The Colorado Avalanche have been a bit enigmatic so far this season. The team is playing well, currently in second place in the Central Division, one point back of leading Winnipeg, but has offered many questions as the season has progressed.
One player at the beginning of the season who was also an enigma for Avalanche fans was forward Jonathan Drouin. His entire career has been up and down, a time of excellent play followed by a period of not-so-excellent play.
This season started out slowly for Drouin. It was not good enough, quite frankly, as we here at MHS had some critiques of his play. Through the first ten games of his season, Drouin had one point (1!) and was a -3, or on the ice for three more goals allowed than scored. Those are not good numbers, and his play was nowhere near where it needed to be.
Since then, Drouin has been a completely different player- an MHS bump if I can steal a catchphrase- and has really boosted his numbers on the ice. Drouin has 20 points in 28 games since the article, and he’s been vital to helping the Avalanche distribute the scoring load outside of the big three.
Over the full season to this point, Drouin has 21 points in 38 games played, 9 goals combined with 12 assists. Over his last five games, Drouin has six points. He is making MHS eat our words, to the benefit of the Avalanche.
When looking further at the extended stats, Drouin is having one of the best seasons of his career. His 15.8% shooting percentage is the second highest of his career. His highest was 16.0% in 2015-2016, a year in which he only took 25 shots.
His possession metrics are very high as well. His Corsi for percentage is 62.1, the highest rate of his career by almost two full points. This means that his team was controlling the puck 62.1% of the time while Drouin is on the ice.
Drouin’s Fenwick number is 61.9, also the highest of his career. This number is like Corsi and measures control of the puck relative to shots taken or missed. A Corsi/Fenwick number over 50 is considered a good number, so nearly 62 in both categories is very good.
The numbers don’t lie: when Drouin is on the ice, the Avalanche have controlled the puck. If they control the puck, that means the opposition does not, and in turn can’t make plays. These advanced metrics have become part of the game and help determine a player’s worth.
Drouin’s expected plus-minus, a measurement of expected goals for and against, is 5.1. To put the quality of his play into perspective relative to this number, Drouin’s expected plus-minus over the last two seasons was below -7. He’s made massive improvements.
What can his improvement be attributed to? That’s a good question. It could be coaching, new voices, something different he hadn’t thought or been held accountable for over the years possibly. Maybe it’s reacclimating to friendly confines in the locker room with junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon.
Whatever it is, Avalanche nation hope this play continues.