This story was written by Avs watcher/writer/good guy Ashley Glover. Ashley is a keen Avs observer who hails from Down Under, aka Australia, and he stands a good chance of being a regular contributor to Colorado Hockey Now.
In his debut piece, Ashley takes a bit deeper look into the numbers behind the seasons of Andre Burakovsky and Sam Girard, aka “Le Tornade.”
Let Ashley know what you think of his piece, give him suggestions for future pieces and welcome Mr. Glover to the CHN family:
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By Ashley Glover
For Colorado Hockey Now
What Lies Beneath: Burky and Sammy G
Let’s dig in and have a look at two guys that I think have been pivotal in what the Avalanche have done this season. So far we are 58 games down, 24 to go. Seventy-three points, and more to come. That, despite injuries and more injuries. A potential Hart Trophy to Nate Dogg and a Calder (or should we say Cale-der) for Cale Makar. The point totals, the trophies and the improvement in this team were somewhat estimated and expected coming into what was/has been a pretty good season to date.
But here is my take on two guys who have made the season perhaps even better than expected:
Andre The Old
Once the Burakovsky trade was made in the off-season, the potential for him to rapidly improve was evident. After five seasons being reduced to a third-line player because of a loaded top six in Washington, an expanded role in Colorado had the chance to see the young Swede grow. A look at his numbers pre-2019/20 paints a picture of underutilization. At a rate of 2.08 points per 60 minutes of play over an average of 12:45 career ice time, that put him in some decent top-six company for points per 60; Brandon Saad (1.8) Jakob Silfverberg (1.8), Tomas Tatar (2.03), Tyler Toffoli (2.07) and Gustav Nyquist (2.05), to name a few. Burakovsky did this in nearly three minutes less per game, on average. All players mentioned above also have their highest season point total ranging from 49 to 60. A far cry from Andre’s 38 in his sophomore season. Well worth the price that many said was too high. All that was needed was some research, some thought and a fresh set of eyes. The kid is gooooood.
Andre The New
As of today, he’s at 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) through 55 games. That is a 65-point pace through 82 games. New career highs in ice time, shooting percentage and goals, with 24 games to go. What more could you ask for? He’s also up to 3.2 points per 60 in all situations. That is better than the likes of fellow wingers Teuvo Teravainen, Patrik Laine, Mike Hoffman, Johnny Gaudreau and Taylor Hall this season. Not bad AT ALL. Again, well worth the cost wasn’t he? Now with Rantanen out for “weeks”, he will again get a chance to reignite that en fuego chemistry he had with Mack earlier in the season. I think the added responsibility will see him go bananas again. This is the same guy who keeps a diary after every game and writes his pros and cons down. Every game. Every damn game. He wants to be the best and to play with the best. Now is that time. Fans asked if the real Burakovsky would stand up? Well, here he is folks.
Besides now reaching his highest point total and finding his feet on offense, Samuel Girard has transformed himself into an elite transition blue-liner. Over nearly 200 5-on-5 minutes tracked, he has upped his total of 29 zone exits per 60 minutes to 36 this season – and has completed 50 percent of his exits. That makes for third-best in the NHL over such a sample, only behind Morgan Rielly and John Klingberg. That is elite company. This rise has seen both his Corsi and Fenwick reach career highs of 52 percent and 50.7, respectively. In other words, the extra exits are resulting in more scoring chances when he is one ice than against. Although he has not been as stable defending his own line as last season, his ability to take the puck away and exit the zone effectively is paying dividends. His shooting is still a work in progress, the shot selection and shooting distances in which he shoots are in the lowest percentile in the league. But once he has the confidence to up his possession entries into the offensive zone and shoot more, we should see better shot selections from a better range. No more head hunters. Perhaps more points will follow suit once he gets those sorted out. But for now Sammy is doing just fine and doing what is required. He’s turning out just fine for a second-rounder that was surplus in Nashville. Matt Who?