In the span of a year, the Colorado Avalanche have gone from winning the Central Division title to being locked into last place in the division. Although that’s a dramatic collapse, one could make the argument that it was foreseeable given the Avalanche’s shortcomings in 2013-14 from an analytics perspective.
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic might agree that the danger signs were there for Colorado going into this season, but he’s not speaking about possession statistics when discussing the Avalanche’s regression.
“I actually thought training camp, the first three days, went really well,” Sakic told the Denver Post. “I thought the guys were flying and excited. As it went on, you could almost sense that guys weren’t quite ready for what to expect coming into the season. We had so much success and smooth sailing the year before, you could see — I won’t say it was a letdown — but we weren’t expecting how other teams were going to play against us. The pressures, the expectations were up there this year, where last year at the start of the year there weren’t a lot of expectations. …
“We had a tough start, faced a lot of adversity and it took some time for our core guys to learn to deal with it.”
Sakic, who naturally had to learn to deal with the burden of expectations during his playing days, did try to warn his players that things would be harder this season, but at the end of the day it seems there could be no substitution for firsthand experience. That being said, the general manager is “proud” with how the Avalanche worked through the adversity.
“I know it took longer than we were hoping, but you could see the smiles, the excitement the last couple of months, where we played much better as a team, more confident, kind of learning to deal with what it’s going to take to get to that next level,” Sakic added.
Colorado is finishing the season on a high note as demonstrated by its 28-18-4 record following a 1-0 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 18. So maybe this season will prove to be an example of taking a step backwards to go two steps forward.
At the same time, the Avalanche still have a lot of work to do from a Corsi/Fenwick perspective.