After winning 12 of their last 14 games, the Colorado Avalanche have struggled in the past two against the St. Louis Blues and the Nashville Predators. The Avalanche currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference and are tied (Vancouver, 44) for the most games played in the conference, which also doesn't help their playoff hopes.
In games after a loss this season Colorado is 10-10 but they have had losing streaks of three (twice) and four games just a little over halfway through the season.
The loss to St. Louis ranks as one of the worst of the 2011 season for Colorado as they were shutout for just the fourth time. Jean-Sebastian Giguere did allow four goals but the Avalanche couldn't get anything started offensively whatsoever, being out-shot 39-15, the biggest shot differential of the season.
They did play the night before in Chicago, where they shutout the Blackhawks 4-0, and fatigue could've been a reason for a beat-down in St. Louis. However, there really isn't any excuse for their next loss to Nashville three days later at home.
Semyon Varlamov allowed three first period goals and an unproductive offense kept Colorado out of the game thereafter. It was evident that it was going to be a long night at the Pepsi Center when the Avalanche only managed to shoot five pucks on net while already facing a large deficit.
In the last four games (2-2) Varlamov has started three of them, even though it's apparent that Giguere has been better over the course of the season. Coach Joe Sacco seems to being going the "Boston" route, playing two goalies for most of the season and then will have a big decision to make if Colorado can manage to sneak into the playoffs.
Are the Colorado Avalanche a Playoff Team?
Regardless of who is in net for the Avalanche they need to make a major move with the coaching staff. Colorado is the only team in the NHL without a full-time goalie coach on their staff. Sure, Giguere is a veteran and knows a lot about goaltending but Varlamov is still 23 years old and could use some instruction.
Another reason for Colorado's struggles have come from injuries, mainly the knee injury to Matt Duchene. He is projected to miss a month of hockey which seriously hurts the Avalanche's overall play. The defense has been plagued by injuries as of late and the pairings are growing weaker and weaker by the night.
Colorado plays seven more games before the NHL All-Star Break starting on January 26. Their next game will be against the same Predators team that just defeated them on Tuesday. Of the other six games, four will be against teams in the same boat as Colorado, either just in the playoff mix or a point or two out.
It should be a very interesting rest of the way for the Colorado Avalanche, that's for sure.