The Wheels Are Falling Off of the Colorado Avalanche

James CriderCorrespondent INovember 15, 2009

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 11: A puck shot by a member of the Chicago Blackhawks hits the post next to Craig Anderson #41 of the Colorado Avalance at the United Center on November 11, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in a shoot-out. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Nay sayers, unite: the Colorado Avalanche are free falling.

After opening the season a record setting 10-1-2, the Avalanche have stumbled, going 2-4-1 in their last seven games.

Craig Anderson is no longer doing his Patrick Roy impression. Matt Duchene has one point in his last nine games. Paul Stastny continues to do his Yan Stastny impression during road games.

Worst of all, after coach Joe Sacco called tonight's game against Vancouver "a must win," the team responded by getting blown out 8-2 on home ice.

Welcome back, 2008-2009 Colorado Avalanche.

In all seriousness, even though things are going pretty bad right now, it's not to be unexpected: we're talking about the third youngest team in the NHL.

Being young gives the Avalanche a little wiggle room to be inconsistent at times, but it's certainly not an excuse. Some players on this team have to be better.

Marek Svatos and Matt Duchene simply aren't producing at this point, and are a combined minus-16 as a result. I blame both players struggles more on Svatos than I do Duchene; every time he gets the puck, it seems to bounce off his stick like a ping pong ball.

Wojtek Wolski has, like every season, disappeared again. The good news is that he's actually noticeable on the ice every game, but that's not enough to make up for one goal in his last seven games.

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Being an observer of the game, it's very easy for me to point my finger and say "so-and-so isn't doing this." The reality of it all: the Avalanche aren't skilled enough.

This team certainly is full of heart and soul players who will give it their all night in and night out, but the pure skill isn't there.

Coach Joe Sacco has done his best to get the most out of grinders like Cody McLeod, Matt Hendricks, and Darcy Tucker, but you can only do so much with those players.

Coupled with the fact there are some key players out of the lineup (Liles, Galiardi) and players who aren't at 100% in it (Hejduk, Tucker), you're going to face some adversity.

What's important is how the players respond.

Will young guns like Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and David Jones play the team out of the current slump? Or will the Avalanche ride the wave to the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, right where everyone thought they would be?

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