|6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ETNaN:� BRT, February 5, 2019
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado Attendance: 15,398
Struggling Avalanche, Jackets seeking answers, wins
The Colorado Avalanche are no longer in a slump. After a 5-1 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the Avalanche are in a free fall. With only five wins in their last 22 games, it's a deep dive from a strong playoff position to outside the postseason picture and no clear answers to right the ship.
At least they have company in the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus (28-20-3) has lost five in a row, the last 4-2 against the St. Louis Blues, and it has slipped to the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The two struggling teams meet in Denver on Tuesday night and one of them, at least for a night, will stop the bleeding.
For Columbus, the game might be the difference between the start of a playoff push or becoming a seller at the Feb. 25 trading deadline. The two most likely candidates to be dealt are forward Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, two unrestricted free agents after the season.
The possibility of a roster change could be playing a part in losing five in a row.
"I don't know," coach John Tortorella said, when posed with that question after the loss to St. Louis, according to the Columbus Dispatch. "We knew that this stuff was going to be around. I think they've handled themselves very well, and now it's getting toward that deadline. I think it happens with all teams anyway, when there's just normal circumstances of maybe a team changing a couple players here and there. ..."
The Avalanche will likely be in the market for a new goaltender this summer -- or sooner if they have their sights on making the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 13 years. Colorado's goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer has not played well in the two-month slide, and Varlamov is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Varlamov and Grubauer aren't the only issues plaguing Colorado (22-21-8). Defensive breakdowns and lack of offense have also hurt the Avalanche. Oftentimes, if the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog aren't scoring, then goals are scarce.
Head coach Jared Bednar switched up lines at the start of the Vancouver game but had the trio back together before the end of the first period after two quick goals by the Canucks.
"What we're tending to do as a team right now is we're hoping for offense," Bednar said after Saturday's loss. "We're down one, so we have to make something happen and we force the puck into the wrong areas and it goes the other way, so we're compounding our problem."
Bednar also changed up the defensive pairings with the return of Erik Johnson but it didn't make a difference.
"The two things we have talked about recently is our defending commitment and how hard we have to work, how hard we have to compete in those battles, how aware we have to be in those structural situations," Bednar said. "Then the other one is the puck decisions that can get you in trouble, and we weren't good at either one of them."
Colorado needs to get better at many things or, like Columbus, could be sellers in a few weeks and not playoff contenders.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 4, 2019