The Colorado Avalanche has not had many reasons to celebrate these past few seasons. The team won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001 but has not advanced past the first round in the postseason since 2008, and has failed to qualify for the playoffs in three of the past four years. But with Patrick Roy, in his first season as the team’s coach and vice president of hockey operations, that has a chance to change.
According to Sportsclubstats.com, as of Friday, the Avs have a 100 percent chance of making the playoffs. Offensively, they have a strong nucleus of scorers in Matt Duchane, P.A. Parenteu and Paul Stastny, who have powered the league’s sixth-best offense in goals scored per game (3.02) and 10th most efficient power-play unit (20 percent). Defensively they rank in middle of the pack with 2.59 goals against, helping them compile a 43-18-5 record.
However, while they are a lock to make the playoffs, there are enough red flags to make us think they will be a first-round flameout, starting with a lack of puck possession.
Ignoring special teams and lead-protecting situations, the Avs have had possession of the puck just 47.2 percent of the time. Only Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Buffalo are worse. Colorado also ranks 25th in the league in shots allowed per game (32.6), putting a ton of pressure on its goaltending.
In the salary cap era, just two teams have made the playoffs while surrendering as many or more shots per game as Colorado: the Boston Bruins (32.7 shots against per game) and the Phoenix Coyotes (32.6), both during the 2010-11 campaign. Phoenix was discharged in the first round by Detroit but Boston managed to ride Tim Thomas’s .940 save percentage to the franchise’s first championship since the early 1970s. The Avs have good goaltending, but not Vezina-caliber, record-shattering good.
In addition, no team has more wins in one-goal games than Colorado (23), and while you would think that makes them “battle-tested” for a playoff run, the opposite usually applies:
|Season||Team||Wins in one-goal games||Playoff result|
|2008-09||San Jose||26||Lost 1st|
|2007-08||New Jersey||27||Lost 1st|
|2006-07||New Jersey||32||Lost 2nd round|
Since the 2005-06 season, five of the eight teams leading the league in one-goal games have been bounced in the first round. There are two champions among the other three — Carolina in 2005-06 and Chicago in last season’s shortened campaign — but Colorado just doesn’t have the depth of either to make a deep playoff run.