Strike 2: For the Colorado Avalanche, good is not good enough. The only thing that’s acceptable is great.

Losing in the second round of the NHL playoffs is not great, even after an excellent regular season. Now the Avs need to regroup and figure out how to jump into the express lane that leads back to greatness.

It’s got to start very near the top. Head coach Jared Bednar should be safe, and superstars Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and most of the nucleus of the Stanley Cup champs from two seasons ago should be secure as well. But the Avs are still lacking, especially in the leadership department. A locker room that was left reeling by the suspension of Valeri Nichushkin on the eve of a crucial playoff game needed the “C” at that moment, and it wasn’t there.

The Avs need a new Captain. It should be obvious by now it won’t be Gabe Landeskog.

Avs fans need to quit hanging on every word coming out of morning skate about “Gabe’s skating!” The knee injury and resulting cartilage transplant surgery he underwent a year ago isn’t the kind that you come back from and resume participating in a violent, collision sport. No player has ever come back from this surgery and played NHL hockey again. It’s great Gabe’s able to move around and skate again. But that’s his ceiling now. Coaching is likely in his immediate future because as a player, in baseball terms, he’s gone and he ain’t coming back.

Filling that leadership void could also help fill the on-ice void left by the absence of Nichushkin, the powerful winger who’s days in a Colorado sweater are now likely over for good as well after he was suspended for six months by the NHL for a second time for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

How does Colorado replace both these guys who last suited up together for the Avs cup clinching win in 2022?

It’s no secret that the Avs have moved away from the draft and develop plan that landed them players like MacKinnon and Makar, and shifted more to a quick fix strategy via the free agent and trade markets. That being the case, and the need for a key addition(s) being very evident, should we expect Joe Sakic and Company to be looking to take a big swing sometime soon?

What exactly would that kind of big swing look like?

In the old days, former Avs general manager Pierre Lacroix would take big swings that would result in Colorado landing Hall of Famers like Patrick Roy, Rob Blake and Ray Bourque via big deadline deals. But that was in the pre-salary cap era. Is there anything Sakic and GM Chris MacFarland can do now to net any sort of similar result?

What standout player(s) out there could potentially replace the leadership of Landeskog and the skill of Nichushkin?

Could Colorado make any sort of play for Sidney Crosby? It’s likely the Pittsburgh star re-signs with the Penguins before free agency starts this summer, but could Colorado make Pittsburgh an offer they can’t refuse? What about a star like Nicklas Backstrom from Washington? Or Taylor Hall from lowly Chicago? Stars that are near the end of their current contracts with non-contenders should be trade targets for the Avs.

The farm system isn’t deep anymore, given how much has already been sacrificed in previous trades. But that’s why the front office guys get paid the big bucks. It’s time to make some magic.

Because while good is good, great is the expectation.