Sometimes having elite talent will not always lead to an easy victory, especially in the National Hockey League. Sometimes, you need to take a large step back and go back to the roots of the game.
This is the exact case for the Colorado Avalanche at the midway point of the season.
After starting their three-game road swing strong with a 5–2 victory over the New Jersey Devils, the Colorado Avalanche now find themselves with a two-game losing streak following a 1–0 shutout loss to the Semyon Varlamov and the New York Islanders, and a 5–3 loss to the New York Rangers — a game in which the Avalanche blew a 2-0 first period lead.
In these two recent losses to the Islanders and the Rangers, one common theme that I quickly picked up on were these thoughts;
- Why shoot it at that tough angle instead of passing to the wide-open man in the slot or the back door on that odd-man rush?
- Why try to dangle in the slot on a powerplay instead of getting a quick shot off or passing to the open man?
- WHY SO MANY DEFENSIVE AND NEUTRAL ZONE TURNOVERS?
I put extra emphasis on that last one because I feel like it is a common theme in Avalanche games.
Let us go back a couple of weeks when the Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues 7–3, and it seemed as if the Avs were back to their dominating ways. If you take a look at the goals in the game for the Avalanche, there were two very clear observations;
- The Avs were playing to their identity; speed.
- They shot when they needed to shoot, and they passed when they needed to pass.
- Limited turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones, and forced turnovers from the Blues
If you take a look back to this victory against the Blues, the Avalanche were doing everything well. They jumped up to a quick 3–0 lead, and even when the Blues fought back with two goals of their own, the Avalanche did not give up. Taking a look at the figures provided by The Athletic, despite giving up more giveaways the Avalanche led the game in shots (42), takeaways (16), and faceoffs won (39).
Despite coming away with a victory over the Devils in their next game, it was clear that the Avs have lowered their game following their dominating performance against the Blues. This downward spiral has continued into their recent struggles. If you want a good example of simple hockey, take a look at the game against the New York Islanders.
One important reason why the Islanders are having a successful season and was able to come away with an important 1–0 victory over the Avs was due to their simple style of hockey.
Is it exciting? Absolutely not. Is it impactful? Clearly.
If the Avs want to get back to dominating opponents in the second half of the season, they need to get back to simple hockey. You can play a quick brand of hockey without the unnecessary fancy passes.
Take the simple shot and make the simple play, and score more goals.
It’s that easy.
Let us know what you think below