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Avalanche Learning The Hard Way

Sometimes it takes losing for a lesson to be taught

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /

It's safe to say that Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators wasn't the prettiest of performances for the Colorado Avalanche.

Team captain Gabriel Landeskog was one of many who thought the club could and should have done better, and he wants everyone to know it.

"Tonight, it's got to be said that this was embarrassing, and I promise all the Avs fans out there that this is not going to happen at home again," Landeskog said after the match.

The game was a back-and-forth, scoring-chance bonanza early, and ultimately that spelled doom for the home team, which fell to a deficit first for the sixth time in eight games this season. 

Video: Head coach Jared Bednar on the loss to Nashville

"It's not at all how we want to play. It's pretty bad," head coach Jared Bednar said of the overall effort. "The first period, we traded chances the whole time, which isn't what we want to do. We created some real good looks. So did they. Then after that, I just felt like their big guys turned it up a notch and we didn't. We didn't find the intensity that we needed for the game. So it was disappointing because it's a chance for us to go a couple games above .500, and now we're just spinning in the mud again."

Bednar has often discussed paying attention to detail and putting in the work to be successful. It is the core foundation of what he wants from his team, and when the players do what he expects, they frequently end up victorious.

"That's the one thing we're trying to make sure [of], that we're getting certain things out of our group every night. When we get them, we give ourselves a good chance to win," said the first-year NHL bench manager. "When we don't get them, right now it's a guaranteed loss. If you look at the games we've lost over the course of the season, we haven't come to compete hard enough, and then in the ones we do, we're playing really well. Sometimes it's even within a game, but I think in the games when we're ready to go and we're playing well, we're there and we're competing and things are going our way."

For the Avs, competing hard starts when the puck drops and runs throughout. That's the only way to find the 'W' when the game-clock expires. Colorado just hasn't done that often enough.

Video: Nathan MacKinnon talks the game vs. Nashville

"We've been sleepy, haven't got the first goal very much this year. It sucks. Some games we work hard and we win," Nathan MacKinnon said. "We talked about the games that we showed up to work. We won all of them except the Winnipeg game."

"I think statistically we've only scored the first goal in two out of eight games, and that's not going to get us anywhere. We have to find a way. We're a quick team. We're a young team. We're a fast team, a skilled team, but we're also gritty," said Landeskog. "We got to find ways to score that first one because every time you've got to work from behind, it will take a lot more juice out of you to work being down one or two or whatever.

"Obviously, in Pittsburgh we came back and won that game, but it's not going to work in the long run. So we've got to find ways to come out with more juice in the start."

Now, it's about learning from the bumps and bruises and missteps and mistakes and false starts and poor finishes. The team is eager, the season young and the coaching staff fresh and ready to teach.

"To a man, I think we all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and really reflect on the way we come to work every day," Landeskog said. "We're going to come to the rink tomorrow with a new attitude and reload. We don't have time to sit around and mope around. We've got to come to work."

Video: Gabriel Landeskog reflects on loss to Predators

"I think [it's about] how we respond in the immediate future, and then learning from this now," said Bednar. "We're eight games in, so every team is a little bit like this, or the teams that are not leading the division or the conference are a little bit like this. We have to start having a long-term response and learning from some of the mistakes we're making right now, and I believe we'll get there. The guys are saying and doing the right things postgame, which is a start. Now, we've got to make sure we're ready at the start of the game."

It starts at practice on Wednesday, and then the squad has a chance to turn the page and show what it can do on Thursday at the Chicago Blackhawks. The Avs are in a stretch that sees them face three Central Division clubs by the end of this week, and every one of those contests will be important.

"They're big. We need to beat our divisional teams," MacKinnon said. "We haven't done that the last couple games. We have a three-in-four with some very good teams that are having success right now. We've got to be desperate."



"I think that's more a result of the way we were playing. We're taking penalties because we're losing battles and then taking penalties. We're not doing the early work, so we end up in bad spots and take the penalty. I think it's a result of our play." - Bednar on Colorado's five penalties



It's that time of year again. Everyone's (least) favorite month of men's facial fashion has finally arrived.

Movember is upon us, and the Colorado Avalanche is again taking part in the mustache mayhem. Ten players will be sporting lip sweaters for the next 30 days, looking dapper or struggling to string together some facial hair, in support of men's health initiatives, Hockey Fights Cancer and the November Foundation.

"It's going to be ugly for me," said Colborne, who official started growing his 'stache today. "A few of the guys are cheating already. [Calvin Pickard] has had his for about a month already, so that's not fair, especially for a guy like me who it will take most of the month just so people can actually see it."

The Avs are looking for your support and figure a muzzy, no matter how big or small or soft or tough, is a good trade off for raising funds and awareness.

"It's for a great cause. It will be fun," Colborne said. "I'm going to be on some other guys to pick it up and join."

For more information and to find links to donate, visit the team's special Movember page.

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