Check on the Avs fans in your life; they’re on quite a rollercoaster right now.
The Avalanche went into the road trip top of the division with eight wins in the last ten games and had a 12-6-1 record. It seemed like it would be a standard road trip, with the Boston Bruins being the only team to worry about. They still had their dominant offense and dependable defense, but the injury bug hit the Avs hard. They haven’t had Captain Gabe Landeskog all season, star winger Valeri Nichushkin has been out due to his ankle, and they lost several key players during this road trip. Things quickly became a challenge.
Game 1: Winnipeg, November 29
The Jets capitalized on the power play early in the first, and floodgates were open. Earlier in the second, it seemed like the Jets doubled their lead, but the Avalanche challenged for goaltender interference, and Blake Wheeler’s goal was overturned. The Avs’ sense of security was quickly diminished when Josh Morrissey fired a 94-mile-per-hour shot past Alexandar Georgiev. The Jets were up 3-0 going into the third and scored in the period’s opening minutes. The game ended with a defensive breakdown and Blake Wheeler scoring a hat trick.
It was a game of turnovers. Georgiev stopped 19 of 24 shots, the Avs spent a lot of time in the box, and they had two power plays they couldn’t capitalize on. There wasn’t much to praise in that game except that Jean Luc Foudy made his NHL debut. Foudy has been in Colorado since 2021 and became a fan favorite with the Eagles.
Takeaways: The Avs need to keep possession of the puck and stay out of the box.
Game 2: Buffalo, December 1
It was Nathan MacKinnon’s night, and the Avs were back in the win column. At 8:27 of the first, Devon Toews drew a hooking penalty, and the Avs were on the power play. Toews passed to MacKinnon, who found JT Compher. He sent a shot right over Luukkonen to score the opening goal. Buffalo got one back a minute and a half later. The Avs went into the second down 2-1.
The Avs came back in with a fire in them in the second. They scored two on the power play and took command of the game back. The Sabres got one back on a third-period 5-on-3 power play, but it wasn’t enough. Rantanen had an empty net goal at 19:25, and the Avs got out of Buffalo with a 5-3 win.
Takeaways: While the game was a challenge and not the best of Avs hockey, it’s a game they can look back on during this difficult stretch and remind themselves they can win.
Game 3: Boston, December 3
This was a highly talked about game—the Stanley Cup Champions vs. the Red Hot Bruins, a match-up for the ages. But with injuries playing the Avs, this was not the gritty, tough affair fans were hoping for.
Boston proved they are one of the top teams in the league by dominating possession and controlling play throughout the game. The Avs had 15 SOG on in the first but trailed 2-0 going into the second. David Pastrnak and Trent Frederic scored.
In the second, Boston extended their lead with another goal from Pastrnak. The Avs had a couple of scoring opportunities, but Linus Ullmark denied them. Up 3-0, Boston had a chance to extend their lead even further when Tomas Nosek was awarded a penalty shot. Pavel Francouz smothered it, keeping the Avs somewhat in the game. It was overall a very bad period for the Avs, especially since Artturi Lehkonen left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Andrew Cogliano ruined Ullmark’s shutout in the third and cut the deficit to 3-1 in the third. The hope was short-lived as Boston buried two goals in ten seconds and finished the night with a 5-1 win.
Take Aways: The Avs had more fights in this game; they need to keep that up. They’re down but not out. Even with all the injuries, they still have depth scoring they can use in Cogliano and other players.
Game 4: Philadelphia, December 5
The last stop of the road trip was in Philadelphia, and despite their ever-growing list of injuries, the Avs had some fire in them. The final score was 5-3 Flyers, but this was a much better game for the Avs. Alex Newhook scored twice, including a power play goal, Georgiev made 29 saves, and Charles Hudon made his NHL debut.
Unfortunately, Nathan MacKinnon was slammed into the boards and did not return to the game. He is out for a month with an upper-body injury.
Takeaways: The Avs seem to be getting more used to this blended lineup and are finding consistency. Injuries are still an issue, and they’re not going away soon. The Avs will have to adapt.
The Avalanche face the Bruins again tonight at home. The Bruins faced Vegas on Monday and returned from a three-goal deficit to send the game to a shootout. Vegas ultimately won and snapped their 14-game home win streak, but the Bruins are still on fire.
Tonight’s game for the Avs will be a tough test. The Avs’ injured list includes Evan Rodrigues, Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, Bowen Byram, Artturri Lehkonen, Darren Helm, and Nathan MacKinnon.
The roster for tonight is made up of primarily Colorado Eagles call-ups. Some players, like forward Cal Burke, are making their NHL debut.
Takeaways: Really, the team just needs to get healthy. Until then, they need confidence.