Poor decisions, both with and without the puck, and soft play ultimately cost the Colorado Avalanche in the club's 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
The team jumped on plays at the wrong time, forced the puck into tough situations and dipped in and out of the desired structure too much to sustain any sort of momentum.
"First period, I think we gave up five [odd-man rushes]," head coach Jared Bednar said after the loss. "You know, we kind of have a motto, 'We'll give you one per period.' Three. We try to be under four per game. We gave up five in the first period. The one to start the third, we were killing a penalty. We just made a poor decision, dive outside and they just execute the play and it's in the back of our net. It was just a bad read. Most of them are bad reads.
"Usually when you're giving up an odd-man rush, it's a bad read by either the defense or your [forward]."
Decision making has been the culprit in quite a few of Colorado's recent losses, and it is certainly something that the coaching staff is trying to rectify through video sessions and on-ice scenarios at practice.
Video: Jared Bednar on the loss to the Coyotes
"It's something that we're addressing, and we got to get better at. It's reads that we can't make, especially as veteran guys that have been around the league and understand the league. We have to be better in those areas," said Bednar. "If you look at [Arizona] coming out of their zone tonight, it's hard plays. They use the walls and glass when they need to, and they go chase it down. They're skating into it, and everything we're doing on the wall is just too soft. So decisions and just then soft plays killed us tonight.
"Right now, when we're making those mistakes, teams are capitalizing on them. That looked too similar--although our work ethic was way better--that looked too similar to St. Louis, the mistakes we were making."
For players like Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, only showing glimpses of the game the team is capable of is frustrating.
"It sucks because we're really staying positive. We're really working together as a group, and we're trying to get better every day in practice," Landeskog said. "But for whatever reason, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot and that ultimately hurt us today."
Landeskog is referencing the self-defeating situations that resulted in goals against, namely the odd-man rushes, that proved too costly to overcome.
Video: Captain Gabe Landeskog discusses the loss to Arizona
"Obviously, they get a lucky one there at the start, tough bounce. Either way, at that point we have 59 minutes of hockey and we know that. It felt like we were in control. It felt like the whole time we were positive and sticking with it and doing the right things," he said. "The work was there. We were working hard, and everybody in this room really emptied their tanks tonight. But we had a lapse there at the end of the second period. We can't seem to get our breakouts under control. We can't seem to clear the zone the way we want, and they reload and get a couple bounces off of that.
"After that, it was obviously a tough start to the third [with] the PK there, but I feel like we are doing a lot of good things. Obviously, we don't have the results to back it up, but we are doing some good things out there, and like I said, we're working our bags off out there. We're trying to work as hard as we can and do it together, but tonight it was that lapse at the end of the second and the first shift of the third that killed us."
The Avs gave up markers 28 seconds into the first period and 11 seconds into the third, and while they countered with a quick strike of their own in the middle frame, they couldn't hold onto the lead.
"We got to come out and establish that first five minutes, especially on home ice. We haven't found a way to do that this year," Landeskog said of opening the game with purpose. "We haven't really established a good first period at home, and that's something that we have to find a way to do. We've got to come together as a team and figure this out. We win as a team and lose as a team, so stick with us."
For Bednar, the task at hand is how he can use this stretch as a teachable moment without riding his players about their lapses.
Video: ARI@COL: Peyton Manning, Gary Bettman visit Avs game
"As a coach, you don't want to just always be on them and on them. One thing we try and do is once we address this game, then we should be taking what we're learning and what we're seeing in the video and what we're practicing on, and the next day we turn the page," he said. "I came to the rink today positive, as did our group, hoping they were ready to go. Yesterday was a tough day. It wasn't a fun video session to be in. It wasn't a fun practice to be in. Today, we turned the page, but you hope your team starts to understand the mistakes that we're making.
"They're curable mistakes, and then you get a little better at it and you start showing more positive than negative. That's the end game, and the team starts to buy into what you're doing or start executing a little bit better in those areas. Then we'll have more success. Because right now you look at the game, there are parts of the game where we were really good, but [we have] too many of those mistakes. You can't give up odd-man rushes all the time.
"If we're tentative and not skating and you're a step slow, then sometimes you can get exposed. But if you're going to try and play on your toes, and we've shown we can, then you're aggressive. You're making the right reads, and it's repetition. Then you're usually good and you're creating more than you're giving up."
That's where the Avalanche will start at practice on Thursday, working on identifying weaknesses and fortifying strengths until the process becomes mindless execution.
MAREK SVATOS HONORED
Former Colorado Avalanche Marek Svatos, who passed away over the weekend, was honored with a pregame tribute and moment of silence prior to the start of Tuesday's contest.
Video: ARI@COL: Avalanche honor Marek Svatos's passing
AVS ON ELECTION DAY
The Avalanche doesn't always play on Election Day in the United States, but the club is now 1-1 when it does.
Colorado previously hosted the Minnesota Wild during the 2000 Election (Nov. 7, 2000) and posted a 2-0 victory.
Joe Sakic and Shjon Podein scored the goals and Dan Hinote, Alex Tanguay, Dave Reid and Aaron Miller had helpers. Goaltender Patrick Roy stopped all 23 shots faced for the shutout.
George W. Bush was officially named president on Dec. 13, 2000, when Al Gore conceded.