When the fans start chanting “We want O’Reilly!” at Pepsi Center, things aren’t going the way of the home team. Such is the situation that the Colorado Avalanche find themselves in.
After dropping a 3-2 contest at home to the Dallas Stars and then being shutout 3-0 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, fans in Denver have had little to cheer about lately. Once promising at home – having gone 1-4 on the first roadie of the season – the Avalanche have very little going right at the moment.
They’ve lost some of their best, most-devoted talent to injury. Their goalie is getting shellshocked by the miserable defense being played in front of him. There is no end in sight to the O’Reilly contract debacle. Their leading goal scorer and top center have nobody to work with.
Help is not on the way.
The burgundy and white have been shut out three times this season and, despite hammering home some high-scoring contests against Calgary and Columbus, the Avalanche cannot seem to find the back of the net.
“It’s painful right now. Same story every night. We’re bringing it five-on-five and playing well five-on-five, but we can’t seem to find a win in those games. It’s the same story,” said 22-year-old center Matt Duchene. “We’ve got to figure out a way to score. It’s the bottom line. We’ve been shutout three times in 10 games, it’s unacceptable. That’s almost 50 percent of the games we’re getting shutout in. It’s a joke.”
For Duchene, the time for excuses and blaming bad bounces is over. Accountability is the name of the game and everyone on the team, whether they like it or not, needs to get it together.
“From top to bottom, doesn’t matter who it is, a forward or d-man, we can’t get the shots blocked and then we’ve got to be hungry around the net. Every now and then, you got to try and make a play or (get) inside. It’s painful right now,” said Duchene. “We’re playing pretty good hockey but, at the end of the night, we’re getting shutout 3-0 against a team that, on paper, it doesn’t look like we should be getting beat 3-0, but we are. We’ve got to figure it out. We’re not getting shots through. We’re not fighting for position in front of the net. It’s unacceptable.”
As the Avalanche flirt with disaster and a below .500 record, at what point does the accountability trickle up to those pulling the strings? The absence of O’Reilly this far into the season almost certainly spells the end of his time in an Avalanche sweater. Until Colorado gets the right asking price for a trade, he won’t see a shred of ice time. And how much longer does head coach Joe Sacco have if his team continues down this road of self-destruction?
For once, someone from this organization isn’t painting a rosy picture; Duchene is speaking the truth. If things don’t turnaround here in Denver and quick, the Avalanche will soon find themselves on the outside of the postseason and looking in. Again.
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