star center Nathan MacKinnon for at least a month and called up five players from the AHL while sending Alex Galchenyuk back down to the Eagles for, ahhh, let’s call it further seasoning. They also lost Jayson Megna to Anaheim on waivers in what might be the most inexplicable waiver claim I can ever recall.

So when the Avs took the ice tonight against the same Boston Bruins that housed them during that awful road trip last week, well, they were the Avs only in the sense that they were wearing Avs jerseys and playing at Ball Arena. That’s also true of a lot of the kids teams they send out there during intermissions, too, but those results don’t count in the NHL standings, you know?

No, tonight the Avs were more Eagles than Avs as injuries have not only hit the Avs but overrun the roster. You weren’t even surprised when, just minutes into the game tonight, the TV production cut to Mikko Rantanen in pain on the bench getting his hand looked at before eventually disappearing down the tunnel.

I mean, Rantanen was the only member of Colorado’s preferred top-six forward group still healthy. Might as well go all the way, right?

Rantanen eventually returned, though with the whopping 14% expected goals for produced by him tonight, it’s a wonder why he even risked it.

It’s no real surprise this one ended in a 4-0 win for the Bruins, who sweep the Avs in a two-game series that nobody on earth can say is representative of what a Stanley Cup Final would look like between these two teams.

For Colorado’s sake, the first period was at least competitive. The Bruins got two power plays, failed to score on either, and the opening frame finished tied 0-0. It genuinely felt like a victory for the Avs. To be honest, they just haven’t played a lot of competitive hockey in the last few games, so this was enjoyable.

Predictably, it didn’t last.

The Bruins eventually got on the scoresheet when defensive zone mistakes by Jacob MacDonald and Ben Meyers led directly to two Grade-A scoring chances that ended up behind Alexandar Georgiev, maybe the player we should feel the worst for in all of this.

That 2-0 lead felt like the game was already over. Even the Bruins mostly stopped pressing and just played a tight defensive shell. They knew the Avalanche didn’t have the horsepower offensively to catch up, so they played it cool and waited to capitalize on more Avs mistakes.

They were right about that firepower, though.

Colorado finished with just 23 shots on goal, which is a low number for an NHL team but not even close to the 13 they had against Carolina through regulation in the team’s first meeting of this season. No, what really stood out as particularly putrid tonight was the quality of Colorado’s chances.

At all situations, which includes four Avalanche power play attempts, the Avs generated just 1.02 expected goals tonight. Out of curiosity, I went back through a few seasons to see when the last time the Avs produced a number that bad. The answer? December of 2016, when they did it twice (one of them was the infamous 10-1 loss in Montreal).

The offensive performance tonight was so futile that it was only comparable by the ’16-17 team that lost 60 games. So, you know, not great.

Arguably Colorado’s best scoring chance was when Meyers made a strong move on the outside and then couldn’t find Martin Kaut on the backdoor with a cross-crease feed. Instead, the puck was deflected and skittered away harmlessly.

In the end, the Avs ended up generating those 23 shots but just 10 scoring chances and four high-danger chances. In the entire game, they produced 10 scoring chances. 10! For reference, the worst team at generating scoring chances, the Chicago Blackhawks, average over 22 scoring chances per game.

Those 10 scoring chances are the second-lowest a team has generated this season behind only an October 30 game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils that resulted in a 7-1 beating by the Devils. Columbus managed just nine scoring chances in that nail-biting contest.

Including tonight, a team has registered a maximum of 10 scoring chances just five times over the last three NHL seasons. That’s how ugly tonight was.

The reason I emphasize this point is to say that this hybrid version of the Avalanche and Colorado Eagles simply is not equipped to handle the Boston Bruins. A lesser NHL team, well, we’ll see. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin is up next as the New York Rangers are next to come through Denver, so maybe things don’t necessarily get easier right away despite Shesterkin’s numbers currently being far from what they were last season.

I’ll tell you what I did appreciate about tonight’s clearly overmatched Avalanche roster.

They fought. In Dryden Hunt’s case, he literally fought after a big hit in the neutral zone drew the ire of the Bruins. In fact, Hunt beating up Tomas Nosek was Colorado’s only real win of the evening. Even though it doesn’t count in the standings, I’m still giving it to Hunt as a moral victory while he continues fighting a theoretical battle to preserve his roster spot once (if?) this forward corps ever gets healthy.

While reinforcements could be on the way as quickly as this week, until they get here, the big victories we can look for from this Avalanche group are games they get through without any additional injuries and things like the scoreless first period. Simpler times, these.

Author

A.J. Haefele was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Colorado Avalanche beat reporter for DNVR. AJ helped launch the network back in 2015 and has filled roles as a team leader and Editor-In- Chief, along with co-hosting the DNVR draft podcasts along with his other duties. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Avalanche podcast. Follow AJ on Twitter - @returnofaj

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