Connect with us

Colorado Avalanche

Reasons For Optimism, Concern After 10 Games For Avalanche




Before we go any further into this, let’s just get this out of the way – there’s a lot of season left for the Colorado Avalanche.

10 games is not much in the grand scheme of things. It’s not an insignificant amount, but it’s only 12% of the games the Avalanche will play this season. By the time March or April roll around, a lot of people won’t even remember these early season games.

In those 10 games, the team has given fans a reason to be optimistic. After all, they’re 7-3 on the year. On the flip side, the last 10 days have been pretty ugly, with the Avalanche having been shutout three times in their last four matches, so it’s not all sunshine and lollipops.

Here are some reasons for optimism, and some reasons to be concerned this early in the season.

Optimism: This Team Will Eventually Start Scoring

The Avalanche are currently shooting a measly 6.13% at even strength. No team last year shot worse than 7.49%.

Colorado is unlikely to finish near the top of the league in shooting percentage, given how much they use their defensemen and love point shots, but I refuse to believe they’re a bottom five team in the league when it comes to finishing. No, the team is not perfect, but eventually, pucks will start going in the net.

Optimism: The Penalty Kill

Is it more important to have a good penalty kill or a good powerplay? In the playoffs, and I might be in the minority on this, I’d rather have a good penalty kill.

Through 10 games, the Avalanche have the third best penalty kill in the league. On top of killing penalties, they’ve scored shorthanded goals as well. They’ve given up three powerplay goals against, but scored shorthanded three times themselves. That evens things out so far. The new guys have had some struggles at even strength, but they’ve fit in nicely on the penalty kill, including Miles Wood. One guy who I’ve been really happy with on the PK is Josh Manson, someone they essentially didn’t have all of last year.

Optimism: Fredrik Olofsson‘s Immediate Fit

Olofsson won the 4C job fair and square in preseason, and has been remarkably consistent through 10 games. He’s been good on the penalty kill, and very strong at even strength, as the team has controlled almost 70% of the shot attempts with him on the ice. That’s incredible.

There are some issues on lines 1-3 right now, but the Avalanche struggled to field a playable fourth line all last year. Olofsson’s arrival, at least for now, has fixed that issue.

Optimism: Ross Colton, Trending Up?

I had high expectations for Ross Colton heading into this season, but it was a slow start for him. Through the first five games, he didn’t look anything like the Colton I watched on tape in Tampa Bay. That being said, it’s not hard to see that he’s been trending up in a big way over the last five games.

You can say what you want about expected goals as a statistic, but only Nathan MacKinnon has more than Colton at this point at 5-on-5. If you look at his expected goals per-60, he’s number one on the team. Only MacKinnon is generating more shot attempts per-60 than Colton as well.

He’s not a perfect player, but I think he’s starting to get comfortable in an Avalanche uniform, and the points will start to follow…assuming he can start to finish his chances.

Concern: Ryan Johansen’s Even Strength Fit

On the flip side, you have Ryan Johansen. When you watch him, it’s not always pretty. He’s been a nice addition to the powerplay, which I predicted he would be this summer, but at even strength, his speed (or lack of) stands out in a big way.

He’s one of just two players on the team with zero even strength points. Now, his expected goals numbers are pretty strong, so you could also point to some bad luck on his end, but I don’t know if anything I’ve seen to date makes me feel more comfortable about his fit with the team at even strength. They’ve tried a handful of different linemates, but nothing has quite clicked yet. It’s still early, but 2C was an issue last season, so it will be point of focus this year.

Concern: Cale Makar’s Health

“Yeah, getting there,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s just been kind of a long process, and stuff never really gets worse, but it hasn’t really gotten much better. I’m confident that hopefully it can just continue to hold up.”

That was Cale Makar back when he returned to the ice during training camp, not ready to declare himself 100%. Since then, he’s put up 11 points in 10 games, which says a lot about how talented he is, but hasn’t quite looked like the dominant Makar we expect. He left the game in Buffalo with an injury, and took a weird spill against Vegas.

If we’re to assume, based off his words, that he was never 100% to start the year, you have to wonder where he is now. There are times in games where he looks like the Makar we know (see: last Wednesday against St. Louis), but it’s not consistent.

Is this going to be a concern all year long? I’d certainly hope not, but you never know.

Concern/Optimism: Overall Team Defense

When the Avalanche let Nazem Kadri go in free agency, it was clear that the focus of the team was going to be building around an extremely talented defense. Last season, that defense barely played together.

Through 10 games, no one has missed any time, but the defense has been out of sorts. It can’t all just be put on the defense, as forwards play a big role in team defense, but the play hasn’t been up to the standard the Avalanche expect. That has me concerned, but also could be included as a reason for optimism.

There’s no way a defense with this much talent struggles for much longer, right? The Avalanche have been one of the better defensive teams in the NHL over the last few years. I don’t think everyone suddenly forgot how to play defense, and that includes the forwards. One player who I think has had a particularly slow start to the year at both ends of the ice is Devon Toews. He signed a big contract, but he hasn’t been involved a whole lot offensively at even strength, and hasn’t looked like himself defensively. That will have to change.

Concern: Alexandar Georgiev

Georgiev is currently going through a stretch that he never experienced last season – five straight games with a save percentage well below .900. He had some four game stretches last season, but never hit the five game mark.

It’s not all on him, but with no Pavel Francouz and Ivan Prosvetov still an unknown behind him, the current struggles of the Avalanche starter are a little more concerning. I have faith that he’ll turn it around, as I’m a big Georgiev goaltender, but goalies have fooled me before. The team tightening up in front of him would certainly help.

This isn’t everything that could have been listed, but they’re some of the big ones I came up with. Where does everyone else stand? What has you optimistic/concerned after 10 games?

Don't Miss a Post!

Enter your email address to get all of our posts in your inbox!

Avs Team and Cap Info

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

This site is in no way associated with the Colorado Avalanche or the NHL. Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now.