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Avalanche's Top Need Going into Offseason Is Improving Defense

James CriderCorrespondent IApril 29, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 28:  Adam Foote #52 of the Colorado Avalanche in action during their game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on March 28, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Organizationally, the Avalanche's strength lies in their plethora of defensemen chomping at the bit to get into the NHL. Yet, such strengths still may not be enough to make up for weaknesses that can only be described as shameful.

Despite spending over $20 million on defensemen for the 2009-2010 season, the product on the ice was laughable. The Avalanche allowed the sixth-most shots in the NHL during the regular season, and the third-most in the playoffs.

They also finished with the second fewest shots on goal per game in the regular season, which shows how much of the play took place in their own zone.

Luckily, Craig Anderson had previously gone through the most intense form of goalie training known to mantwo seasons of playing with the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers reclaimed the dubious honor of having the most shots allowed for the second straight season in 2010. These massive shots stem from one major problem—an inability to get the puck out of the zone.

It's simple, really.

If you can't get the puck up the ice to your forwards, then they can't score. Conversely, if you can't get the puck out of your own zone, then the other team will score.

Both are signs of a bad team, and that's what the Avalanche were at the end of the season.

Besides Liles, the Avalanche lacked puck movement from the back end. Quincey has some skill with the puck, but his decision-making ability declined towards the end of the season.

Cumiskey has the speed and the offensive tools, but for some reason can't get it all together. He was a turnover machine in the playoffs, which resulted in opposing teams scoring key goals.

The Avalanche have players in the system who are known for their prowess with the puck, but it's too large a task to ask a player fresh from college or the juniors to fill the gaping hole in the No. 1 defenseman role.

Mediocrity is what can be found this offseason in terms of defensemen.

The Avalanche will likely be unable to draft someone who will make an instant impact given where they select (currently 18th). So, it remains a mystery what Avalanche management will do to fix one of the worst defenses in the NHL.

What isn't a mystery is where the Avalanche will finish next season if nothing is doneout of the playoffs.

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