After barely squeaking out a win in Toronto, the Rangers are in Denver tonight to take on the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs sit in last place in the Central Division after making the playoffs last season. This isn’t that surprising, as most #fancystats folks predicted a monumental fall from grace, which was followed up by multiple humorous attempts to grab their first round pick.
Despite being a bottom feeder, the Avs have a scary amount of high-end offensive talent that can make you pay if you’re lazy. The issue with the Avs is with their defense and depth. Outside of that offensive talent, they don’t have much depth in their forward ranks. Their defense is questionable at best. Semyon Varlamov prevents a lot of goals though.
What have they done lately?
The Avs have lost three in a row and sporting are a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games. Both Dallas and Minnesota have passed the Avs in the standings as well. The reason why the Avs are a bottom feeder is also the same reason why their fall comes as no surprise: They are not a good puck possession team that relied heavily on goaltending and an unrepeatable SH% last year.
The Avs have never sniffed 50% possession, and it shows, big time. It’s not like they’ve been hitting a string of bad luck either. Their PDO is just fine, right around 100 with the Rangers.
Their PDO has fallen about two points in the last week or so, so that’s worth investigating to see if it’s goaltending related or shooting related. If it’s Varlamov, then we’d expect to see a drop in SV%, which we don’t:
There’s a little drop, but nothing monumental. The drop for the Rangers, though, is expected. It’s the difference between Henrik Lundqvist and any other goaltender not named Henrik Lundqvist. As for the Avs’ shooting:
That’s where the sharp drop is. The team was around 10% for a while, well above league average. They’ve come crashing back down to Earth at around 6% at even strength (usually PP SH% raises overall SH%). That sharp drop explains the drop in PDO, and when you couple that with poor possession, you have a team that is flawed.
Patrick Roy has his boys running a very aggressive style of play. On the forecheck it is a straight 2-1-2 without sitting on leads. In the defensive zone, the Avs play straight man-on-man, so expect a lot of pressure and rushed/hurried decisions. On special teams, the Avs run a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill with very active defensemen.
Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Nathan MacKinnon
Alex Tanguay-Matt Duschene-Jarome Iginla
Cody McLead-John Mitchell-Dennis Everberg
Max Talbot-Marc-Andre Cliche-Danny Briere
Jan Hejda-Ty Barrie
Brad Stuart-Zach Redmond
Nate Guenin-Nick Holden
PK: ROR, Tanguay, Talbot, Cliche, Duschene, Mitchell, Everberg, McLeod, Holden, Hejda, Guenin, Redmond, Stuart
Semyon Varlamov gets the start.
PP1: McDonagh, Stepan, Nash, Brassard, Zuccarello
PP2: Boyle, Girardi, Kreider, Hayes, MSL
PK: Stepan, Nash, Girardi, Staal, Moore, Fast, Hunwick, Boyle, Hagelin, Klein, McDonagh, MSL
Cam Talbot is in net.
Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 9pm on MSG.