Battered team hitting the road for four games
Could a change of scenery help the Avalanche?
How about a Monday night team bonding outing to hear waiting-to-bediscovered country music performers in a Nashville honky-tonk on Broadway?
Maybe that’s a reach. But now that Colorado (9-13-1) is in sole possession of the worst record in the NHL heading into a four-game road trip that opens against the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday night, it might be time for desperate measures.
The Avalanche — which went 0-4-1 on the justconcluded homestand — didn’t practice Sunday and will be back on the ice at the Family Sports Center on Monday morning before traveling to Nashville.
After Erik Johnson suffered a broken fibula in the 3-0 loss to Dallas on Saturday, and his defensive partner, Fedor Tyutin, missed the game with a lower-body injury, the Avalanche on Sunday night recalled defenseman Cody Goloubef from the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
The defenseman who otherwise would have been the most likely candidate to be recalled, Chris Bigras, is out with an undisclosed injury and hasn’t played since late October. Bigras, 21, played in 31 games for Colorado last season.
Goloubef was acquired from the Columbus organization last week. He played for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons when Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was an assistant there, along with current Avalanche assistant Nolan Pratt, and then for three games with Springfield when Bednar was the head coach in 2014-15. The former Wisconsin Badger has played in 96 NHL games, all with Columbus.
After the loss to Dallas on Saturday, Bednar noted that the Avalanche has some veterans who can speak up about the struggles, but he added: “Then it becomes individual responsibility to jump on board and make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can to help the team win. And that’s every shift. When you’re in something like this, you need it every shift. There’s got to be a focus and an urgency to get out of it.”
Also after the game Saturday, the Avalanche returned forward Rocco Grimaldi, recalled Friday and initially installed on a line with Matt Duchene, to San Antonio. That continued a lateweek game of musical chairs; Sam Henley and Gabriel Bourque also came up for only one game, playing against Columbus on Thursday, before going back down.
Without a recall of a forward from the Rampage, the Avalanche would go into this trip without any extra forwards, and that’s unlikely unless Gabe Landeskog — who briefly skated Saturday — not only goes on the trip but is quickly ready to play. He could come off the injured list at any time.
Regardless, the Avalanche will open the trip with a 5-5 road record.
“Right now, we’re just at a point where every guy has to look himself in the mirror and see what he can do better,” said veteran defenseman and alternate captain Francois Beauchemin. “No one in this locker room has played his best lately. By doing that, everyone has to regroup and come back to what he does best on the ice and keep things simple.”
Said veteran winger Jarome Iginla: “We’re obviously in a bit of a rut. Guys want to make a difference and we can’t string together three periods.”