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Disastrous penalty kill dooms Colorado Avalanche on road trip

Ryan O'Reilly crashes into net, will the Avs season crash in his absence?
Ryan O'Reilly crashes into net, will the Avs season crash in his absence?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Monday night saw the Colorado Avalanche lose their second straight game. The team allowed four goals against the Edmonton Oilers. All four of these goals were scored on the powerplay.

The inability to kill penalties is killing the team’s chances to win games. In a shortened season, every point is that much more crucial; points that the team’s inadequacy to get the job done shorthanded is costing them.

During this two-game losing streak, seven of the eight goals allowed have been so when the team was down a man. The other came 11 seconds after they returned to full strength, before they ever cleared the puck out of their defensive zone.

The problem could be a lack of discipline. The problem could be a lack of concentration. Or the problem could be the fact that the team is currently without its’ two best penalty killers.

Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly were the top two forwards in terms of shorthanded ice time last season. Without either, the unit will understandably suffer.

Landeskog missed last night’s contest with head and leg injuries suffered in the first period of Saturday’s contest against San Jose. There is no timetable for his return.

While injuries are beyond a team’s control, unsigned free agents are not. Such is the case with center Ryan O’Reilly. Not only is he counted on defensively, but also for key faceoffs. Unsigned in the months prior to the lockout, the stalemate between the young forward still shows no sign of ending.

While he was injured playing in Russia, the foot injury was described as minor. Still, his agent Mark Guy said there is no progress to report with the negotiations. The perplexing predicament is believed to be over money, and as usual, the Avalanche brass has conducted their business behind a veil of secrecy.

With P.K. Subban signing yesterday with Montreal, O’Reilly is the last remaining of the restricted free agent holdouts. The team has plenty of salary cap space; and while they certainly do not want to overpay, more diligence would surely be appreciated by their fanbase.

In truth, the more the team struggles, the more leverage O’Reilly gains in negotiations. Until O’Reilly is signed, the Avalanche will remain shorthanded, even at even-strength.

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