Adrian Dater of the Denver Post isn't waiting for the Colorado Avalanche to conclude their dismal season before issuing his postmortem.
The Avs, who visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday before hosting the Minnesota Wild in Saturday's season finale, currently sit at the bottom of the 15-team Western Conference, in part because of once-proud club's terrible 3-14-4 road record. Much of that has to do with their league-worst penalty killing away from home. Losing Jay McClement to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer certainly didn't help, writes Dater:
McClement, the Avs' lead penalty-killing forward in 2011-12, helped them to the NHL's 12th-best penalty-killing performance (83 percent). McClement was let go as an unrestricted free agent last summer and quickly signed with the Maple Leafs. Toronto's penalty-killing performance, led by lead PK forward McClement this season: 87.2 percent, ranking third-best in the NHL.
Is it that simple? Probably not, but it has to be a factor. The Avs have always seemed to lack confidence on the road when things get tough.