Colorado has lost seven of their last nine games and if you’re looking for players to point fingers at (if you’re not pointing them at coach Joe Sacco) you can point them at Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov.
Johnson is the team’s top defenseman and he’s got no goals, eight assists and a horrible -9 plus/minus rating second only to Jan Hejda for worst on the team (Hejda is -12). After a hot start, Varlamov has cooled off in a big way seeing his goals against average jump above 3.00 and his save percentage dip below .900 on the season. That combination of porous defense and bad goaltending means the Avalanche are taking it on the chin.
Making matters worse is that both players were guys that GM Doug Sherman acquired to turn things around in Colorado. Johnson was brought in with Jay McClement in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart. Meanwhile, Varlamov was brought in while the Avs gave up their 2012 first round pick to Washington. If this losing trend continues, the Caps will reap the benefits of an Avalanche failure. If that failure happens, it could be Sherman and Sacco paying the price for it.
While the defense can do more than their fair share to turn things around, the offense could use a spark too. While Matt Duchene has struggled getting moved up and down the lineup, he’s all of a sudden the Avalanche top scorer. The problems are mounting in Denver, but Johnson and Varlamov getting their groove back would turn it all around again.