Colorado Avalanche: October 2017 By The Numbers (Part I)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Semyon Varlamov
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Semyon Varlamov /

Welcome to part one of a detailed look back at the October that was for the Colorado Avalanche. Here I will look at the team, goaltenders, and defensemen.

The Colorado Avalanche have posted a winning record in the month of October at 6-5-0, good enough for 12 points. It also places the team squarely in the middle of a six team cluster trailing the first place St. Louis Blues. It is a month that almost every Avalanche fan would have gladly signed for after last season’s dumpster fire.

Through 11 games, the Avs have scored, and allowed 34 goals, though 6 of the GF have been into an empty net, while only 1 GA was scored without a goalie present. On the other hand, the Avs also have the 7-0 defeat against Vegas, which skews some of their team stats on the negative side.

At even strength, the Colorado Avalanche hold a narrow 26-25 advantage in goals scored vs. goals allowed. On the special teams side of the equation, the Avs have a PP that connects at 16.7%, while the PK is at 80.4% for the season. However, after allowing 5 power play goals in the first 2 games, the Avs have only allowed 4 in the last 9, good for an 88% PK success rate.

# 1 Semyon Varlamov

Varly has made 7 starts, and posted a 4-3-0 record. He has a 3.01 GAA and .904 SV %. He also has the most skewed stats of anyone on the roster as a result of the Vegas debacle, where he allowed 7 goals on 21 shots, and received no help from his teammates. Before that game, Varly had a 2.35 GAA and .929 SV %.

Varly was excellent in his first 2 starts of the year, good in his next 2, average in his next 2, and then there was Vegas. It is a bit of an alarming trend, though the Avs have been close in all but 1 of his 7 starts. Maybe above all else, it has been encouraging to see Varlamov make it through the first month of the season with no signs of the injuries that have plagued his recent years.

# 45 Jonathan Bernier

Jonathan Bernier has been the quintessential backup goalie for the Avs. He has a 2-2-0 record with a 3.03 GAA and .906 SV %. Most importantly, he has kept Colorado in every game he has started. He was superb against Chicago in his most recent effort, turning away 39 of 42 shots.

# 3 Chris Bigras

Chris Bigras has played in 9 of the team’s 11 games. He has 1 assist and has averaged 14:40 TOI per game. Bigras has been steady on the blue line, rarely making catastrophic mistakes. He has settled into a 6th/7th defenseman role, and has shown signs that he may be capable of more.

# 4 Tyson Barrie

It is no surprise that Tyson Barrie leads all Colorado Avalanche defensemen with 9 points in 11 games, good for second on the entire roster. His 7 assists tie for the team lead, and both of his goals have been game winners. He also is second on the team averaging 22:08 TOI, behind only Erik Johnson.

What has been a surprise, one which I frankly did not see coming, has been his improved play in his own zone. Barrie has been far less prone to the soul crushing turnover and poorly timed pinches this season.

# 6 Erik Johnson

Erik Johnson has been the workhorse of the Colorado Avalanche defense core. He has played 25:45 per game, leading the team, and ranking in the top 10 in the NHL. He also leads the team in TOI on the PK, and his play has helped that unit improve in the team’s last 9 games. EJ has also displayed leadership qualities that many thought he was lacking, earning the ‘A’ on his sweater.

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However, for all of the positives one can say about Erik Johnson, he still makes about one play every night that leaves a fan scratching their head. He makes ill-timed pinches creating odd-man rushes against almost every other game. It is also somewhat concerning that he only has 2 assists on the year. EJ has scored 11, 12, and 9 in his Avs tenure, and those goals have dried up.

# 12 Patrik Nemeth

An afterthought of a waiver pickup to most Avs fans, Patrik Nemeth has been a stabilizing force of the blue line for much of the season so far. Nemeth leads the team with a + 5 rating and has added 3 assists, playing in 9 games. His work on the PK has also helped that unit. Furthermore, his defense first style has proven to be a great complement to Tyson Barrie’s game.

# 16 Nikita Zadorov

Following a lengthy offseason holdout, Nikita Zadorov found his way into coach Jared Bednar’s doghouse. His stats, 1 goal, and 1 assist, in 8 games with 20 hits and 9 blocks do not seem so bad, but Big Z has gone from top pair, to bottom pair, to healthy scratch over the course of the last few weeks. He will surely get another chance to play eventually, and he will have something to prove.

# 44 Mark Barberio

Mark Barberio has been a steady presence on Colorado’s third defense pair. He has 1 goal, a GWG in his 200th NHL game. As long as he is not asked to do too much, Barberio is a valuable contributor to the Colorado Avalanche, albeit in a limited role.

# 54 Anton Lindholm

Anton Lindholm has been the steadiest riser of all the defensemen on the Avalanche roster. He was a surprise cut following Patrik Nemeth’s waiver claim on the eve of the season. He then played only 4 of 7 games following his call up from San Antonio, averaging only 13:15 TOI, mostly on the third defensive pairing.

The last 3 games, however, has seen Lindholm’s role greatly expand. Anton has earned an opportunity to play with Erik Johnson on the team’s first pairing, and while he still does not have an NHL point, Lindholm has averaged over 19 minutes per game recently. He rarely makes mistakes, and he possesses a poise that is beyond his 23 years of age.

# 94 Andrei Mironov

Most Avalanche fans, including me, assumed that Andrei Mironov would be with the team for most of his rookie season. It took 1 game for him to be benched, and subsequently sent down to San Antonio. While in the AHL, Mironov played well enough to earn a second chance with the Avs, and he looked far better in his second game than his first.

Next: Colorado Avalanche Prospect Cale Makar Adding Value to UMass

Please check back to Mile High Sticking soon to see a detailed review of the Colorado Avalanche forwards through the first month of the season!