(Denver, Colorado) — They are in mid-stretch in the race for a playoff spot… and the Avs are plummeting to the basement of the Western Conference – laboring night in and night out since the month of December in which they had their best run of the season winning six games in nine days.
After leading the league in offense for much of the first part of the season, the Avs have trended backward in this area… and to make matters worse the defense continues to struggle, even though the team has played a much more conservative style since the New Year.
Could it be that Coach Joe Sacco’s defensive play mantra has wrecked something good? After all, this team was winning games by outskating and outscoring the opposition – in spite of a plethora of injuries to key players like Adam Foote and Chris Stewart.
Could it be that this team is finally playing the way many anticipated it would play after the master plan for a five-year re building program was put in place two years ago? After a surprising run in the 2009-2010 season and some progress in the playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche had many of its fans forgetting about the rebuilding plan. And who could blame them? This young team looked like it had indeed put the pieces together – four years ahead of schedule. And the start of this season did nothing to thwart the lofty expectations of the fans, as the Avs sat atop the Northwest Division back in mid December.
Without a doubt, many knew that this team had holes; but these holes became more innocuous when the Avs were winning by scoring in waves. The Avalanche had the right mind set and skill set to win games by averaging four or more goals a game. They had the heart to know that they would not trail in any game for too long. They had the attitude of a confident hockey team. But now all that is gone. The Avs have not adapted to the two-way style Sacco has implored them to play all season long. Just when you thought this team would make the timely adjustment to shut down opposition as they drove for the home stretch in the playoff race, they lost their offensive touch. The Avs have now lost nine games in a row and have struggled to score goals in those games.
They tried to bring in a savior from the past – Peter Forsberg. And that didn’t last long. After two games the future Hall of Famer smartly hung up his skates, preserving the dignity with which he left the game last year. The hockey gods are not frowning at the Avalanche collapse. They expected it. They gave this young team a chance to taste the nectar of winning. Now, as reality truly sinks in the Avs must endure the bitter taste of losing and the growing pains that come with rebuilding. The hockey gods have realigned the stars to ensure proper balance between order and chaos. To win during a rebuilding phase defies the creed of the hockey gods. The Avs must undergo a complete catharsis in order to be the best team they can be. They must lose, lose, and lose some more in order to become a very good team – a true contender. With losing they will get draft picks. With losing, the character of this young team will mount. And with losing, the existing players will become hungry. They will not take the game for granted. They will play a balanced game and savor the fruits that come with maturity.
Cheer up Avalanche fans. All is truly not lost. The success experienced during the first third of the season is a harbinger of the future. Three more years to go in the rebuilding plan – not an inordinately long time before this team will win once more and become legitimate contenders.
About the Author
Written by Donovan Wilson
Donovan is a professional writer with more than 10 years of corporate communications and public relations experience. He currently resides in the Phoenix, Arizona area where he currently does freelance work for the Arizona Repubilc. With a degree in English from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia, Donovan has written for a variety of newspapers across the country. The single parent of an 13-year old boy, Donovan is a physical fitness enthusiast whom you can find on a soccer field or in the gym enduring an intense cardio workout. A sports enthusiast, Donovan has played competitive college hockey, soccer, and track and field. During his spare time, it’s not uncommon to see Donovan volunteering his services to a homeless shelter in Phoenix where he helps to feed the homeless. Currently, Donovan sits on the board of two nonprofit organizations – Green Nonprofits, Inc. and Queens Sickle Cell Advocacy Network, Inc. in New York City.