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Takeaways from Colorado's loss against Edmonton

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 12, 2018

One is bad, two is embarrassing, three is a habit.

Coming off their beatdown at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning over the weekend, the Avalanche responded by defending their Pepsi Center turf with what amounted to a no-show against the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

It didn’t start off looking like the Avalanche were going to get run through as the first period was a solid overall effort that saw the Oilers build a one-goal lead off the back off a strong effort from their power play.

The second period, however, turned into the Avalanche essentially rolling over and letting the Oilers dictate how the rest of the game was going to go. A four-goal outburst from the Oilers saw them push ahead 5-1 at the end of the second period.

The teams traded goals early in the third period with the Avalanche challenging Edmonton’s sixth goal for goaltender interference but to no avail. In the end, it was another very ugly night for the Avalanche as they got beat by one of the NHL’s hottest teams, who improved to 8-2-2 since Ken Hitchcock took over as the head coach.

Takeaways from the game

  • It really wasn’t an ugly game from the beginning as the Avalanche got out to a big advantage in shots on goal as they dictated the early game. Penalties changed the course of not only the first period but the game as Colorado wasn’t able to capitalize on any of their chances and Edmonton did. Sometimes, it’s that simple.
  • Not only was it that simple tonight, but Colorado’s defense was so poor with their puck management they didn’t give their goalies much of a chance.
  • And of course, Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer were nowhere near good enough tonight. Both guys have really been roller coasters lately as Grubauer continues to struggle in his transition to Colorado and Varlamov’s poor recent form has gotten them run out a few buildings recently.
  • While the Avalanche has been really solid on the road, they haven’t found any rhythm at home yet this season and have only won six of their 12 games at Pepsi Center so far. With an extended stretch of home games coming up beginning on Saturday, they will finally have a chance to get cozy in their friendly confines for the first time all season.
  • The defense was just so bad early on tonight. Their puck management was truly terrible and absolutely cost them multiple goals. The turnover by Tyson Barrie that led to Edmonton’s third goal was the stuff of benchings. That didn’t happen but it was really bad.
  • Nathan MacKinnon might have been the most frustrated man in Denver tonight. He was constantly expressing his displeasure after whistles and it culminated with him getting into a bit of a fracas with Leon Draisaitl in the third period. They each were given two-minute penalties but continued chatting about their disagreement in the penalty box.
  • Officiating played a very minimal role in the outcome of tonight’s game but the goaltender interference challenge that was denied by the NHL once again raises the frustration of consistency with how these calls are being made. The play was similar to what happened in Pittsburgh last week when the Penguins challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was waived off. Some kind of explanation would go a long way towards alleviating some of the frustration people have with the process.
  • Getting blown out twice in a row is the kind of thing that might cause some to push the panic button but this is a team that has responded to self-inflicted adversity with flourishes of wins in the past. With them having two more days off before playing a back-to-back against division opponents this weekend, it will be key for them to get back on track quickly as they continue to try and put meaningful distance between themselves and the teams behind them.
  • This was exactly the kind of game where shot metrics will mislead you into believing certain things about a game. The Avalanche were doing good work offensively but their inability to stop Edmonton from creating the highest quality of chances was their undoing tonight.
  • Seriously, Colorado’s goalies need to get it together. They went through a similar stretch earlier in the year when they lost five games in a row largely on the back of atrocious goaltending. Colorado is paying the third-highest amount of money in the league to their goaltenders this year. If those two guys are struggling simultaneously, the Avalanche are lighting that money on fire. They need significant returns on the investments they’ve made into both players.
  • And before someone asks, no, it’s not time to call Pavel Francouz up from the AHL for funsies to see what he has. You let your horses work through their problems and go from there. If this continues through December, then maybe you consider making some changes. But one bad week shouldn’t undo what has otherwise been a very positive start for the goaltenders as a whole.
  • I don’t get too into the coaching weeds because it’s a complex world with more considerations than those of us on the outside will ever fully understand but I did feel like Bednar got outfoxed a bit by the wily vet Hitchcock. Edmonton was running McDavid hard early in the game and it was working for the Oilers to generate just enough momentum. I was also skeptical of his decision to start Varlamov tonight given the struggles of last week. What he does moving forward should be interesting as neither goaltender has run away with the opportunities.
  • If you’re one of those people who insist Colorado is a one-line team, tonight is pretty good evidence for you. It’s still not true, but a night like tonight definitely gives you ammo for those internet wars.

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