Morning Coffee – Avalanche Power Play Isn’t Doing Them Any Favors


What’s up with the power play?

First, how about a few stats? The Avalanche power play sits at 0-for-13 through the first four games of the season. The Avalanche have registered 8 shots on their 13 power play opportunities, and are the ONLY team in the NHL to average less than a shot per power play opportunity. Yikes!

The Avalanche are the ONLY team in the NHL to average less than a shot per power play opportunity

This is baffling. Eight freaking shots?! Prepare to be smacked with the baffle-board a few more times. The Minnesota Wild registered eight shots on a SINGLE power play in Denver on Saturday. The Avalanche have had the 6th most power play time this season in the NHL, due to their knack for never ending power plays early with a lighting of the lamp. The Avs have been on the power play for just over 23 minutes. The two teams just barely ahead of the Avs in actual PP time are Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Both have less than 20 seconds more PP time than the Avs have had to work with. Guess how many shots each of those teams has…

Did you even guess? Alright, I’ll just tell you. Tampa has 26 and Philly has 32. They have 6 and 5 power play goals, respectively – good for a top ten placement in the league for both teams. Notice the problem Avalanche? Shoot the puck!! Wayne Gretzky wasn’t known for his mathematical prowess, but he came up with a complex formula during his playing days. The result of the study, was quite shocking – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

The Avalanche entered this season with high hopes for icing one of the deadliest power plays in the NHL. Jarome Iginla and Daniel Briere were injected into a group that finished with the fifth best man-advantage conversion rate in the league last season. Plus dyno-kid Nathan MacKinnon had an extra year to mature, and figured to become an even deadlier player with the extra ice space this season. So far, the grapes aren’t being turned into wine.

The Colorado Avalanche have eight total power play shots on thirteen opportunities this season. The Wild peppered Varly with eight shots on a SINGLE power play in Denver on Saturday.

The problem the Avalanche are facing, in my opinion, is guys are afraid to make plays right now. When the Avs go on the PP, everyone is looking to set-up another player. Passes are being limited to the perimeter, and nobody is even looking to take a shot or get to the net. There is no denying the talent out there, but these guys are limiting themselves to a rigid setup of forced pass after pass after pass, until the eventual turnover.

Message to MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. You guys have world class speed and agility. Use it to burn a defender and get to the net. Use your greatest assets to create a scoring chance. Iginla, you possess a manly shot, and a frame that nobody wants to deal with in front of the net. I haven’t seen you utilize either of your strengths on a single PP yet this season. Get after it! Gabriel Landeskog. How many guys can honestly defend you when you drive the net? To everyone, take the shot when it is presented, and get traffic to the net. This is a simple message, and has been said a zillion times in the history of hockey, yet it seems like nobody on the Avalanche has ever heard the phrase before.

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The Avalanche are over-thinking, over-passing, and over-looking quality chances to put rubber on net, and it is costing them. The first game in Minnesota was a throwaway, but the last 3 games were all winnable. A key power play goal could have swung the momentum against Minnesota, given the Avalanche a comfortable win in Boston, and put a dagger in the Toronto game, giving the Avalanche a much different record at this point in the season. This team needs its power play to be a game changer.

A few other takeaways from Toronto

  • Matt Duchene made a big-time play in the second period. The Avalanche played a decent road game up until that point, and one of their superstars gave them a chance to win. I’m generally horrible at first person shooter games, so I imagine Reimer felt a lot like I do when I play those games, after Duchene sniped him.
  • Zach Redmond deserves a shot. Nobody on the Avalanche defense has been overly impressive at all. In fact a few players have been almost awful. Redmond looked really strong in training camp, and seemed to build a lot of positive momentum throughout the pre-season. Roy is making a mistake by not giving this guy a look. With the way our defense has played so far, what does he have to lose at this point?
  • Alex Tanguay is off. I don’t know if the injuries are still bugging him, or old-age, or what. The dude is really making me miss PA Parenteau at this point. Tanguay is one of my favorites to ever don the burgundy, so I hope he finds his game soon. It appears to have found a pretty good hiding spot though.
  • The Avalanche did pick up the all important loser point, despite falling 3-2 in OT. The full game recap can be found here.