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Poll: Are the Avs due for a downfall?

Aug 7, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

Nino Niederreiter, Semyon Varlamov AP

According to proponents of the so-called “advance statistics” that we continue to hear so much about this summer, the real Colorado Avalanche were exposed in the playoffs, when they lost in seven games to Minnesota.

All season long, according to the analytics folks, the numbers said the Avs were leaning too heavily on the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov, as well as a high shooting percentage that couldn’t possibly be sustained.

And after winning the first two games against the Wild, things did, in fact, seem to catch up to the surprise winners of the Central Division. In Games 3 and 4, the Avs scored just once on a measly 34 shots combined. In Games 6 and 7, Varlamov allowed eight goals on 56 shots combined, including the series clincher, in overtime, by Nino Niederreiter.

Not too long after losing to Minnesota, Colorado lost center Paul Stastny, one of their best possession players, to free agency. Which was a particularly tough pill to swallow, given they got nothing in return for the 28-year-old, and didn’t even have a postseason victory to show for rolling the dice and keeping him, sans long-term contract, for the playoffs.

There is, of course, an opposing side to the argument that the Avs are due for a downfall. (Or, in stats speak, for a regression.)

For starters, defenseman Tyson Barrie was taken out of the series by Matt Cooke in Game 3.  Wouldn’t a lot of teams struggle if they lost such a key player? Just a coincidence they went 2-0 with Barrie in the lineup and 1-4 in games he didn’t finish or didn’t play?

Also, the Avs’ core is still very young, with the potential to improve under the coaching of Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy. Yes, they lost Stastny. But they’ve still got Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly in the top six. All with valuable postseason experience now.

On top of that, they added veterans Jarome Iginla, Daniel Briere, and Brad Stuart to the mix this summer.

OK, time to vote:

  1. greej1938l - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Yes

    • polegojim - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      Ridiculous… Exposed??? How were they ‘exposed’?

      They lost in 7 to a good Wild team.

      • rsmaggiemae - Aug 7, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        It was great to see them fall to the Wild
        and the broadcasters in Canada say they wont even make the playoffs and Iginia wont help them much as he wont be able to keep up with McKinnon and Duchene
        As a Wild fan, its great and can hardly wait for opening nite when we play the Av’s
        in Mpls….
        I thought Mckinnon and Duchene and Stasny were thier best players not Barrie
        They are having enough trouble trying to get O Reilly back so I think ther is a lot of issues with these new team and that they wont make the playoffs but then time will tell
        Go Wild

      • crazyhorse2609 - Aug 11, 2014 at 7:03 AM

        hey rsmaggie, when did the wild move to Minneapolis? for someone who claims to know a lot about hockey and claims to watch something like 60 games a week, you sound uninformed.

  2. c9castine - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    no. not buying it. they have improved as a whole and while they didnt do much to improve the defense i think it will naturally get a bit better and a leadership of iginla, talbot, briere guys like that is something they didnt have last year or in talbots case for the whole year.

    • bsaures - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      How will their d naturally get better when their best guy hdja is in his mid to late 30s

      • c9castine - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        jan hejda is still good but id say erik johnson is their best defenseman and tyson barrie is maturing as well. brad stuart was added to the mix, andre benoit is a solid player. and their forward group as a whole is older and more responsible.

      • wannabebluesplayer - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        c9castine – I don’t believe Benoit is an Avs player anymore. I think he is actually on the East coast now, but not 100% on that. Barrie is a nice player and Johnson is probably their best defenseman, but he is not higher than a #2 on almost all NHL teams.

      • jernster21 - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        Benoit signed with buffalo.

      • c9castine - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        wannabebluesplayer thanks for correction. didnt think too deep into that one. i agree most teams johnson would be a good #2 but he hasnt been a part of many good teams yet either and he had a fine season last year. barrie is real young and has shown a lot so far. stuart if anything knows what not to do in the playoffs and what a bad locker room looks like. thats something. dont see that happening with guys like iginla and talbot in the locker room.

        point still stands

  3. wutangwild - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Will be interesting to see what happens. I don’t think they’ll win the division again, but who knows. I think it will come down to defense and especially Varly. Glad there’s a pic of Brodz and his 2 inch vertical jump, can’t wait for opening night!

