Skip to content

Colorado’s defense could lead to an avalanche of goals against

Aug 19, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

Erik Johnson, Mike Brown AP

One thing the Avalanche weren’t very good at last season was preventing opponents from scoring goals. They were 27th in goals allowed which was a leading reason why they wound up in the NHL Draft lottery and picking first overall.

A big part of the blame for that fell on their defensemen. Bad news Avs fans: Not much has changed back there.

The two subtractions from last year’s team were Shane O’Brien and Greg Zanon. The latter was brought in to be a defensive stopper and failed to do much stopping at all. Meanwhile, O’Brien struggled to get into the lineup most of the season.

The only addition made to this year’s team was Cory Sarich who came over in a four-player swap with Calgary and he played rough third-pairing minutes on an equally defensively inept Flames team. He also wasn’t very good.

There are a couple of young guys who offer hope and will get thrown into the fire more this season.

Tyson Barrie is just 21-years-old but he led the team in average time on ice over his 32 games (21:35). Incredibly, he also led all defensemen in points with 13. His advanced numbers were strong which means he could (should?) see more responsibility on the blue line.

Likewise, Stefan Elliott, 22,  should get more time this season. In 18 games last season he had a goal and three assists and, like Barrie, put up respectable advanced numbers. The play of those two made it acceptable to part ways with Zanon and O’Brien.

The rest of the group with Hunwick, Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Ryan Wilson, and Andre Benoit all offer complementary parts but not an overly dominating game.

Johnson should be the best of the bunch but has never taken the reins as a true No. 1 defenseman. Hejda is their “defensive stopper” and Wilson has a steady all-around game. Benoit and Hunwick could wind up fighting for the sixth spot with Sarich.

Long story short, it’s a flawed bunch with a pair of hopeful youngsters and a third, Duncan Siemens, waiting down the road. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had better be ready for another busy season in goal.

Latest Posts
  1. Graham James reportedly facing new charge of sexual assault

    May 25, 2015, 4:41 PM EDT

    Graham James AP

    Reports out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

  2. In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’

    May 25, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    Antoine Vermette, Frederik Andersen AP

    “One bounce here or there, it’s a different story.”

  3. Leafs sign Carrick to one-year extension

    May 25, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    J.T. Brown; Sam Carrick J.T. Brown; Sam Carrick

    Made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 16 games.

  4. Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract

    May 25, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five Getty Images

    He’s eligible to sign an extension this summer.

  5. Swiss league ‘perfect training ground’ for Matthews, says coach Crawford

    May 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Marc Crawford Getty Images

    “Everyone involved with the ZSC Lions is so excited about seeing him play in Zurich.”

  6. Canucks have a puzzle to solve on the blue line

    May 25, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT

    Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

    This won’t quell the Kevin Bieksa trade speculation.

  7. Bolts ‘looking for a guy who plays my way,’ says prospect Erne

    May 25, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    Adam Erne Getty Images

    “A bigger guy, playing a power forward role.”

  8. Bolts’ Coburn missed final two periods due to illness

    May 25, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    Braydon Coburn Braydon Coburn

    He played just eight shifts in Sunday’s win.

  9. Video: Filppula, Stamkos score two big goals for Bolts

    May 24, 2015, 9:36 PM EDT

    filppulagetty Getty Images

    The Lightning are 7-0 when scoring the first goal in the playoffs.

  10. Blackhawks’ Bickell says wear-and-tear goes both ways

    May 24, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Three Getty Images

    Blocking shots can be a grind, too, after all.

Featured video

Babcock has his work cut out in Toronto
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. F. Andersen (1540)
  2. S. Crosby (1486)
  3. N. Horton (1424)
  4. M. Carle (1415)
  5. R. Nash (1380)