May 26, 2024

Avs’ Home Ice Advantage Hangs in the Balance Amid Costly Defensive Lapses

The Colorado Avalanche‘s chance at the Central Division title became pretty improbable with their loss to Dallas on Sunday. Dallas already had the edge in points, so with the game in hand advantage neutralized, the only scenarios that could get the Avs to first place include Dallas losing several games.

The Stars sit at 107 points and the Avs are in second place with 102. Both teams have four games left in the season, and Colorado’s schedule includes some tough games down the stretch with Vegas, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.

They’ll need to accrue their own wins alongside some Dallas losses to pull it off.

So with that in mind, the Avs face the possibility of a Winnipeg Jets matchup for the first round opponent. Whether the Avs will have home ice advantage or not is still in their hands.

We’ll get to the implications of that in our upcoming series preview, but it’s important to evaluate areas that the Avs need to focus on in preparation for playoff hockey.

Defensive Breakdowns

Turnovers, misguided d-zone coverage, poor lane management – Colorado’s game against Dallas had it all. It wasn’t just ugly for Colorado’s D, it was ugly for their entire team defense.

Colorado was caught leaving the zone too soon without pucks and Dallas played underneath them. They got beat along the walls and the Stars sustained zone pressure.

“The quality and quantity (of) the defending breakdowns that we had, we did some dumb stuff today and they led to really good scoring chances against,” said Jared Bednar.

Let’s break it down goal by goal. The first goal-against contained a rough turnover. Sam Girard sent an outlet pass to center ice and Chris Tanev picked it up and set Matt Duchene up in transition. Duchene skated down the slot past a diving Josh Manson and waited out Alexandar Georgiev to slip it backdoor.

On the second goal, Miro Heiskanen turn-styled Sean Walker in the corner to keep the play alive and Jamie Benn sent the puck to the opposite wall.

Esa Lindell teed up Wyatt Johnston for the slapshot, but his stick broke on execution and Lindell skated in to send the puck to Benn at the corner of the crease for the redirect. Walker committed to coverage out high and Benn was left at the net alone. Jack Johnson was there, but Craig Smith was his assignment.

Similarly, Joel Kiviranta was caught on the play covering no one because too many Avs committed to the right side. Ross Colton was there because he slid to block Johnston’s shot before his stick broke, so I saw the vision behind his decision.

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