  4. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Hawks are still the better team in that division. So I say maybe?

  5. govtminion - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Losing Barrie was huge for them- they really did play like a different team after losing him, and it’s hard to blame them. But… yeah, they kind of got away with winning games they really had no right to be winning, based on stats. Eventually one would think that would catch up to them, but it wasn’t until after Barrie went down that it seemed to happen.

    Can they do it again this year? Not likely- I’d bet against it at least. Will they still finish in the top eight and be a team no one wants to see in the playoffs? I’d bet on it.

  6. LampyB - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    They may regress a bit in reg season standings but the team will be tougher, better than last year and built to last. Veterans added, Mack will be even better, barrie even better, and iginla is icing on the cake.

    No way they regress to the point they dont make playoffs. They will go deeper this season.

  7. xaile94 - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    “According to proponents of the so-called ‘advance statistics’ that we continue to hear so much about this summer…”

    Holy pissballs…allow me…

    “According to statistics…”

  8. tdrusher225 - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    They could still use an upgrade on the back end and they’re young, offensively gifted players need to improve on playing in their own zone and without the puck. The offense and goaltending carried them last season and they may catch up with them this time around..

  9. stakex - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    One thing is quite important to remember about last years Avalanche… despite having a decent record, their possession stats were some of the worst in the league. They were ranked 27th in Fenwick for %, and 25th in Corsi for…. which is a really bad sign. They also ranked 3rd in the league in PDO, which essentially means they were one of the luckier teams.

    Those three stats are probably the best predicting stats there are in hockey, and I think they point to a Colorado team last year that got a lot more out of their season in terms of points than they should have. As such, barring a big turn around, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Avalanche come crashing back down next year…. especially is the tough Western conference.

    • guitarhunterdude - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      Agreed, for the most part. I think the Avs will always have a fairly high PDO, just because their top-six is so skilled and has the ability to score at a pretty ridiculous rate. That’s going to jack up their shooting percentage a bit, which means they don’t need to be a great possession team to win some games.

      If they want to make the playoffs, though, I think they’ll need to be better possession-wise than they were last year. I doubt Varlamov’s a Veznia candidate again.

  10. salvij - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Avs are going to be fine this year. For Stasny they got the money needed to bring in Iginla who performs well even when he is not in a contract year. There is a reason Stastny never wore the “C”.

    Funny how there is no mention of the absence of Matt Duchene contributing to being”exposed in the playoffs.

    • stakex - Aug 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Losing Duchene hurt, and might have helped them get past the first round. However that doesn’t change the fact that even with him healthy most still didn’t have high hopes for Colorado in the playoffs. Teams with awful possession numbers, while sometimes making the playoffs, don’t generally get far if they do.

      Consider their record against the Blackhawks during the season. They were 4-1, and on paper that looks great. However, they were outshot by an average of 39.8 to 23.4 in those five games. That’s certainly not “fine” despite the outcome because given enough time that kind of poor possession will come back to bite you in the butt. Its not just against Chicago either, I just used them as an example, as they were outshot and out possessed most of the season.

      • salvij - Aug 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Hawks v. Avs would have been fun to watch. Not getting to see that series was a big disappointment Let’s hope the team is healthy so we can find out how good they can be as comprised. I expect 100+ points and top 6 in the conference, which down from last year but also how the Kings finished last year. Good result for them.

      • avscup - Aug 7, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        Not having Duchene hurt for sure and so did not having John Mitchell. The Avs suffered a lack of 3rd and 4th line depth and Mitchell was a very good 3c.

        As for the record against Chicago, that was similar to their record against most teams. Outshot but post a win. There is no accounting for all the poor angles those shots came from.

