In honor of Pi Day day and the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, today's edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly covers both the pie, green beer and the stinkier corn beef and cabbage moments from the past week with the Avalanche.
THE GOOD – Green beer AND pie – what could go wrong?
1. The Colorado Avalanche actually won two games this past week. They went .500 and – surprise, surprise – they broke double digits for home wins and now own a better home record than road record. Best of all, the team showed glimpses of the play everyone was hoping for at the season's start. It's almost like finding a four leaf clover. Or is that a shamrock?
2. Newly acquired wing Sven Andrighetto earned three points in four games with a goal and two assists. He has brought some speed and scrappy play, proving to be a good addition to the team. Is he imperfect? Yes. But his on-ice attitude offsets any shortcoming. Kind of like how ice cream makes even an average pie good.
3. Relative newcomers Mark Barberio, Sven Andrighetto, and Matt Nieto look better than half the team. Can the Avalanche keep them? They at least look like they care. What is an appropriate nickname? The ‘O’ boys? My kids call them the Spaghetti-O’s because they are a good addition without being the whole meal.
If the idea is effort, J. T. Compher certainly belongs in the mix. Since all four are gunning for more playing time, maybe they should be called the Young Guns. And how concerned should one be that two were waiver wire pickups, one was traded away by a team eyeing a playoff push, and the other spent the season hustling in the AHL? Hmmm…Maybe they are really leprechauns to lead the team to the pot o’ gold. Or just another rainbow to chase.
4. Calvin Pickard deserves some good pie AND all the beer he can drink – wait, no the Avalanche need him, make that SOME beer – for his improved play. In the past four games, he saved 107 of 115 shots, for a very impressive .930 save percent, bringing up his season average to a very respectable .910. As the Irish would say – he is sucking diesel!
5. Forward Nathan MacKinnon broke through his scoring drought to score two goals this past week and leads the team in points with 44. He also managed 15 shots over those four games, which may have helped. Perhaps he should celebrate breaking his drought with a few draughts of some good Irish ale. Or share his rabbit’s foot with Matt Duchene, who could certainly use a lucky charm. Cue the rim shot.
6. Green eggs and ham for defenseman Tyson Barrie seems to be findin’ himself a wee bit over the past few weeks. He had a three-point game (one goal and two assists) against the Carolina Hurricanes and finished the week with four points. Maybe serve him up some good corned beef and cabbage, too.
7. Blake Comeau must have not liked the video last week as he appeared to pull himself up by his bootstraps, or, in this case, his laces, and earned three assists in the past four games. Top ‘o the morning to you, sir and welcome back! May the sun ne’er go down on you…again.
8. The Avalanche will be playing the Detroit Red Wings twice this week. Since they are in the bottom of their division, the games should prove entertaining, and definitely worthy of a good slog of Guinness, or green beer, or maybe even pie in an opposing fans face. Sorry, some rivalries never die.
THE BAD – the soggy cabbage
1. Is Altitude admitting they have a poor product covering the Avalanche when they more time promoting their charity auction and other sports during the games? If people are dedicated enough to actually watch the team this late in a horrendous season, what marketing guru thinks they are going to be interested in hearing about other sports during their hockey? One has to be a puckhead to continue to watch Colorado struggle at this point. Or maybe have nipped a bit of the Irish.
2. The Avalanche own the second worst power play percentage – 13.3% - in the league. However, things aren’t all bad in the land of the burgundy and blue. The team with the worst success on power plays? The Detroit Red Wings, who score an (cough) – impressive – (cough) 12.7% of the time. Let the rivalry continue! And may the Guinness flow for all who dare to watch.
3. Unsurprisingly, Colorado currently is outscored by 1.32 goals per game, the worst in the league. But, hey, four teams have actually allowed more shots for the season so, there’s that. Maybe if they were threatened with soggy cabbage when they don’t score?
THE UGLY – bad math, very bad math, without calculators even
1. The Avalanche managed to only get 16 shots TOTAL against Ottawa, with only six combined shots in the second and third period. Against the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado managed only 11 shots for the first and second period COMBINED. For those math challenged readers out there, that is a horrifying 17 shots over four periods. That’s the kind of math that makes one’s head hurt. Maybe pie will help.
2. The truly ugly, and not surprising, corollary regards the Avalanche owning the worst shooting percentage in the NHL at 6.95%. 0f their 1,884 shots this season, they resulted in a meager 131 goals. The average for a current NHL team is 9.1%.
