CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Focusing on the process and making progress is all the Colorado Avalanche can do right now.
There's no point in looking at the standings and nothing to gain from worrying about how other teams are going to play. The Avalanche wants to improve and that will only come from within.
"I think what's important for us at this point in the season, [we] just got to focus on how we play and how we prepare and focus on the process, really," team captain Gabriel Landeskog said following Monday's practice. "You look at the standings, you're going to get discouraged. We all know what the standings look like at this point, but we just got to focus on how we play and the way we prepare ourselves and the way we try to change the culture in this dressing room."
Little by little, things are starting to change for the Avalanche, although the results don't always seem to show it.
"Offensively, I feel like we see progress, and I think if you look at our shots on net, we create more scoring chances and we have that shot mentality, which is something that we need," said Landeskog. "In the first half of the season, we weren't shooting nearly enough, as we are right now. So the offensive game is there. I think we're getting out of our zone a lot better and our breakouts are a lot cleaner, things like that that we have to keep building on. Eventually, the results are going to come."
Video: Gabriel Landeskog after Avalanche practice
So for now, Colorado will be staying the course, which is to say that the squad will continue working on the minute details that, once perfected, will bring consistent success in all areas of the game.
"Our focus isn't going to change; it's us trying to get better every day and making sure that we stay positive and evaluate our team on how we come to the rink every day to get our work done and where we can improve," head coach Jared Bednar said. "Same thing with our games. I think our players are doing a better job at narrowing their focusing and concentrating on our games on a nightly basis, just looking to take it one game at a time and make sure we be the best we can be."
One area of emphasis, agreed upon by both the coach and the players, is eliminating the self-defeating mistakes that ultimately cost the team on the regular.
"It is frustrating. I still think that we're doing things to ourselves that are costing us, but you compare it to a month ago or two months ago, I feel like the way we play the game is a lot better and the way we're managing our game is a lot better and things like that," said Landeskog. "Those are the positives that you're going to have to focus on. Obviously, we all want to win hockey games, and believe me that's all we're trying to do out there, but when that's not happening you have to find ways to still keep your head in the process and keep focusing on the things that you're doing right. Eventually, I think we're going to turn this thing around.
"For the most part, I feel like we're playing the right way and we play the way we want to play. We just have to make sure that we're managing the game as good as we can and making sure that we force the other team to make mistakes instead of us doing it and handing mistakes to them."
Bednar admitted that his club is certainly gaining ground in a variety of areas of improvement, but that the waxing and waning attention to detail is certainly the Avalanche's Kryptonite at the moment.
Video: Update on Avalanche from coach Jared Bednar
"There's still some inconsistencies there, for certain. You take last game, we played a great game. We played a great game. Shot ourselves in the foot a couple times," he said. "It's a hard-fought game, we're in a position to win it and we come up empty. It's going to be real tough to win, especially the second half of the year. Team's are tightening up their game, as we are, and people are fighting for and jockeying for playoff position and where they're trying to get to. So you have to be tight and consistent in what you do, and we have to find a way to get points out of those games or win those games instead of shooting ourselves in the foot.
"We've talked about different things getting us on most nights, but we're improving over the last short term on our discipline. We've improved a little bit on our O-zone turnovers, our O-zone blue line turnovers, through the neutral zone we've made better puck decisions, we defended real well last game; just couple plays hurt us and ended up costing the game."
Colorado's 3-2 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon could certainly appear to detract from where the Avs feel they are as far as being a work in progress since the contest was certainly winnable.
"That game, it feels like that's a game that we need to find ways win and that we need to win, but it didn't happen. I wouldn't say it detracts or discourages us," Landeskog said. "We all want to win, believe me. We all want to win, and we're trying as hard as we can. When you're not getting the results you have to find ways to stay focused on what you have to do, and to become a better hockey team you have to focus on the positives, really.
"Obviously, we have a lot of work to do in this dressing room, and we've acknowledged that, but to change the culture of this team and of this dressing room, we have to start focusing on the process, really, and making sure that we play the right way. And I feel like we're getting there."
It's going to take hard work and a strong resolve to create any sort of second-half turnaround, and Landeskog knows that it starts at practice.
"This is the best job in the world. It's not hard at all, but obviously it's a business that's built off of results," he said. "If you're not getting the results, you're not doing your job right. But we're excited to come to the rink every day because you have to. If you're not excited to come to the rink, it's hard to get better. It's like any job; you go through tough times at times, and you have to fight your way through it."