        The Avs have to be better possession wise but way to much is made of the shot tallies. The bottom line is 112 points!

  11. alen111 - Aug 7, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    You can’t actually have “a downfall”. The downfall is what happened to cause the collapse, defeat, regression, setback, whatever. Often seen in constructions such as “their downfall was that…” You’re mixing up cause and effect.

    Heh, don’t get mad at me. I’ve been a Canucks fan since 1970, though I live in Germany now. Who else but a Canucks fan of 43 years would be reading hockey news at the beginning of August.

  12. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    There is a pretty simple stat that casts doubt on their being able to go far into the playoffs without 1st improving their D. I looked at the Goals Against Average for the SC contenders the past 5 seasons. Keep in mind the Aves were 12’s last year, and is Varly only had a “pretty good” year, they would have ben a lot lower.

    2014 Kings 1st, Rangers 3rd
    2013 Hawks 1, Bruins 3
    2012 Kings 2, NJ 9th
    2011 Canucks 1, Kings 3
    2010 Hawks 5th, Flyers 15th.

    So, while it’s possible to make it to the finals with an average defense, the odds are against it.

  13. flyboystransport - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Inexperienced is why they lost. Hence the pick ups of briere and iginla

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      Perhaps it was part of the reason. And I know the final Wild goal and possibly the last 3 in game 7 were due to defensive breakdowns.

  14. purpleguy - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Remember when reference is made to the loss of Avs players to injury in the playoffs that the Wild had injuries as well and were down to their 4th string goalie.

  15. xx1111 - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    They will keep on getting better.. They may have exceeded expectations last year.. But the core is so young 18-23 years old and they will keep improving and building upon last year. Our defense, well we didnt add anybody name worthy but Stuart and some other fill ins.. But that core is pretty young and only going to improve

    Eric Johnson – 26
    Nick Holden – 27
    Tyson Barrie – 23

    those the horses on defense.. Pretty much EJ was the only name most heard of before last year if you didnt know the Avs team well.

    Still have Bigras/Siemens that could make the jump up.

    This coming year will be Barrie’s and Holden’s 2nd full season. So for “rookies” they played very well.

    Mackinnon playing his natural center will shine…

  16. mackattack29 - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I hope people go back to underrating the Avs. Haha it’s how we were so amazing last year. And that series proved nothing. It could’ve gone absolutely either way. We made the wild look like little boys in games 1 and 2. They dominated games 3 and 4. Then the rest of the series was completely even. And that was without Varly playing at the Veins

  17. jdub2119 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    I don’t dismiss analytics out of hand, but I’m already tired of hearing about it. There is no denying that the Oakland athletics remained competitive because of analytics. But hockey isn’t baseball. It’s too fast and fluid to be impacted the way baseball was. And the Avs are going to be just fine, if not better. again they may be older but he brings toughness and leadership that Paul Stastny you will never bring. Daniel Briere instantly helps improve the P.K. and provides the third line with a shutdown forward and depth with some scoring,
    though he’s lost a lot in that area. Finally, Stuart brings some much-needed toughness to the blue line. And when the Avs trade that petulant baby O’Reilly, they’ll get a top six winger and a quality defenseman and probably a draft pick in return. The Avs are going to be contenders for, at least, the next decade.

  18. jdub2119 - Aug 8, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Stupid phone. I meant Jarome Iginla May be etc

  19. crazyhorse2609 - Aug 11, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    They have the potential, but they need to shore up the defense and I really don’t think varmalov is the answer in goal. They should be a fun offensive team to watch. That is a beautiful photo, by the way.

  20. numba1wiscosportsfan - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    Man. I still love going back and watching Nino’s GWG on youtube. “*CLANK* ……. GOOOOOOOOOALLLL!”
    Such a great moment, you guys.

    • numba1wiscosportsfan - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      And yes, the Avs will regress after overachieving last year. Patrick Roy is the hockey equivalent of Mike Tice. Too much of an emotional roller coaster. Just my 4 cents.

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