Gameday Preview: Colorado Avalanche

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 16: Paul Stastny  of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New York Islanders on October 16, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Isles defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

The Avs are a team I beat up on a lot last year. I took aim at them because their results weren’t commensurate with their underlying numbers: it seemed no matter how often they were outshot or outchanced, they found some way to win. Add in the fact that their roster was not only cheap but young and you have the recipe for what should be a bottom-feeder club. And yet, they made the playoffs.

As we’ve discussed before, the Avs survived on a combination of quality netminding and a bunch of kids shooting lights out. So far this season, things have been reversed for Colorado somewhat: their possession has improved but the percentages aren’t quite as impressive (although they’re still not awful). The truly bad news for Avs fans though is the recent knee injury to Craig Anderson. Word is he won’t require surgery, but knee problems in goalies can be tough to overcome given the demands of the position. Peter Budaj will fill-in in the interim and although he was more than capable as a back-up last season, he’s proven in the past he’s not a guy that can carry the mail for a long period of time.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Craig Anderson  of the Colorado Avalanche tends net against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 18, 2010 in New York City. The Avalanche defeated the Rangers 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
 

Glancing at the Avs corsi figures again, it’s interesting to note the names that are above and below water for them thus far – aside from Duchene and Hejduk, a lot of the guys on the positive side of the ledger are support players and, oddly, defensmen (Holos, Quincey, Winnik, Dupuis, McLeod). The guys that are usually pointed to by the talking heads as diffrence makers are actually fighting uphill so far this season: Stastny, Jones, O’Reilly, Galiardi, Stewart, Foote. Stewart in particular is an interesting player. He currently leads the Avs in scoring with 5 goals and 11 points even though he’s deep under water in terms of possession (-12.33/60) despite a zone start ration of 69% (!!). He’s shooting at 17% as things stand, but I imagine his output will be hammered down eventually unless he can start spending more time in the offensive zone.

The Avs were perhaps the Flames most frustrating opponent last season. Here’s hoping that Calgary can get things started on the right foot this year by taking advantage of an Anderson-less Colorado club tonight.