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Avalanche's core on watch after last-place start

Sergei Belski / USA TODAY Sports

An unexpected coaching change hasn't prevented the Colorado Avalanche from falling further downhill.

There was a sense that Patrick Roy's abrupt departure was a bit of a blessing in disguise for Joe Sakic in that the team president and general manager was able to hire a more forward-thinking head coach in Jared Bednar. However, the team has stumbled to a 9-11-1 record through 21 games, good for 19 points and a share of last place overall.

As a result, the focus now shifts back to a group of six core players, namely Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, and Semyon Varlamov.

Johnson, for one, acknowledges change could be afoot if things don't turn around soon, per Terry Frei of the Denver Post:

It doesn’t matter how many points you have or how much you’re playing, it’s the record that indicates how you’re playing. Clearly, the record is not good enough. … Nobody can look in the mirror and say we’re playing good enough because our record doesn’t indicate it. As a group of individuals who feels a lot of responsibility for the team, I think you go out and do your best every game and you realize there are consequences no matter what.

We could be a bunch of games over .500 and they still might see a reason to make a change. So that’s up to them upstairs and all we can do is go out and play hard every night and do our best to get this team back to winning. At the end of the day, it does fall on our shoulders until the job gets done, and so far it’s not good enough.

That core group is under contract until at least the end of 2018-19, with Johnson and MacKinnon signed through 2022-23.

With the coaching card having been forced upon Sakic, his next move could very well be shaking up the roster.

Duchene has been oft-mentioned in trade speculation, but is trying to focus on his game.

"I’m not making any decisions on this hockey team," he said. "I just go out and play every night."

Colorado's next opportunity to turn things around comes Thursday against Columbus.

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