Colorado Avalanche First Week a Mixed Bag

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

This year’s start by the Colorado Avalanche has already had it’s ups and downs, and a look at the numbers reflects the same.

The Colorado Avalanche finished their first week back to school with a winning record, sitting at 3-2-0. However, while the team has progressed in some areas, the numbers still tell the story of a work-in-progress.

Let’s have a look. But first…

The Qualifiers

Looking at numbers this early on can be problematic, so let’s get some qualifiers out of the way. The Avs have played five games, one of which was the second half of a back-to-back.

These games were against some of the best teams in the league last year: The Central Division Champions, the Stanley Cup Champions, the President’s Trophy winners, an Eastern Conference Finalist, and the Atlantic Division Champions.

More From Mile High Sticking: Free Agent Signings Check-in

All of these teams made very few changes to their rosters in the off season, and returned executing the same systems they’d used in extremely successful campaigns. These teams are finely-tuned killing machines, while the Avs saw a lot more roster movement and, obviously, a complete overhaul of their system.

Therefore, while looking at the numbers so far can help paint a picture about this season’s team, it’d be foolhardy to use them to predict the rest of the year.

Phew. On we go to the fun stuff: numbers!


Yes, let’s start with the big question for the season: will the Avs become a team that excels at possession hockey? So far, the answer is… kind of. (All below stats are at even-strength)

When it comes to pure Corsi For Percentage (CF%) at even strength, the Avs have returned to their spot at the bottom of the basement, ranked 30th out of 30 teams with a dismal 44.2%. Not especially encouraging, given that last year’s team finished at 44.5%.

Related Story: Fancy Stats Primer: Corsi

But by breaking down that composite stat, we can see cause for hope. Last year’s team finished with the worst Corsi Against (CA) in the league, allowing 164 more shot attempts than the second-worst CA team, the Ottawa Senators.

This year’s team, by contrast, has the 12th worst CA ranking. While this isn’t anything to spark talk of a Cup run, it’s encouraging to see the Avs focusing on keeping shot attempts down, something that was barely addressed last season.

This, of course, forces us to look at the other half of Corsi, and god, is it ugly. For Corsi For (CF), the Avs are ranked as the fourth-worst team, just narrowly edging out Minnesota by a point (Start the parade, we’re better than the Wild!).

This is actually the same spot the Avs occupied at the end of last season, so generating shot attempts seems to be an ongoing issue for this team.

What could be causing this lack of shot attempts? it could be failed breakouts, failed zone entries, or perhaps, a stubborn unwillingness to shoot:

Related Story: Nathan MacKinnon Needs to Shoot More

Whatever the cause is, the Avs were out-shot in three of their five games, which is not a trend that I’d like to see continue.

They did, however, prove they are capable of out-shooting opponents, as they topped Dallas in that regard, and tied the defending Cup champs. There is hope, but work is needed.

It can be difficult, however, to generate good even-strength possession numbers when you’re rarely at even strength. That brings us to a new segment I like to call…

“What the hell is Jarome Iginla Doing?”

I’d love to call this “The Colorado Avalanche have issues with penalty minutes”, but that would be inaccurate. Jarome Iginla, one of our so-called top-6 forwards, leads the team with 25 penalty minutes over five games, accounting for a third of our team’s total.

If this was Cody McLeod, I might shrug and say “well, that’s his role as a fourth-line winger”. But Iginla is supposed to be out there scoring with his wicked-accurate shot, not getting into unnecessary fights.

Here’s a fun fact: Jarome Iginla has never-ever registered more than 100 PIMs in a season.

I know he’s a physical player, but if he keeps up this stupid, detrimental pace, he’ll end the season with 410. Is that likely? God, I hope not.

For more on the team’s current love affair with killing penalties, here’s Nadia!

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Iggy needs to clean up his game and start being the player he was signed to be: Paul Stastny’s replacement.

So, what’s off-setting Iggy’s flare for needless penalties you may ask?

Puck Luck

Another number used to observe the success of a team is PDO, which is the shooting percentage plus the save percentage of a team. This is often looked at as a measurement of the skill and puck luck of a team:

Related Story: Fancy Stats Part II

Last year’s team finished with a PDO of 100.00, meaning they were perfectly average when it came to luck. This year’s squad, however, has one of the higher PDOs in the league, sitting at 103.5, which is good for fourth highest in the NHL.

The theory with PDO is that it should eventually gravitate towards 100 for every team, but I certainly won’t complain if our goalies and shooters keep up their above-average play throughout the season.

However, I would prefer that our goalies aren’t put in situations where they have to bail the team out as often as they have been; Semyon Varlamov has been forced to do that year after year, and that needs to change this year.


Overall, the Avs still have some kinks to work out in executing their system, and, they still need to resolve some issues that existed last year as well.

However, improvement is already noticeable in some key areas. So, there is hope that this team will evolve into a playoff-caliber team down the road.

Next: Free Agent Check In

Given the quality of competition, and the fact that the Avs have a winning record, I continue to be optimistic about this squad.