Avalanche Thoughts – At Least It Was Short (2013 Season Review)
My thoughts on the 2013 Colorado Avalanche season.
The best thing about the Colorado Avalanche season? It only lasted 48 games. This may have been the worst season in franchise history when you factor in how poor the team played on the ice, the contract situation with Ryan O’Reilly, the incompetence of management, Jean Sebastien Giguere calling out the team, and the lack of fan support.
Things just never got rolling for the team.
It started off on a bad note when they couldn’t get O’Reilly signed before the season opened. The situation dragged on and in the end, Avalanche management had to bite the bullet, thanks to a Calgary Flames offer sheet, and pay O’Reilly more than they were willing to pay and when O’Reilly returned to the locker room, I think a lot of his teammates resented him for holding out. On top of that, Steve Downie tore his ACL in the second game of the season and missed the rest of the year.
It looked as if things would turn around when they were the team to end the Chicago Blackhawks point streak. They followed that up with an outstanding team effort against the San Jose Sharks, capped off by Matt Duchene’s game winner in OT at time expired. That victory brought the team back to .500. It was all downhill after that. The team lost 13 of their next 15 and the season pretty much ended.
Following a loss to Calgary Flames, which ended a stretch of one win in nine games, back-up goalie JS Giguere called out the team for their lack of effort. It was nice to see that someone on the team still cared, but it was too little too late as the Avs finished last in the Western Conference for the year.
Matt Duchene turned into a star. He signed the contract O’Reilly should’ve signed as well, taking just 3.5 million over two years in order to prove himself after and up and down rookie contract. And prove himself he did. He got in tremendous shape during the off-season and showed up ready to play. He tied for the team lead in points, finished second in goals, and won 55% of his faceoffs.
P.A. Parenteau and John Mitchell were two outstanding signings that actually paid off. Parenteau tied Duchene for the team lead in points and led the team in goals. He and Duchene found instant chemistry and became one of the league’s top duos. Mitchell scored 10 goals to go along with 20 points, threw his body around, and blocked shots. Those numbers may have been better if Mitchell was shifted to the wing when O’Reilly returned.
Cody McLeod, Patrick Bordeleau and Jamie McGinn were slight positives as well. McLeod did what you would expect of him, which is hit a lot and fight, but he also scored eight goals. Many think he’s now a legitimate top six forward, and while I wouldn’t go that far, he definitely stepped his game up offensively. Bordeleau turned into a solid 4th line player who worked hard on every shift. McGinn could’ve had a better season than his 11 goals but he hit the post about 50 times and was a healthy scratch for a game because Joe Sacco doesn’t know what he’s doing. He always worked hard on every shift and played tough on the boards and in front of the net.
The negatives? Everything else.
Gabriel Landeskog wasn’t himself, although that can partially be blamed on an early season injury and the fact that he was rushed back. He also had the added pressure of being named the captain. It wasn’t a disappointing year for Landeskog, it just wasn’t what we had come to expect following his rookie season. No power play goals is a pretty big deal though.
O’Reilly played well when he was in the line-up, but when you’re about to become the highest paid player on the team, “well” isn’t good enough. Speaking of high paid players, Paul Stastny had another disappointing season. An injury sidelined him for 8 games but he still only put up nine goals and 24 points. The less said about David Jones the better. He was a healthy scratch down the stretch and scored three goals in 33 games. Oh yeah, he got paid 4 million dollars.
The defense contributed nothing to the offense. Erik Johnson is supposed to be an elite two-way defenseman. He scored 0 goals. Matt Hunwick was in the line up because of his offensive upside. He scored 0 goals. The defense has a whole only scored 4 goals. This would’ve been fine if they played good defense, but the team was 26th in goals against. They rarely made opposing players pay for standing in front of the net and the slot was always wide open.
Semyon Varlamov wasn’t good, especially on the road. He made a lot of big saves, but they rarely came early or late as the team always seemed to give up the first goal of the game or a late third period goal that turned out to be the game winner. I still think Varlamov can be the #1 guy, but the defense in front of him has to improve first.
Special teams were abysmal, the division record was abysmal, and the road record was abysmal.
I wanted Joe Sacco fired about 100 different times during the season. It never happened. But it did come the day after the season ended. Thank the great Lord above us.
I’m not going to speak on all the things Sacco did wrong as a head coach. I’ve already written too many words on that subject. I’m just happy that management realized that it was time for a change and quickly moved on after the season. Sacco is not a NHL coach. Hell, he wasn’t a very good AHL coach. Now he’ll lead Team USA in the World Championships to a last place finish and hopefully never be heard from again.
The season is now in the past and the only thing I can hope for is that the team hires a head coach that knows what he’s doing, makes some roster changes to improve the team and lands the #1 overall pick to draft Seth Jones. Given Stan Kroenke’s nonchalant attitude towards the team, I’ll be happy if just one of those things happens.