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Friday, September 26, 2008


on 26 September 2008

Colorado is a team in transition. Though far removed from their Stanley Cup-hoisting years, the Avs consistently make the playoffs. They hold fast to a winning tradition, just as the snowpack clings to the mountainside. On the surface, the snow is undisturbed. Beneath the surface, however, the foundations are beginning to give way. Conditions are ripe for an Avalanche. Will the Avs slide off the mountain in 08-09?

Post-Lockout, Colorado is the most consistent team in the NHL, finishing with 95 points and an average of +.5 above the PQC in each of the last three seasons. After compiling a record of 43-30-9 in 05-06, they posted identical 44-31-7 records in the last two seasons. In 06-07, the Avs fell victim to a particularly strong Western Conference, and became the only team since the Lockout to finish above the PQC and fail to make the playoffs – a dubious honor, indeed.

Some statistics of note from last season:
  • Colorado’s road win percentage (.476) was the worst among playoff teams
  • The Avs’ power play was ranked 28th in the NHL (14.63%)
  • They had three 20+ goal scorers, led by Milan Hejduk (29)
  • Only one forward (Andrew Brunette) played all 82 games
While injuries always earn a fair share of the blame for team woes, Colorado’s issues run deeper. The face of the team, Joe Sakic, is entering his 20th NHL season at age 39. Seeing Peter Forsberg in burgundy-and-blue again is probably wishful thinking, at best. Andrew Brunette, the Avs’ second – leading scorer, is now with Minnesota. Head Coach Joel Quenneville has been replaced by Tony Granato. It’s a Changing of the Guard in Colorado. Can they complete the change and retain a playoff berth?

(cont) As stated previously, Colorado has finished with 95 points in each of the last three seasons. Assuming the injury bug doesn’t bite as hard (or as often) as last season, it’s not unreasonable to expect more of the same from the Avalanche. The question is: Will it be enough, or will they again finish above the PQC, but out of the playoffs?

The Avs first ten games of the season are played 9 – 30 OCTOBER. Our research indicates that in that time frame, Colorado earns an average PQC rating of 5.5 and about 11 points in the NHL standings. Last season, the Avalanche were one of just three teams in the NHL to play the entire season so close to the Playoff Qualifying Curve that they could not be called IN or OUT until they mathematically clinched a playoff berth 1 APRIL. With so many teams on the rise in the Western Conference this season, the Avs will need to kick it up a notch, or find themselves on the outside looking in by mid-April.

Some statistics of note for OCTOBER:

  • Since the Lockout, Colorado has a combined record of 15-12-3 through the first ten games

  • In 08-09, the Avs’ first ten games should give them every opportunity to get off to a good start: Evenly split between home and away, no back-to-back games, and no road trip of more than two games

  • A good start is critical: In 06-07, the Avalanche were exactly EVEN with the PQC at Game 10, and they failed to make the playoffs. In 05-06 and 07-08, the Avs were at least +.5 above the PQC at Game 10, and played into May
OGA will be measuring the Avalanche against their average PQC rating of 5.5, as well as against other NHL teams, in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with Colorado’s Game 10 Report, due to season subscribers by 2PM CST on 31 OCTOBER, and available for order from ongoalanalysis.com by 2PM CST on 1 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here… )

The great Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look back – something might be gaining on you.” The Avs would do well to heed those words, as Chicago and Edmonton appear ready to challenge for playoff spots. If Peter Budaj can play well enough night after night to make the goalie position his own…if Paul Stastny continues to blossom…if the defensive corps can compensate for the departures of Kurt Sauer and Jeff Finger…if Joe Sakic has enough gas in the tank for one more year…and if Tony Granato can mold and motivate this team to perform consistently at a higher level than in the past three years, then Avs fans could see some magic in “The Can” next spring. Track Colorado’s progress via The OGA Blogs, and be sure to check out the AvsG10R on 1 NOVEMBER.

Check back Saturday for the Columbus Blue Jackets SPR. Until then, Big Tex says, “Try the corny dogs.”

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