It’s time to stop projecting into the future for the Colorado Avalanche. The philosophy of looking two or three years down the road has to end. If Colorado’s young, experienced core can’t claw its way into the playoffs, it’s time for Joe Sakic to construct a core that can.

The Avalanche have been trying to answer the same questions for the last three years. The problem isn’t the answer they’ve received; it’s that they haven’t received any answers.

Can Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog take the next step and become superstars?

Can Semyon Varlamov replicate his 2013-14 season?

When is the defensive unit finally going to pull its weight?

The number of times those questions have been asked is becoming absurd. If this isn’t the year, there isn’t going to be one. As one analyst recently said on a nationally televised Avalanche game, “I keep waiting for the Avalanche to be good and maybe they just aren’t.”

Since making a miraculous run to a division title three years ago, the Colorado Avalanche have been mind-numbing across the board. They’ve posted a 77-62-16 record over that stretch. They didn’t have a single player score 30 goals or total 60 points last season. Duchene will likely be the only player to accomplish either of those feats this season.

The team finished with a negative goal differential last season and will likely do it again this season. Goaltending has been streaky at best, downright awful at worst. And last year the team had a minus-70 plus/minus rating; this season’s rating is on track to be worse.

It’s becoming clear that the 2013-14 season was an aberration. This team is clearly trending in the wrong direction. The real question fans and analysts need to be asking is when will the players and coaches stop getting the benefit of doubt?

Head coach Patrick Roy might not be on the hot seat, but is there a reason why? Sure, three years ago Roy pushed all of the right buttons. There wasn’t a lineup he threw on the ice that didn’t succeed or a timeout he called that failed to motivate.

People were talking about how St. Patrick was reinventing the game by pulling his goalie with two minutes remaining in a game. All that chatter is gone. Roy hasn’t revolutionized the game; it appears has tactics only worked because the rest of the league hadn’t seen them before. Now, everyone knows what’s coming and they’re ready for it.

Landeskog’s point production has continued to decrease, as has his impact on the game night in and night out. Duchene’s offensive output has remained stuck in third gear. As for the defensemen, outside of Erik Johnson, that position has been a black hole.

This isn’t a complete disregard for the parts compiled by Sakic and Company. The truth is, they have some nice, young players with plenty of experience. But, you can’t deny that the sum of those pieces isn’t working, because it just isn’t. This team, as constructed, isn’t getting it done on the ice. Colorado’s offense is stagnant, the defense is stagnant, the coaching philosophy is stagnant and it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore that.

Thursday’s game is a crucial one for Roy and Company. They are one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the final playoff spot, having played one less game. A win would thrust this team into a position where they’d control their own destiny and hopefully out of the rut they are stuck in.

The time is now for the Colorado Avalanche. If they can step up and seize the day, this fan base might finally be seeing the franchise turn the corner. If they can’t, Joe Sakic needs to think long and hard about moving in a different direction this offseason. Expecting the same thing for the same players for a fourth straight year would be the definition of insanity.