Avalanche looking to turn heat up on home ice
Despite the furor during and after the Avalanche’s embarrassing 10-1 blowout loss at Montreal on Saturday, the fact is that Colorado eventually went 2-2 on the just-concluded trip and is 7-7-0 on the road this season.
It would be wrong to make too much of 14 points in 14 road games, since going into Tuesday’s games, 16 of the 30 NHL teams had at least a point per road game and winning on the road isn’t as difficult as it is in the NBA, for example. Also, that’s not “.500,” in the sense that three-point (overtime and shootout) games lead to a true NHL average of about 1.1 points per team per game.
But what it does mean is that the Avalanche has been decent on the road — while on many nights leaving the Pepsi Center in need of fumigation.
Colorado takes a 4-8-1 home record, including 0-4-1 in its most recent homestand, into Wednesday night’s home game against the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have won nine in a row, and Colorado will be without goalie Semyon Varlamov, who came out of his 51-save performance
against Toronto on Sunday with a groin muscle issue. Calvin Pickard will get the start in net, and Spencer Martin was recalled from San Antonio to back him up.
Regardless of who has been in goal, this has become the dreaded home-ice disadvantage.
“I don’t know why our road record’s so much better,” Matt Duchene said Tuesday. “That’s got to change a little bit, obviously. We have to be a lot better. But we’ve had some bad games on the road too, games where we haven’t shown up. When we lose, we’re doing the same things, and it’s not a home versus road thing. When we win, we’re doing the same things. It’s not a home versus road thing there, either. It’s about playing good hockey, no matter what building we’re in.
“At home, yeah, it should be a place where other teams don’t want to play. There is such a thing as home-ice advantage. We haven’t really found it yet this year.”
Duchene’s stunning home-road scoring disparity is the kicker to all of this. He again is the Avs’ leading goal scorer, with 10 in the 23 games he has played in, sandwiched around missing four games with concussion symptoms. And a grand total of zero of those goals have come at home. There are no plans to require him to stay in a downtown hotel the night before home games. Not yet, anyway.
“I’m not playing any different, I don’t think,” Duchene said. “I feel I’m playing the same at home versus road, so you just have to stick with it. I’ve had some close calls at home. It’s going to go eventually. It’s just a matter of time.”
Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog missed the 0-4-1 homestand with a lower body injury. He returned to the lineup for the loss in Montreal and the 3-1 win at Toronto the next night.
“We have to stop the bleeding at home,” Landeskog said. “We have to find ways to scrape up some points at home. It hasn’t been good enough so far, and it’s not going to be good enough if we keep this going. I think we showed a lot of urgency in Toronto and a lot of character from our whole group. That’s something we need at home-ice too. We need that punch-first mentality. … Come out, get a little (ticked) off and take control of the game.
“You watch some of the games, especially when I was hurt, and it’s almost like we’re waiting for the game to start instead of taking charge of it. If we get a power play in the first period, or the first 10 minutes, we have to create momentum and a buzz off of that.”
Nathan MacKinnon agreed on the slow starts.
“I think our starts are getting the building quiet,” he said. “It’s kind of deflating for us.”