The woes of the Colorado Avalanche power play in the 2014-15 season are well-known by now. The team finished 29th in the NHL with only 37 power play goals and only a 15 percent power play accuracy. The Avalanche power play went up to a dozen games without earning a goal. This was disastrous for a team supposedly built on speed and scoring.
We examined at length the problem of the Avalanche power play while in the throes of the dismal season. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was the most eloquent in describing the difficulty:
"“Right now you step on the ice, and guys are doubting themselves, overthinking situations. And then you’re holding on to the puck a little too long, and all of a sudden it’s off your stick and down the ice.”"
Was the Avalanche power play as bad as it seemed, especially against the teams that counted the most — those in the Western Conference? Let’s have a look.
Avalanche Power Play, No Show
In fact, in the entire Western Conference, there was only one team against which the Avalanche didn’t score a power play goal — the Los Angeles Kings. Maybe it’s not too surprising considering the Avalanche only scored a total of four goals in three games. And, no, that wasn’t enough to beat the Kings even once.
To be fair, the Avalanche only had seven power play chances in those three games. The Kings are a pretty disciplined team.
It should also come as no surprise that in five games, with only four goals, only one of them came on the power play. That goal came by captain Gabriel Landeskog in the final game of the series — and only win. It’s hard to say exactly how many power play chances the Avalanche had in five contentious games, but the Wild accrued 27 penalties total. Some were matching, though.
The Avalanche also only managed a singe power play goal against the Nashville Predators. That one was courtesy of center John Mitchell.
Avalanche Power Play, Meh
In some cases, the Avalanche power play managed to show up, but it wasn’t impressive.
Strangely, the Avalanche only managed two in five games against the Dallas Stars as well, despite the fact Colorado swept Dallas. In fact, both those power play goals came in the same game, a 5-2 win at home. Landeskog and center Matt Duchene did the honors.
Avalanche Power Play Dominates
Against some teams, the man-advantage really worked for the Colorado Avalanche.
The current Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were one such. Landeskog, Iginla and defenseman Tyson Barrie each scored one within the five-game series. For Barrie, it was the only power play goal he scored against the Western Conference. (He scored plenty of man-advantage goals when head coach Patrick Roy pulled the goalie, but that’s a different animal.)
The Avalanche power play went one better against the St. Louis Blues, scoring four goals in five games. Two defensemen stepped up — Erik Johnson and Zach Redmond. Former Avs center Ryan O’Reilly got two power play goals.
The Avs power play was especially impressive against the Vancouver Canucks. In just three games, the power play earned three goals. Johnson, Landeskog and Mitchell were the power play heroes.
Avalanche Power Play, Etc.
To round out the Western Conference — or the Pacific Division, specifically — the Avalanche managed only one power play goal against five different teams — the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes.
Even stranger, it was five different players who earned power play goals — Iginla against Edmonton, Alex Tanguay against Calgary, Duchene against San Jose, Landeskog against Anaheim and Nick Holden against Arizona.
Power Play Heroes
Once you tally who all earned power play goals against Western Conference teams some patterns appear.
First of all, captain Landeskog earned the most — five. That just shows the Avalanche captain shows up when it’s really necessary. Alternate captain Jarome Iginla earned the second most, three.
Among defensemen, Erik Johnson rocked the blueline, scoring two. Redmond, Holden and even Barrie only scored one each.
As stated previously, the Avalanche power play struggled. However, the team still managed 21 power play goals against the Western Conference.
Last season it seemed like the team was employing the tea party model, meaning they were passing around the puck like it was a plate of cookies at a tea party. They didn’t shoot a lot. Previously, the team had cycled the puck more. Moving feet and moving puck had led to opponent confusion — and a better power play.
Though he didn’t contribute much against the Western Conference, center Ryan O’Reilly was a staple of the Avalanche power play. He, of course, is gone, as is Jamie McGinn. It’s hard to say who will replace them. Perhaps Carl Soderberg, Mikhail Grigorenko or even Blake Comeau. Maybe a prospect such as Joey Hishon or Borna Rendulic.
Hopefully the Avalanche can get back to a dangerous power play. It’s such a pity for an offensive-minded team to be weak in that area.
More Player Profiles vs the Western Conference:
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster