Colorado Avalanche: Short-Term Goals for the 2017-18 Season

DENVER, CO - MARCH 7: Gabriel Landeskog
DENVER, CO - MARCH 7: Gabriel Landeskog /

The Colorado Avalanche need to set — and achieve — short -term goals in the upcoming season to set the foundation for success.

The Colorado Avalanche’s 2016-17 season is going to be a tough one. They’re not set up for “real” success in the form of playoff contention. The team didn’t make enough roster or coaching changes to recover that much from their embarrassing 48-point season.

No, the Avalanche are in a full rebuild, and there can be no denying it. The team coming at us next season is a young one — only Blake Comeau (31) and Carl Soderberg (31) are over the age of 30. Many players expected to make the roster are 25 or under.

This is a good thing. At least a handful of the players will not have been part of the debacle of the 2016-17 season. And a lot of the players who were should be able to bounce back. Ah, the resiliency of youth.

Success comes when you set a few short-term goals that lead in the eventual target destination. The Colorado Avalanche did this a couple seasons ago to good result. Their goals then were to get at least 30 shots per game, hold onto possession in the offensive zone and to keep their feet moving.

These were great goals. When the Avs achieved them, they tended to win. It wouldn’t hurt for Colorado to keep those goals in mind again.

However, let’s look at some goals this team in particular should be working toward next season.

Decrease the Shot Differential

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Last season the Colorado Avalanche were #27 in shots differential with -300. They were #27 in shots per game with 28.1 and #24 for allowing 31.7 shots per game. I’d love to see reversing that metric be a top priority for the team.

Part of the problem last year was confidence. The players have talked about it before. When things are going badly, you don’t want to be the one responsible. If you didn’t take the shot, you didn’t miss the net or get it blocked or saved. That has led to the players passing the puck way too much.

It also led to that ridiculous play of Comeau passing on a breakaway.

The players need to make a deliberate effort to have a shoot-first mentality. Don’t look for the pretty play or any play other than getting pucks on net. Ugly bounces happen — and those ugly goals count just the same as pretty ones.

Improve the Power Play

Last year the Colorado Avalanche were dead-last in power play percentage at 12.6%. It should come as no surprise that they were dead-last in actual power play goals, too, with 30.

One of the coaching changes the team did make was hiring assistant Ray Bennett. He’s a veteran coach, and one of his tasks is revamping the power play. Surely the team’s revamped power play can better the above statistics.

The previous goal, developing a shoot-first mentality, should help here, too.

Improve the Penalty Kill

The Colorado Avalanche were also #29 for their penalty kill with 73.9%. Improving that statistic would be a good goal. Now, the defense is a well-known problem for the team. However, improved systems should be able to help.

The Avs were #28 in penalty minute differential with +91, meaning they took that many more penalties than they drew. That looks like another good area for a short-term goal. They simply must stay out of the penalty box. Plus, while diving will garner a penalty, their speed should be able to draw a few penalties.

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I sincerely hope Colorado takes on some of these goals as baby steps to eventual success.