Skip to main content

Avalanche say 'there's no panic in our room'

by Rick Sadowski

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- After losing two consecutive road games with an offense that has suddenly gone cold, the Colorado Avalanche expressed confidence Friday they will turn things around Saturday at Pepsi Center against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

"We know that we've got some areas to work on and some areas need to get better, but there's no panic in our room," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We believe in ourselves. It's 2-2 and it's certainly going to be fun from here on. It's not easy to win on the road."

The Avalanche were outshot 78-34 in losing 1-0 in overtime and 2-1 at Xcel Energy Center, where goalie Semyon Varlamov kept them in Games 3 and 4.

"That's your job, stop the puck," said Varlamov, who was named a Vezina Trophy finalist Friday. "Doesn't matter how many shots, 15 or 45. You have to continue to work, continue to just work hard, keep fighting. We knew it was not going to be an easy series for us. It's going to be interesting games coming up. It's not frustration. We've been scoring lots of goals in the season and sometimes you just can't score. It's happened once in a while."

Coach Patrick Roy took exception when asked if the Avalanche "would show up" Saturday after being outplayed in Games 3 and 4.

"We need to be patient with our group," he said, adding that home teams in the Western Conference are 15-1 in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. "This is a young team, a team, let's not forget, that finished 29th last year. This is a huge step and this is a learning process. I think it's rude to ask are we going to show up. I think we deserve more respect. I'm proud of my team and I'm not going to throw them under the bus because I'm their partner. My glass is half-full.

"Am I satisfied? The answer is no, but let's not forget we're playing against a good team, a team that played really well in their building. Their fans were outstanding and all they did to us is what we did to them. We know we can do better, and we will."

Roy said the Avalanche need to move their feet more, get back to their skating game and start winning 1-on-1 battles that are proving to be grittier than in regular-season play.

"Their defensemen played really well and their goalie (Darcy Kuemper) did a good job not giving too many rebounds, plus we missed the net too many times," Roy said. "Their forecheck was more aggressive than it was in Denver. Where they made a good adjustment is defensive-zone coverage.

"We could make one little adjustment a little different that I think will help us and that's what I'm going to show our guys. Obviously I'm not going to tell you what it is. I think we're right there with them and now it's our turn to put our [courage] on the table."

The Landeskog-Paul Stastny-Nathan MacKinnon line was shut out in Minnesota after combining for seven goals and 10 assists in the first two games. Ryan O'Reilly has two goals and Jamie McGinn has one. The Avalanche haven't gotten a point from the third or fourth line or a goal from a defenseman.

"We have to do a better job of getting the puck out of the zone and getting into the forecheck," Stastny said. "The last few years we've really fed off that forecheck. They jumped on us, and when you're playing in your defensive zone all the time you're just chipping it out and they're getting it right back in. They've done a good job clogging up the neutral zone. We have to do a better job of either coming out right away or have the [defense] bring it back and slow it down and then bring it out and set up the forecheck."

Including Game 2, when Kuemper stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief of Ilya Bryzgalov, the 23-year-old rookie has saved 47 of 48.

"Our offense hasn't done much," Stastny said. "And when we had power plays we didn't really test him. Those are the games, when you're not playing your best and you get four or five power plays, you have to find a way to score and we didn't do that. Last game they won the special teams and that was the difference in the game."

The only power-play goal the Avalanche have in 15 chances came with 14.2 seconds left in Game 2 when Stastny scored into an empty net to seal a 4-2 win. Colorado went 0-for-11 on power plays against Minnesota in five regular-season games.

"That’s clearly an issue that’s been magnified the last two games," defenseman Erik Johnson said. "It didn’t matter when we won the first two games at home, but those things stand out more when you lose."

After leading Avalanche defensemen in regular-season scoring with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists), Johnson has one assist averaging a team-high 27:04 in ice time against the Wild. Johnson said he and defense partner Jan Hejda have to get more involved in the offense, especially with Tyson Barrie out with a knee injury.

"We’re playing the big minutes and all year we’ve been relied upon to get the job done," he said. "I’d like to add a little more offense than what we’ve had so far. Games 1 and 2 we had some chances, but the last couple of games there wasn’t a ton of room out there and we have to be better in creating that room. For me and Jan we got to be better because we play those big minutes against the top lines. If we’re not generating any offense we’ve got to make sure we’re not being scored upon.

"We were feeling good about ourselves when we won those first two games, as we should have. Then we lost the last two games and obviously you’re not going to feel great about yourselves losing two in a row. You realize how important your home-ice advantage is. We worked all year for home-ice advantage and hopefully we’re going to use that advantage for the better [Saturday]."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.