The Colorado Avalanche lost last night.
This is nothing new. It was the 49th time it happened this season, the 52nd if you count OT and shootout losses. There have been plenty of defeats in Denver, which makes you wonder if they have even an effect anymore.
Individually? Hard to say. But cumulatively? Yeah, it’s starting to take a toll.
With just 10 games left until the season is (mercifully) done, the reality of the situation seems to have hit the Avs. They’re about to become one of the least successful teams in recent history.
Or, as veteran d-man Erik Johnson so bluntly put it to the Denver Post — “We’re the worst team in 20 years.”
Johnson noted the statistical points: The Avalanche has pulled off the difficult feat of being last in the league in goals scored (1.94 per game) and goals allowed (3.31). He could have added, but didn’t, that it goes hand in hand with managing to have the worst record in the league, by far, while scraping the league’s salary-cap ceiling.
“If I had an answer, I’d love to give it to you,” Johnson said. “It’s tough to put into words the way this season has gone.
“I was thinking about it the other day. From last year, we’re missing only (Brad) Stuart, (Nick) Holden and (Nate) Guenin that were regulars, so realistically it’s the same team, maybe with some added pieces, and we had 90 points. We probably should have made the playoffs if we didn’t go on a skid the last six games. So I don’t know how there can be such a faceplant from last year. I don’t understand it, but it’s happened and it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next six months.”
Colorado currently has 43 points and, at its current pace, will finish the year with 48. That would make the Avs the worst team of the salary cap era, rivaling some truly horrific squads all time.
The most staggering aspect is, as mentioned above, that the Avs weren’t actively tanking this season. They have six players making at least $5.5 million annually, and three — Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene — earning $6M per.
There’s also a tremendous amount of term committed to certain players. MacKinnon and Johnson are locked in through 2023, captain Gabriel Landeskog through 2021, and d-man Tyson Barrie through 2020. Those lengthy contracts reflect a front office and ownership group that figured it had the core of its team, and wanted to keep it around long term.
That same core has put forth one of the worst efforts the league has seen in a long time.