Morale takes beating as Avalanche lose game four to Stars


Morale for the Colorado Avalanche was pretty low on Monday night as they received bad news right before game four against the Dallas Stars. Valerie Nichushkin was going to be entering Stage 3 of the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and receive a six-month suspension. On top of that, the Avalanche got news that their star defenseman, Devon Toews, would be out of the game because of an illness. Alexandar Georgiev would do his best in the first period to keep Colorado in the game, but the dam eventually broke. On the bright side, Jonathan Drouin returned from injury tonight. Here are my takeaways from the 5–1 loss to the Dallas Stars. 


— Colorado failed to exit their own zone the entire game. They struggled to get the puck out of the defensive zone in the first period, allowing 16 shots on goal. The Avalanche were lucky to escape the period with only one goal against. Georgiev was looking like classic Georgiev as he was making save after save. 


— Colorado failed to forecheck throughout the game. Their bread and butter has become to put pressure on the opposing team and they were not doing that tonight. Dallas was beating them to the puck and then out skating them. Having to dump and change was not helping, either. By the time the Avalanche were gaining possession of the puck, it was the end of the shift and time to change. This was leading to them chasing Dallas in the offensive zone from the start of the shift to the end of the shift. The one time Colorado did forecheck, it led to Casey Mittelstadt’s goal.


— Caleb Jones may not be the option if Toews is still sick in game five. Jones was plus one only because he was on the ice during Mittelstadt’s goal. But he had two penalties that cost the Avalanche momentum and Dallas converted on the penalty. The Avalanche may need to go with a more offensively minded defenseman like Same Malinski. He would bring some play that is like Cale Makar in style, as well as some aggressiveness to the blue line. 



The Avalanche will need to learn to play without the efforts of Valeri Nichushkin in the lineup. Yes, he brings a lot to the table, but Colorado needs to adjust and quickly. Drouin can bring some offensive power back to the lineup, but not in the same way that Nichushkin did. Drouin will have to use his speed and snapshot to his advantage. Failure to make the adjustments for these two will doom the Avalanche to an early exit. They will head to Dallas on Wednesday for game five and try to avoid elimination.

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