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Avalanche defense becoming quite the story

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Did anyone see this coming? That the Colorado Avalanche defense would get tougher, without Cale Makar and Bo Byram and Erik Johnson? Did anyone expect that the Avs’ shots-against average would go down with guys like Dan Renouf and Jacob MacDonald and Greg Pateryn playing double-digit minutes lately?

It’s turning into a big story, the Avs’ defensive stinginess. I was at the game tonight at still-fanless Ball Arena, and if fans had been let in, they would have given the team a standing ovation as they left the ice. What a defensive clinic the Avs put on against the Los Angeles Kings. Colorado outshot the Kings 46-18. The Avs had the puck all night. Take a look at this flow chart:

The Avalanche defense have held opponents to 30 shots or fewer in the last 15 games. That’s an all-time record for the team. They are allowing an average of 24.9 shots per game, fewest in the NHL. The 2.36 goals-against per game ranks fifth.

They really are playing well defensively, and it’s not just the D-men doing it all. The forwards are doing a better job away from the puck, and working hard to get the puck when they don’t have it. They are really getting in on opposing puck-handers fast, given them no time and space to make decisions.

Question: What happens when Makar and Byram come back? Both like to play at the offensive end, though they work hard in the D-zone too. Can they just be inserted into a “system” that Jared Bednar may have right now, just as easily as guys like MacDonald, Renouf and Pateryn seem to have done lately?

Betting with the Barbers!

“The system is only as good as the players playing it,” Bednar said. “To me, it’s buy-in and it’s commitment and it’s hard work. That’s what defending is. You have to have the buy-in from the players, all your players. It’s hard not to buy-in on our team because our top guys buy in real hard. Then, everyone else has to choice but to follow suit. We just keep trying to raise the bar. I think we have players that are getting better at what we do. They’re picking up on the finer details. We’re not scoring a lot of goals right now. You saw like we had tonight, just a 1-0 game at the end, but we gotta want to win games 1-0, 2-1. I think when we do that we create more scoring chances.”

He’s right; the Avs aren’t just packing it in defensively, and foregoing anything at the other end. When they take the puck away from the opponent in their own zone – which has been often of late – they’re still charging down the ice, looking to score. Right now, the puck just isn’t going in a lot. But they’re still getting wins, and anytime you can win a game where you outshot the opponent 46-18, you’re a happy player, coach and fan of that hockey team.

Nothing’s perfect, but tonight’s game was pretty darn close to a perfectly played defensive game.

And you know the old saying about what, in the end, defense wins.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Matt Briggle

I couldn’t agree more. As frustrating as it is to see this high octane offense struggling to score goals right now, the team buy in on the D side has been phenomenal. If they can keep this up when they start getting healthy I don’t see any reason why they can’t start winning 6-2 on the regular against any opponent. The goals will come, I have to believe that – my fantasy team is built around that.

ricoflashback

Solid contribution by everyone last night. Great game by Grubauer again. Big saves when needed. Gravy’s blocked shot and clear out on the PK was special. Speaking of special – anyone notice how well Brandon Saad is playing?

[…] Did anyone see this coming? That the Colorado Avalanche defense would get tougher, without Cale Makar and Bo Byram and Erik Johnson? Did anyone expect that the Avs’ shots-against average would go down with guys like Dan Renouf and Jacob MacDonald and Greg Pateryn playing double-digit minutes lately? (Colorado Hockey Now) […]

troian

AD- Know you know how to assess this way better than me, and know that everyone is grasping for the positive in what has been a less than hoped for start revealing potentially end of season vulnerabilities…but how much of the low shot counts has been truly due to great defense, and how much has been a combination of opponent, and more to the point, opponents choosing to offset the Avs forwards (both due to their speed/talent, but also proclivity for being over aggressive and undisciplined at times) by turtling waiting for counter strike opportunities (not a unique approach, and… Read more »

Jared Moss

A question to be asked and will only be fully shown by the end of the Season…. was it the right choice to burn bryams first year of his contract? Right now looking like we could have saved a year and some salary but! Time will tell

hockeyhacker5

Yes, it was the right choice. He was playing too well to go back to junior and stagnate playing against 16-year-olds. He needs to be challenged so he can develop into his full potential. Byram is also good enough to be an asset in the playoffs, and the fact that he was playing a lot of minutes before his injury proves he belongs in the NHL.

Jared Moss

Yeah its always a tough decision it either helps the player or hurts than, curtis Lazar comes to mind being thrown in and sometimes not panning out. Also alexis lafeienre was supposed to light it up and is struggling. Some players just need time to get bigger and what not, pretty sure jack Hughes sames story really struggled for sometime.. but Bryam did look good and got better every game so I hope we continues down the right path!

[…] The Avalanche are dominating teams and their defense is becoming quite the story. (Colorado Hockey Now) […]

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