DENVER (CBS4) – No one really expected the Colorado Avalanche would duplicate the 112 points they had last season, but at the same time no one really expected the Avs would go from first to worst in the Central Division.
The 2014-15 Avalanche were plagued by a slow start and injuries, and despite a valiant effort to get back in the playoff picture, ultimately came up short.
“We dug ourselves a pretty good hole at the start of the year,” forward Alex Tanguay said.
“If you are not ready when that puck drops at the beginning of season it is hard to turn it on midway,” said captain Gabe Landeskog.
“The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup but first you have to get to the playoffs first,” added forward Jarome Iginla.
Getting back to the playoffs seemed like a given after winning the division last year, with the focus this year on advancing past the first round. So after taking a step back this year, what’s the focus for General Manager Joe Sakic this offseason?
“We want to build a team for a playoff run and that’s still our goal,” Sakic said this weekend. “We are disappointed we are not in the playoffs, but also we look it is a process and for our core guys we believe they have learned a lot.”
Learning from losing, not something teams want to do, but a common theme as this season comes to a close.
“We learned a lot and will be better for it going forward,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned and they have to carry over to next year,” said forward Ryan O’Reilly.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward,” added Landeskog.
But why the step back? How did basically the same group of guys that won 52 games last year, win just nine games in the first two months?
“Out of training camp the guys weren’t quite ready or able to anticipate what they were going to deal with and the expectations this year after last year’s run,” Sakic said. “Last year there were not a lot of expectations and we never really faced adversity. It was smooth sailing from the get go.”
Not so this year. But with the way the Avs played down the stretch, don’t expect any big overhaul from Sakic this summer.
“We have decisions we have to make on some guys and we do have some cap space next year,” Sakic said, but added the priority is re-signing core guys like O’Reilly, Barrie and Erik Johnson either this year or next.
As for a time table for being a cup contender, Sakic wouldn’t say, but says they are headed in the right direction.
“We are still building towards that goal,” Sakic said. “Patrick (Roy) and I came here to win a Stanley Cup, hopefully sooner than later. We are confident with the group we have. Do we have to add pieces? Absolutely and we are going to try and do that.”