It seems like the Colorado Avalanche haven’t been playing games as frequently as fans and players are used to. In fact, the Avalanche are among a handful of teams that are tied for the fewest number of games played, which is to be expected, due to the fact that Colorado has had four days off between games four times already this year.
Of course, with last weekend’s Global Series games in Sweden, it makes sense that the NHL scheduling department would give the team time to adjust on either end of the trip. The amount of travel seems daunting, and readjusting to American time zones sounds like a difficult task both physically and mentally, but none of that bothers Avs forward Mikko Rantanen.
“I don’t think it’s hard [to adjust]. We haven’t played two games in more than a week. It’s different than the normal schedule, but now we just have to get on a roll and play well at home, like we did before we left.”
“It feels a little bit different when you go play in Sweden; you spend your whole week there. You see Stockholm; it’s a nice city. It was a lot of fun, but we have to refocus and concentrate on the next game.”
While it was kind of the NHL’s schedule-makers to give the Avalanche the four days off to recover, the upcoming set of games is demanding and seems a bit cruel.
The Avs will spend less than a week at home before heading out on the road again to play a back-to-back set. To make matters even more arduous, one of the two road games is against division foes and one of the NHL’s hottest teams; the Nashville Predators. However, Rantanen would rather have the back-to-back-on-the-road games than the four days off.
“I like to play. I think everybody likes to play. I don’t think anybody wants four days off. We have to practice — I don’t mind practice — but games are more fun. I will take the back-to-back road games.”
“We have to forget the trip now, it’s behind us. We have to refocus and go into the weekend — there’s two tough road games and one against Washington, they are a great team — it’s three hard games, but we have to get some points.”
Having lost three games in a row for the second time this season, the Avalanche are trending in the wrong direction, but the power play, on the other hand, is near the top of the league. Colorado has scored 13 power-play goals with a 20.6 percent success rate, eight of which have been in the last six games — and two have been from Rantanen.
“We’ve been more simple the last few games and we’ve been shooting more, put bodies to the net and just put the puck there,” Rantanen said. “That’s how you get some lucky bounces, too. We have to keep doing that. Shoot the puck, retrieve the puck and be hungry there.”
The days of long rest are behind the Avalanche, as they will play eight games in the upcoming 15 days. Aside from the bye week that’s scheduled for the second week of January, Colorado will have a four-day break only once more for the remainder of the year.
A steady, traditional NHL schedule is on the horizon and will allow the Avalanche more comfort and consistency. As Rantanen states, everybody likes to play games. Hopefully for the Colorado Avalanche, a more steady schedule will allow some of the positive trends to persist.