Breaking Down: Avs/Leafs, Game #23

The Avs met Tyson Barrie and Aleander Kerfoot for the first time since the big trade over the summer and it did not go well. The Leafs were playing their second game since being released from Mike Babcock’s atavistic coaching style and for at least a 10 minute stretch in the 1st period looked unbeatable. Despite that the Avs got close but not close enough late in the game and took a 5-3 loss.

Projectile Lineup

Jayson Megna was sent back to the Eagles before the game and AJ Greer reassigned (without dressing for a game) afterwards. Tyson Jost returned after a short absence due to UBI.

Kadri – Mack – Donskoi
Burky – Compher – Nieto
Nichushkin – Bellemare – Tynan
Jost – Kamenev – O’Connor

Sam – EJ
Z – Makar
Cole – Graves


Scratch: Barbs, Greer
Injured: Mikko, Landy, Willie (all LBI), Calvert (UBI)

Team Stats

The Avs got a goal from Nate on the first shift, usually a good sign, and battled well for the first 10 minutes. Then trouble began. The Leafs started skating and putting pressure on the Avs D like everyone else has figured out and started to dominate. Two quick goals then a dumb penalty which produced a PPG and another which made it 4-1 before the 1st period had expired. Game was over at that point. The second period went fairly well, I’m not sure if it was score effects or some line changes. Doesn’t really matter. A few powerful shifts in the 3rd got Colorado back within 1 but a regrettable penalty soon after killed all the momentum. Toronto put a buzzer beater in to finish off the game.

Tale of the tape at 5v5 was +55/-49 but a lot of that is score effects in the 3rd. Shots on goal in all situations were 37-28 Colorado. Telling stat of the night was the +0.32/-0.95 for expected goals in the 1st period. That’s getting crushed. Game pace at 5v5 was an enthusiastic 135 per hour. Normally that’s a major positive for the Avs but not last night.

The Avs lone goal in P2 was on the power play which made them 1/3. The PK is in deep trouble now, stopping 1 of 2 chances and down to 21st in the league.


Top 6 forwards at 5v5 were Mack, Donskoi, Kadri, Nieto, Burky and Compher. In all situations it was Mack (25), Donskoi (23+), Kadri (23+), Burky (19+), Compher (18+) then Nieto (15+). Tynan was low man at 7:28.

The defensive regime went Sam, Makar, EJ then big gaps to Z, Cole and Graves. Overall it was Makar (28), Sam (24+), EJ (19+), Z (15), Cole (13) and Graves (12).


– I’d love to know what Coach Bednar’s fascination with playing Kadri at wing is. He put him with MacKinnon for some of the 3rd in Minnesota and it didn’t work. He started him there for this game and it was awful. At times he and Burakovsky switched and suddenly things worked, on both the 1st and 2nd lines but for some reason it got switched back and was awful again. We don’t need to keep trying this, Coach. It hasn’t worked in the past, it didn’t work last night and it won’t work in the future. STOP IT.

Along with that we once again had very top-heavy usage with poor results. Rolling 2 lines then spot-shifting the rest of the forwards predictably leads to zero chemistry and consistency. I have no idea what keeps telling him to do this but statistically and by the eye test it’s losing them games. Despite all the callups in the bottom 6 they’ve been fairly effective, learn to trust them so you don’t burn out everyone else by the 3rd period.

– The PK continues it’s slide. Once one of the better units in the league earlier in the season it’s falling rapidly, just like last year. Let’s look at the good and bad:

SOG’s against per hour – 51.2, 10th in NHL
Expected goals against per hour – 6.14, 14th in NHL
Unblocked shots against per hour – 70.3, 15th in NHL

Shot attempts against per hour – 100.9, 23rd in NHL
Goals against per hour – 9.08, 24th in NHL
PK save percentage – .822, 29th in NHL

The Avs blocked shot rate is one of the highest in the league. They block a shot just under every 2 minutes on the PK. During an average 2-minute 5-on-4 PK they will allow 3.36 shot attempts, 1.02 will be blocked, 0.64 will miss the net and 1.7 will hit the net. As a percentage that’s not a lot of shots on goal compared to the rest of the league. So what are they doing that craters the goalie’s save percentage?

When Graves is on the ice (~½ the time) a lot of shots get blocked (40.21 per hour), although not by him, but not many unblocked shots go in the net (9.3%).

When EJ is on the ice (~¾ of the time) he blocks a large percentage of the shots that do get blocked (50%) and a fair amount of unblocked shots go in the net (12.4%)

When Cole is on the ice (~1/3 of the time) he blocks a fair amount of the shots that get blocked (42.1%) and a lot of the unblocked shots go in the net (17.4%).

When EJ & Graves are out there together there are a lot of shot attempts (125.7 per hour) but a lot are blocked (about a third) and better yet very few unblocked shots go in the net (8.2%)

When EJ & Cole are out there together there are an average number of shot attempts (99.67 per hour) but only a small percentage are blocked (~ one sixth) and the unblocked shots that do get through go in fairly frequently (17.9%).

When Graves & Cole are together there are relatively few shot attempts (81.4 per hour), a freaking ton are blocked (56%) and the ones that do not get blocked go in the net 25% of the time.

Summing this mess up:
– Graves suppresses goals but not shot attempts
– Cole suppresses shot attempts but not goals
– Blocked shots are beneficial when Graves is on the ice but not when Cole is. This kind of hints that the way Cole blocks shots or how he influences play is not a good thing and the eye test backs that up.
– EJ plays the most minutes by a lot so he reflects the averages too much to parse out. The fact that his numbers differ so much depending on partner indicate that he’s not a controlling factor.

I don’t envy Nolan Pratt in this situation. The way Cole kills penalties isn’t working great but he doesn’t PK as much as you would think. What the numbers are saying is that high-event is fine and seems to help the goalies out. Guys like Girard, Makar and perhaps even Rosen and Timmins might be a boon to the PK. Just like the power play disaster, the more static the Avs play the more they seem to fail. They thrive on a little chaos offensively so it stands that some defensively would work too.

 – Last but not least, shoutout to Val Nichushkin for his first goal in an Avs uniform. It’s been a long time but he’s worked hard this year, glad to see him finally get one.

Burgundy Narrative Metric

– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) sort of maybe
Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) a little of each but score effected
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) I didn’t hate it
The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) the Leafs sure did
Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (-) Grubi got shelled. Probably not his best night but it wasn’t all on him. Frank looked good in relief.
Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Yeah, some pretty bizarre calls here. I guess Kerfoot’s penalty was result based, which is idiotic. I like laissez faire management so it wasn’t all bad.

Total: -1¾

Next up

Some rest then a rematch with Edmonton on Thanksgiving Eve.

Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals


Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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