Week #2 wasn’t the best week for the Avs Faithful, but it certainly was an important one as we navigate through this 2021 NHL season. We saw the NHL debut of Bowen Byram, incredible moves by Nathan MacKinnon, and roster fixtures move in and out of the lineup. Colorado went 2-2 on their California Road Trip, playing against the Los Angeles Kings (0-1), the Anaheim Ducks (1-1), and the San Jose Sharks (1-0) in that order. Key depth components like Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher failed to record a single goal during the week, but offensive stars like Mikko Rantanen continue to pepper the net with quality shots. Depth was the huge gap for the Avs this week, and will be without a solution.

In good news, Forward Andre Burakovsky appears to have returned to playing form after a slow start last Friday (thank god). On Tuesday, Erik Johnson was back on the roster to help the slow-starting Avs defense. Many of the key consistencies for the Av’s have not picked up; last year’s Plus/Minus leader Ryan Graves has been ice cold with a -5 Plus/Minus on the season so far. Cale Makar hasn’t found his scoring touch quite yet either, recording no goals through 6 but recording 5 assists. Defensemen Greg Pateryn and Conor Timmins have been bouncing around between waivers and the taxi squad respectively as the blue line tinkering continues. Backup goaltender Pavel Francouz is still out for the foreseeable future, leaving some risk in net. 

Photo Origin: Mile High Hockey

The Good

When the Avs win, they win in big ways. Gabriel Landeskog was able to pot a clean game-winner last Friday, the 22nd, in overtime to show what the Avalanche 3 on 3 is capable of this year. The Colorado Avalanche have been notoriously terrible in the overtime period, and if they can go above .500 in OT games this year that will be huge especially during the shortened season. In addition, the 7-3 victory against the San Jose Sharks last night will hopefully be instrumental in building offensive confidence going forward.

I’m all in on Bowen Byram on defense. His positioning has been solid and he looks comfortable as an NHLer so far. Leave him on the third pairing and I think that will do wonders to his development, giving this team much needed speed while providing the top four with fresh legs if he stays on the ice for extended periods of time. Can he stay consistent on the blue line? Hopefully he doesn’t become an additional risk in the Avs depth.

In addition, was a solution at depth spotted at practice? Marshawn Lynch was seen wearing a Colorado Avalanche practice jersey during a skate session with Akim Aliu this past week. Will Beast Mode arrive in the Mile High City this season? I’m taking him for a solid fourth-line enforcer; Broad Street Bullies who?

The Bad

The 2021 Colorado Avalanche have no clue how to deal with a red hot goalie. Both games against Jonathan Quick and the Kings and John Gibson and his Ducks were easily winnable games that the Avs just couldn’t pull off. The offense isn’t always high quality and the defense/goaltending situation has been frustrating throughout the week. The Avalanche forwards always take a high volume of shots but they either clang off the post or land right in the lap of the opposing goaltender. Can’t win the game if the puck isn’t in the back of the net.

Philipp Grubauer doesn’t have quality relief right now. Pavel Francouz is still out due to an undisclosed lower-body injury, and AHL regular Hunter Miska had a shaky NHL starting debut during the aforementioned Thursday game against the Kings.

Photo Origin: Debora Robinson/NHL

The Important

The lack of pre-season is showing throughout the entire Avs roster through Week #2. Line combinations have been off and nothing has been truly solidified. While it’s only been six games, a 3-3 start is never where you want to see a Stanley Cup favorite be at. It gives slight relief to see other top teams throughout the league face similar struggles; looking for chemistry throughout the roster and dropping winnable games without a preseason to solidify their roster.

I have high hopes for this 2021 Colorado Avalanche team, they just need to play like they belong in the Stanley Cup discussion. Go Avs Go!

My name is Aaron Fesh and I am a contributor to West Division NHL content for Belly Up Sports. I spent the 2019-20 season with the National Hockey League as a member of their NHL Power Players Youth Advisory Board. Please follow @AaronFesh and @BellyUpHockey on Twitter for more hockey content like this!

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