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The Avs aren't playing very well, but they're still getting points, which is all that matters early in a season
NEW YORK – I’ll be honest, I’m a bit worried about the way the Avalanche are looking right now. They’re giving up too many shots again, are getting outplayed for good-sized stretches of games again and not looking deep enough up front. But their record is 3-1-2.
And that, for me, is all that matters right now.
Getting points any way you possibly can is all that matters to me, early in a season. It’s all about just getting to that second half of the season, to that final third of the season, with enough points in the bank not to have to sweat out every single game in the end. The Avs have played six games so far and gotten at least a point in five of them.
Good enough for me.
Now, like I just said, things could be better. Jared Bednar seemed pretty happy with his team’s play Tuesday night here at Madison Square Garden, even going as far as to say he thought it played a pretty good first period against the New York Rangers.
First shift, yeah. The rest of the period? Uh, no, not good, sorry coach. Colorado was outshot 19-7 and if not for Semyon Varlamov, it should have been a 3-0 game in the first 10 minutes. The Avs got better as the game went along, but once again they started an overtime looking like elephants on ice skates. Nathan MacKinnon takes a penalty on the first shift, the Avs have to bail water to kill the PP off and go into the shootout where MacKinnon tried to get too fancy on one attempt and Gabe Landeskog was too slow in getting his moves together against aging-but-still-effective Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
That’s three of the last four games now that the Avs have been outplayed and outshot for large stretches of games, yet the only game they’ve truly lost was in Columbus. When this team starts to get its defensive game together more – and Bednar said it will be a prime focus of his moving forward – things will start to come easier again.
I thought Ian Cole said it well after the game: “The more we can roll six guys, the more we can save guys like Tyson Barrie for the power play, and Sam Girard for the power play. We’re not there yet, but we’re certainly working and we’re certainly growing. You’re never satisfied when you lose, but I think there’s some good things we can take out of this. We came back and never stopped battling.”
Probably the one thing that worries me most about this team isn’t the defense, though. It’s the lack of a line, beyond the dynamic top trio of MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen, that has yet to develop a real identity. Sure, all three lines have had some good moments, but you worry about the sustainability still of that second line, of Tyson Jost, Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson. You worry if Carl Soderberg can possibly come close to another 40-point season. You worry about Matt Nieto going pointless through the first six games, and whether Vladislav Kamenev can really be counted on for anything.
But, plenty of time to sort that out. Plenty of time, too, to maybe make a deal for a forward (Nylander from Toronto, anyone?).
Flaws remain with this team, as we’ve seen. Giving up 43 shots to a 1-4-0 Rangers team is not a good game, no matter how you want to look at it. Yes, I know a lot of them came on the power play, but those penalties were the product of more aggressive Rangers play than anything.
Yet, all I see in the standings right now is a team at 3-1-2, in the playoffs if the season ended today.
For now, that works.