The silver lining? With the moves throughout the season, the players currently on Colorado’s roster actually own a 8.98% average. That’s an interesting development. Maybe they can have some pie after all. But no ice cream!
3. Only two players from the 2010 and the 2011 Colorado Avalanche draft classes have become NHL staples – Calvin Pickard, 2010 second round pick (49th overall) and Gabriel Landeskog, the 2011 first rounder, selected second overall. When people bemoan the lack of depth in the organization and why the team signed expensive over-aged free agents, here’s a key piece to the answer.
The drafts from the last four year’s look promising, but players take time to develop and many were only 17 when selected (they need to be 18 by September 15 to qualify for the draft). So maybe if everyone starts reciting all the numeric calculations of pi, the team will have accumulated more depth by the time people gives up in frustration.
THOUGHTS TO PONDER
1. Speculation continues to fly around how the Avalanche will improve their defense. Yet, their defensive numbers are not as woefully out of the NHL pack as their anemic offense. Colorado ranks dead last in average goals scored per game, earning an embarrassing average of 1.93 tallies per tilt. In the past 20 years, only two franchises earned a lower goals per game average, the 1997-1998 Tampa Bay Lightning, and the dismal Buffalo Sabres of 2013-2014 (1.83) and 2014-2015 (1.87).
As for total goals scored in the past 20 years, recognizing there are still 14 games to play, currently the Avalanche rest in the middle of the lockout season teams for goals scored with 131 and last among all non-lockout teams. The only regular season teams near them are this year’s New Jersey Devils and the 2013-2014 Buffalo Sabres, both with 150 goals. In fact, that same Sabres team is the only NHL franchise in the last eight years to have suffered more shutout losses than the current Avalanche record of 12 (the Sabres managed to accrue 14 shutouts). But, hey, there are 14 games left so there’s still time to pass the mighty 2013-2014 Sabres. Ouch, that hurt. Even worse than the hangover after St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
While Colorado has allowed a dismal 3.25 goals against per game, this year’s team isn’t even the worst Avalanche team for scores allowed, as the 2010-2011 team allowed 3.50 tallies per game. In fact, there have been 58 NHL teams in the past 20 years allowing more goals per game than Colorado. So while having the Avalanche’s defenseman scoring on their own netminder isn’t helping the team, it’s not as historically damaging as the lack of scoring as a whole. Maybe the team could force players who scored on their own goalie to sing Irish drinking songs on the post-game show as a deterrent. If nothing else, it might assuage those who witnessed the egregious play.
2. For those already considering draft prospects, it might be worth mentioning more undrafted players make it to the NHL than third round picks. While nearly 50% of NHL players each year come from the first and second round of the draft, more undrafted players consistently make the NHL than third round picks, and some years, undrafted skaters even prove more successful than second round picks. So, if the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the lack of quality picks from the Jarome Iginla trade bothered you, NHL history offers some solace. And pie. And green beer.
3. An interesting draft side note, sixth round picks have nearly as good a chance as fourth round picks of making it to the NHL. For this year’s teams, only 12 more picks from the fourth round made the NHL squads than sixth round selections, comprising a mere 1.3% improvement. And that's enough draft talk, time for a draught.
1. San Antonio rookie defenseman Anton Lindholm was called up to join the team for Tuesday’s practice, making him the third recall of the four allowed. (J.T. Compher counts as one and they did a paper send down and call up on Jeremy Smith so he can be reassigned after the Avalanche season ends).
2. The Avalanche can only call up one more player for the season. With the Lindholm recall, it will be interesting to see who may replace him on the Rampage. If San Antonio doesn’t call up someone from the Colorado Eagles, there may be an upcoming college signing.
WHAT TO WATCH
1. The Avalanche will host the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm, in the battle of the two division losers. Colorado then hits the road for a weekend set of back-to-back games. The Avalanche will make their final appearance in Joe Louis Arena on Saturday at 11 am and then face off Sunday at 5 pm against the Chicago Blackhawks. Hopefully, the Avalanche won’t get swept away by the green river in Chicago. Otherwise, there’s not enough beer.
2. Some free agent college hockey players whose teams aren’t making the postseason will be getting NHL offers this week. Rumors have it Colorado may be in the market for a player or two.
3. For those following Avalanche prospects, the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semi final game Friday will feature a St. Patrick’s Day showdown between center prospect Tyson Jost with his University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks against the DU Pioneers with defensive prospect (and team captain) Will Butcher. May the road rise up to meet them both!
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