Avalanche vs. Flames Pick – NHL January 4th
The Colorado Avalanche have turned into some kind of dumpster fire this season. All bets were off when Patrick Roy picked up and left, but I’m not sure anyone saw them turning into the worst team in the NHL. There is talent to be had on this roster, so the idea of them having a record of 12-24-0 at the beginning of January was ludicrous. This wasn’t a playoff team to begin with, but I envisioned the Avs fighting to keep up with a record of .500. Instead, the Avalanche are fighting to avoid being the worst team in the league.
The Avalanche said goodbye to Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly within the last two years. They did, however, keep Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie. Keeping Barrie was a priority for the Avalanche, Stastny and O’Reilly were seen as the casualties of a team who couldn’t afford to keep everybody. I kind of thought that the Avs had to find a way to keep one or the other, Stastny or O’Reilly. Neither are in Colorado anymore and they’ve been paying for it.
Landeskog in particular has been a huge letdown for the Avalanche this season. Pegged as a guy ready to take over as the face of the franchise, Landeskog has been struggling to live up to expectations. I think he may need a scenery change. I really don’t think players are responding well to head coach Jared Bednar, who is basically a fill-in coach after they were left scrambling due to Patrick Roy resigning. Bednar isn’t going to survive the upcoming offseason.
I can’t see it happening. It was a tough position for all involved, but when your best players aren’t responding, some of it may come down to putting blame on the coach. Duchene is hanging in there trying to produce, scoring 13 goals and 11 assists on the year. They play a Calgary Flames team who are keeping their heads above water and trying to find the playoffs after suffering through a setback in the 2015-16 season. Let’s get to the pick below.
The issues for the Avalanche haven’t been onefold. To put it bluntly, their defence has been awful, and their offence has been as well. On most occasions a bad team is usually dreadful in one area and look better elsewhere. However, nothing has translated on the ice for the Avalanche this season. Note that they are 30th offensively, with 2.05 goals scored per game. Likewise, equally depressing has been their effort on defenses, where they’re 30th as well with 3.35 goals allowed per game. To put everything in perspective, yes, the Avs have been that bad and will be searching for a new head coach in the offseason. At the least, they will be quick to pull the cord on Bednar at the beginning of next season. He had no time to prepare for this year, as he thought he would be coaching in the NHL until August and the Avalanche came calling.
While there is room for improvement on the defensive front for the Flames, they’ve improved their numbers from the bottom of the league to 20th in goals allowed. After struggling in his new role as the Flames’ starter in net, Chad Johnson provided some life in the crease. Pressure has undoubtedly had an impact on him in Calgary. Bigger market, bigger paycheque, and bigger expectations. Elliott has posted a GAA of 3.01 and save percentage of 0.893%.
I could see the Flames going to Elliott tonight in attempt to keep his confidence up against the Colorado offence. It has been six games since the Flames have scored less than 3 goals on the Avs. The Avalanche are ripe to get blasted on defence again here tonight. They’ve allowed 3.90 goals per in their last ten games, 4.75 goals in their last four outings. Conversely, the Flames have netted 3.20 goals in their last ten. The Avs should be able to hit around their average tonight, though, of 2 goals. If they can play like they’ve been this season, this game should eclipse the posted total of 5.5.