Despite the Avs recent win over the Hawks (come on guys really?) the Avs are dead last in the entire NHL with a poor record of 12-20-1. In fact they’re terrible in just about every stat. Goal differential (-39), they are 21st overall on the power play, and 20th overall on the penalty kill. This is a team that won the extremely tough Central Division back in 2013-2014. After this remarkable season, they were bounced in 7 games in round 1 of the playoffs by the Minnesota Wild. After this stunning defeat, the Avs have failed to recapture the success of that one good year. This is a team that has also, largely, stayed the same since. Great players such as Nathan McKinnon, Matt Duchene, Tyson Barrie, and Gabriel Landeskog have been underwhelming and under performing since then. As of right now, the Avs best player is Semyon Varlamov, their goaltender. Most nights, he is out there by himself with little to no defense to help and he is the reason they win. As of now, his save percentage is .901 and his goals against is 3.33. The save percentage is pretty good considering how bad the Avs defense is. The goals against is terrible, but again that’s largely due to poor defense by the other 5 Avs on the ice. It’s hard facing 30 to 40 shots every night and expect to only give up a goal or two.
To me there are 2 main reasons for the Avs being in last place. They are; awful performances by key, core players and the inability to get the puck out of their own defensive end. Let’s start with the players, key players that should be scoring almost every night but are just not this season. The most glaring is team captain Gabriel Landeskog. The 6’1” forward has 4 goals and 5 assists this year for 9 points in 23 games. 9 points in 23 games. That’s a point production stat you’d expect from a 4th line grinder yet here is a guy with amazing hands and an amazing shot. Another player that has under delivered is future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. He has 8 points in 33 games. Some people will say “oh that’s because he’s getting old.” To that I say you are wrong. Iginla and Marian Hossa are only 2 years apart (39 and 37 respectively) and yet Hossa this year has 23 points. Jaromir Jagr is 44 and he has 21 points. So it’s not an age thing, its a lack of production in my eyes.
The other problem is poor defensive play and not being able to get the puck out. This is just a general lack of hard work in the defensive end. Usually that’s what defending is all about, being willing to work harder than the guy trying to score on you, hitting, and blocking shots. Most nights, Varlamov is hung out to dry having to stop 30 or 40 shots. After a while that tires out a goalie and eventually someone scores. On top of this, the Avs blue line just lacks depth, which is the source of the problem. The Avs really only have 3 good defensemen and even they struggle to chip pucks out or make good clean passes to forwards and lead the transition from defense to offense.
All in all, the Avs have been extremely disappointing in recent years. I do hope this changes somewhat since I enjoy watching them play. They still have a good core of relatively young players, they just need a push or some extra motivation to make them a great team again, and a serious threat in the West again.