The season for the Colorado Avalanche is over following their defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite their Round 1 series victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Avalanche failed to overcome the balanced attack that the Stars boast — and they certainly weren't aided by the notable personal problems of one of their top forwards.

To add insult to injury, former Avalanche first-round draft selection Matt Duchene scored the decisive series-winning goal in double overtime of Game 6 at Ball Arena, propelling the Stars to their second consecutive Western Conference Final.

Unfortunately for the Avalanche, they now face a challenging off-season filled with tough decisions. Who were the main contributors to Colorado's loss to the Stars? Check out our list below.

Val Nichushkin's personal problems proved to be a major distraction 

In a shocking turn of events, the Avalanche discovered that forward Val Nichushkin would be sidelined for the next six months, but not due to injury. He was suspended by the National Hockey League following a reported failed drug test and subsequently placed in Level 3 of the Player Assistance Program. Nichushkin will be eligible for reinstatement once his suspension, which extends into next season, is completed.

Nichushkin had been excelling for the Avalanche at the time of his suspension, tallying nine goals and one assist in eight games, after scoring 28 goals and 53 points during the regular season.

Nichushkin's recent absence from the Avalanche lineup during the playoffs isn't an isolated incident. Last season, during a matchup against the Seattle Kraken, he took a leave of absence after an incident involving an intoxicated woman in his hotel room, requiring EMS services. Moreover, he also missed time during the 2023-24 regular season due to his involvement with Level 2 of the Player Assistance Program.

Nichuskin's teammates were understandably put off by the latest development that resulted in his removal from the lineup at a critical time, as evidenced by defenseman Jack Johnson's clear frustration via Corey Masiak of The Denver Post.

“He made his decisions,” the visibly frustrated Johnson stated when asked about the situation. “That’s all I’m going to say on that. He made his decisions.”

“It can (deflate a team) but you know we’re all human. We’re all pros,” forward Jonathan Drouin added. “It’s that stuff … you don’t control it. You can’t really dwell on it, you can’t really think about it. When we heard the news we, kind of like everyone else, we were shocked. And obviously, it sucks but I know we had to move on and get ready for a game.”

If Nichushkin had managed to steer clear of the issue that led to yet another unfortunate absence from the lineup during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Avalanche's prospects for advancement would have brightened. His consistent offensive contributions were crucial, and his absence left a significant void in the lineup they struggled to adequately fill.

Alexandar Georgiev faltered in crunch time 

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during a double overtime period against the Dallas Stars in game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in his second season with the Avalanche after having been signed as a free agent from the New York Rangers in 2022, Alexandar Georgiev immediately began struggling upon the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Colorado's Round 1 matchup against the Winnipeg Jets. But the good news for the Russian goaltender is that he was able to get his game back in order and help his team advance.

However, his numbers began to falter once again against the Stars. He would finish the postseason with a goals against average of 2.85, barely better than the mark of 3.02 that he posted during the regular season. Simply put, he was too inconsistent for the Avalanche to realistically compete for another Stanley Cup title.

Special teams/poor play on home ice

The Avalanche certainly weren't aided by the fact that they failed to convert on eight power-play chances against the Stars in Games two through four. Meanwhile, their penalty kill failed to deliver when it mattered most, allowing five goals in 17 different Stars opportunities.

Even more surprising was the fact that the Avalanche repeatedly faltered away from the friendly confines of Ball Arena, dropping all three contests on home ice against the Stars despite having amassed the NHL's best home record during the regular season. As evidenced by the words of the retiring veteran forward Zach Parise, it's hard to win a playoff series when you don't win on home ice, via Tracey Myers of

“We were able to get a great win down (in Dallas) in Game 5. Wish we were able to get one of those first two home games, make a big difference,” forward Zach Parise said. “But unfortunately, it’s tough to come back from down 3-1.”