(Penalty) Killing Me Softly
Your Colorado Avalanche have a very good penalty kill. Let me repeat, your Colorado Avalanche have a very good penalty kill. On the heels of another perfect 6-6 on the PK against the Sharks the Avs have moved up to second in the league in penalty killing percentage at 85.2%. Beyond the percentage you will find that they rank 3rd in the NHL in Net Goal Differential (-19) while short handed and are 8th in short handed GF (5). I should add that this is not a case of the Avalanche not taking penalties and their PK’ers being more fresh either. The Avs rank 6th in the NHL in minor penalty minutes and 10th overall in PIM. Putting all these numbers together it appears as if the stellar percentage is not an outlier and could very easily be maintained throughout the year. Surely some additional power play goals are going to trickle in for the opponents eventually, but even with a little regression the Avs appear to have put some of their PK woes behind them.
So what has changed? I think the answer is two fold: first, your best penalty killer must be your goalie. Colorado netminders have stood tall in the net this year while on the penalty kill. Bernier and Varly have combined to post a .911 SHS% this year which is also good for 2nd across the NHL.
The second answer is to look at who is killing the penalties on your forward corps. The top 3 Avalanche forwards in TOI SH this year are: Blake Comeau, Carl Soderberg, and Matt Nieto. Beyond that are Gabriel Landeskog, JT Compher, and Gabriel Bourque. Early in the season it seems that Coach Bednar was using a pair of Landy and Compher as a 2nd PK unit and for the most part Comeau and Soderberg as their top pair. During the most recent stretch of games, Gabriel Bork and Matt Nieto have assumed that role of 2nd PK unit and that has really solidified the kill as a whole. Not only does this mean that your bottom 6 forwards are participating in a role generally required of them, but they are doing so successfully so that you don’t have to “waste” the immense talents of a player like Gabe Landeskog just to be successful on the PK.
Credit to: ESPN.com, NHL.com, and naturalstattrick.com for statistical information.
Avs Week In Review
- The tank (not that kind) just keeps rolling forward and destroying everything in it’s path. This week it was 3 up and 3 down for your Colorado Avalanche as they have turned a modest 5 game winning streak into their longest winning streak since 2006. The streak has now reached 8 games. Even more impressive than that: This team has not been losing for a single second of ice hockey in the last 22 days.
- Nathan MacKinnon, by mere human standards was only having a great week with 2G in 2 GP (both GWG), but superhuman Naydin was not satisfied by his pedestrian PPG game pace. He closed out this week with a 2G, 3PT game against the Sharks to earn First Star honors. Even when he slows down you know it’s not gonna be for long. The league should be on high alert when his skates hit the ice.
- Jonathan Bernier is the only Av who can rival what MacK has brought to the ice night in and night out during the current 8 game streak. His GAA has dropped from well above 3 all the way down to an optically pleasing 2.69 (get your heads out of the gutter), and his save percentage has risen from sub .900% all the way up to a very respectable .917%. With uncertainty surrounding #1 goalie Semyon Varlamov’s health Bernier has been huge between the pipes. Some are beginning to wonder if he has seized the opportunity to be the #1 man in Colorado.
- I want to give a little love to Matt Nieto. Most Avs fans spend a decent amount of time talking about The Soderberg line or how well Soderberg and Comeau are playing this year. Long Beach Native Matt Nieto is kind of the forgotten man on that line. But this week he stepped up to the tune of 3 points (2G and 1A). For me, it’s not just the points, but how impactful they were. He scored the opener against Anaheim, assisted on the 3rd goal of the 1st period last night (with some sweet, sweet sauce I must add) to give the Avs a 3-0 lead, and he scored the last goal of what became a very close affair vs. San Jose. Good on you, LBNMN.
- Standings Check: Full Standings are available here, but the Avs as of Friday, January 19 are back in the playoffs as the 8th seed. In 44 games the Avalanche has earned 53 points. Many have lamented the idea that an 8 game win streak only barely puts them in a playoff spot, but a slightly deeper dive reveals that if the Avs can take care of business with their games at hand on Dallas and St. Louis that they are more squarely in the playoff picture than they seem to be at a glance. That should be enough to keep the boys motivated and hungry.
A Penny for my Thoughts
Pending UFA and all around hockey phenom John Tavares is sure to demand a high end contract for any amount of years he’d like and at least an 8 digit yearly AAV. Not many teams would be able to afford that, but our Colorado Avalanche is one who may be able to meet those lofty demands.
To me, the question is: assuming he’d be open to signing here, should they? I’m not so sure the Avalanche would be wise to pursue this one. Would Tavares make them a better team? Absolutely. Would he make them a cup contender before that salary really comes back to bite them? Maybe. But, the foundation of this iteration of the Colorado Avalanche lies within the very young and currently very cheap nucleus they are building. We are currently in the most stable position this franchise has been in since the cap era began. The way to sustain success is to build from within, invest in your home grown talent and add around the margins. If signing Tavares means that we have to face the idea of struggling to finance your Rantanen’s, Girard’s, and Zadorov’s in the near future, is that even a net positive? The gamble the organization would be taking to accelerate their cup window, even on a player a talented as John Tavares, is too great for me.
Comments of the Week
He scored off his Whaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?!?!
faydout – Yesterday at 10:06 PM
Was that off his junk?
Mr_Twisty – Yesterday at 10:10 PM
Avs can score with sticks or dicks
earl06 – Yesterday at 10:08 PM
that was a junk goal
Americanario – Yesterday at 10:07 PM
Rants, you’re supposed to play with a puck, not a ball
NoNeedToYelle – Yesterday at 10:07 PM
That was a real..:):…dick move
lobstermagnet19 – Yesterday at 10:22 PM
Not to mention, he may have been ”enhanced” by watching Nathan MacKinnon in the first
Varly says “nyet”…but the Bern…he says:
Mr_Twisty – Yesterday at 11:16 PM
Now I have Seen Everything
Auggy74 – Yesterday at 11:27 PM
Holy rainbow-farting unicorns batman.
BR Merch Giveaway
Last week BR launched the option to purchase merchandise to promote the BR brand. This week is your first opportunity to win a bit of this fine merchandise for yourself. Please use the comment section below to enter your best Avalanche related haiku using the terms: Bednar, Avs, & streak. Submissions will be accepted for 3 days. The randomly selected entrant who meets these requirements will receive a BR Coffee Mug.
Tune of The Week
I can only imagine that Avs fans are with me here when I assume that this song adequately describes our current #mood. This season life’s been pretty good to us.