The Colorado Avalanche fell to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night 3-2 after being out-played for most of the game. This followed a similar performance where Colorado was able to pull off an overtime win, but not this time.
Sure playing in Vegas was not going to be an easy task. Yet, if the Avalanche took their skill and desire to win that they had from the game two they could’ve had a better shot at game three. Unfortunately that’s not what happened. Head coach Jared Bednar was not pleased in his post-game press conference and that’s something fans don’t see very often. He wouldn’t go into details about what went wrong other than to say that the team’s ‘commit’ level needed to improve. He did call out Phillipp Grubauer as the Avs’ best player of the night.
So what made the Avalanche go from a “firing on all cylinders” team that played a strong 60 minutes of hockey to one that got beat all over the ice? And yes, it was pretty much ALL over the ice. They lost face-off after face-off. With at least two power play opportunities, they couldn’t convert. And they chased the puck all night.
Don’t get me wrong, they played around 15 minutes of the great hockey, but fans know that amount does not win games. No matter how great a team is at believing in themselves when things go south and they aren’t winning puck battles anymore, it does have an emotional impact regardless of what people may think. And while Jared Bednar has had the Avalanche succeed in the past using speed and talent to win games when their strategy isn’t working, it will take something big to turn that around in this series.
So, what do the Avalanche need to do for game four?
Use visualization for starters. Many top athletes use it to get themselves into the mental headspace of achieving what they want to achieve. If the players who take faceoffs spend time visualizing themselves winning them, that will begin to happen. If the players see themselves out skating the Knights, winning the race to the puck, that will also happen. And, when they use this technique, it will unknowingly have a positive impact on their confidence level. You might believe this is all too ‘woo woo’ for hockey, yet people today underestimate the power of thought and the mental aspect in hockey.
Mental attitude plays a bigger part in the game than anyone thinks possible. Yet, when you have a team that tells themselves they will win their Division and the President’s Trophy to gain the home-ice advantage, and it happens, that is what I am talking about. Although teams will tell you if you win the next shift, you can win the period, then win the game. Playing in a hostile environment like Vegas, let’s win the next face-off then go from there.