The Colorado Avalanche have one primary goal heading into tonight’s game against Los Angeles a the Pepsi Center.
Get a win on home ice.
Heading into Sunday action, the Avs were the only team in the NHL without a single home point and one of just two without a home win. (The other, New York, has only played two home dates thanks to opening in Europe and renovations to MSG.)
Explaining Colorado’s home struggles is no easy task.
On the road, Colorado has had no problem scoring goals — 27 in seven games, an average of 3.86 goals per game. Yet that same production has disappeared within the confines of the Pepsi Center, as the Avs have been shutout by Detroit and lost 3-1 to both Chicago and Edmonton with the lone goals coming from the Rine-O brothers, Ryan O’Byrne and Ryan O’Reilly.
So, what gives?
“They made some boneheaded turnovers, they only played with any real desperation at the end, took some dumb penalties and essentially played a leadership-free game,” wrote the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater following Friday’s 3-1 loss to Edmonton. “Sound familiar? It certainly should at home, where every game for the last calendar year has seemed exactly the same. Not just on the ice, but the in the arena itself, where the Avs’ game-night entertainment staff gives renewed meaning to the word ‘stale’ every single time.”
The ‘every game for the last calendar year’ bit is especially telling. Dating back to last season the Avs are 1-7 in their last eight at home, a place where — traditionally — the club has been dominant (insert theories about Mile High air here.) While it’s still early in the year, the lack of success at Pepsi is starting to show amongst Avalanche players. “That’s three games lost at home right now. This should be our barn,” O’Reilly said after Friday’s loss. “We should be used to the air and we should be in better shape than most teams, and that’s killing us right now.”
Colorado has a chance to get its first home win tonight against Los Angeles, but it won’t be easy. The Kings have yet to lose a road game in regulation this season and their top two centers, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards, are on fire. Kopi tallied his fifth goal of the season on Saturday night and has 13 points in 10 games, while Richards is averaging a point per game (2 goals, 8 assists).
Update: Avs won.