It is a very rare thing during an 82-game NHL season that I watch a game and don’t have any interest at all in looking at any of the numbers that went into it. I have an insatiable curiosity and there is almost always something to pique my interest.

Not tonight.

From Colorado’s perspective, there is not one single redeeming quality from an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues.

Getting blown out last weekend by the Golden Knights IN Vegas? That stuff happens against good teams. The Avs have been the good team blowing out other good teams the last several years. Sometimes things happen on the road, too, so it was ugly and all but it should have been an isolated incident.

Getting bodied at home against a Blues team that isn’t very good? Jared Bednar, the notoriously level-headed head coach who in the past has said that bag skating his team in practice after bad losses does nothing to prepare them for their next game and only serves to make himself feel better and thus an abdication of his duty to make his team better, finally did his version of losing his cool in his postgame presser.

Bednar might not seem like an outwardly upbeat individual, but he errs on the side of optimism and pulls the positives where he can while also keeping a focus on the parts of the game that can be improved upon. This game, though?

There isn’t anything positive to pull from beyond the fact that it, mercifully, ended. This was National Lampoon presents the Colorado Avalanche.

The game started in a frustrating manner when the Blues do get a lucky break when a puck shot from the point hit a stick and then deflects off Sam Girard and into the net. There really isn’t anything wrong that anybody does on a bang-bang sequence that you get when things are going well and one that goes against you as a harbinger of doom.

This was the latter.

Colorado responded well to the goal against, playing hard and creating a handful of excellent scoring chances. They hit two posts, particularly Ross Colton’s aggressive drive to the front of the net where he beat Jordan Binnington but couldn’t tuck the puck into the net, and had seven high-danger chances in the first eight minutes of the game. They were flying.

Then they got frustrated at the lack of finishing and let the mental errors begin as a 1-0 deficit became 3-0 by the end of the first period. The Avs never recovered and they used the rest of the game to give up on their coach and, worse, themselves.

They treated the home crowd at Ball Arena to the most embarrassing loss in recent Avalanche history against a Blues team that, if things go well this year, will be fighting for a wild card spot in a weakened West.

Avs players interviewed after the game said some of the right things.

That’s fine. It’s better to hear that stuff than not hear it, but we heard all of the same types of stuff after the Avalanche got blown out exactly one week ago in the 7-0 drubbing in Vegas.

Since opening up 6-0 on the season, the Avs are now down to 8-5 and have been outscored 27-5 in their losses.

That kind of disparity says that you aren’t pointing fingers at forwards, defensemen, or goaltenders. You’re looking at all three levels of your team and admitting they are, collectively, the culprit.

I can sit here and crow about Colorado’s underlying numbers and how they have been stronger than some of their results might suggest and that they are a little shooting percentage luck away from hitting their stride. Cool.

After a game like that, though, who cares about any of that? They just did the one thing that is completely unacceptable in life. Both winning and losing come and go. Good days and bad days are buoyed by the excess of the in-between. The one true outcome that any of us can control is the effort we put into any of it, and tonight the Avalanche quit.

Plain and simple. They quit.

There are still plenty of big-picture takes after this game about how the Avs are still in a playoff spot, the conference is still weak overall, and how bad stretches happen to every team. Lots of mentions about the 4-5-1 start back in 2022 are inevitable.

But you don’t sit here the night of a loss like that and puff out your chest that everything will ultimately be fine. This is the kind of shellacking that forces a fork in the road for a hockey team, even in Game 13 of the season.

The Avs either respond with that championship mettle that we have so frequently touted, pick themselves off the mat and start stringing some wins together and make the next 48 hours worth of takes seem so tawdry. Or they never get out of this rut and the season tailspins on them.

The vicissitudes of the first 13 games of this season have already felt exhausting. There’s finding one’s way and there’s this.

We’ll see who this Avalanche team decides it wants to be.


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