I haven't been able to catch a whole game lately, so I didn't feel like I could justify writing blogs on games I didn't watch. That would not be fair to the players or to the readers.
The first number I want to examine is the wins and losses column. The Avs heading into tonights game in Nashville are 19 wins, 19 losses, and one overtime loss. That is a total of 20 losses no matter how you cut it. Even if you get a point out of it, you still lost. Looking at it by those standards, this is not a .500 club. They are one loss below .500.
Something of note with the way the NHL now structures it's point system is that the two spots in front of the Avalanche at the 10 and 11 seeding have fewer wins than the Avalanche. In fact the only reason they ahead in the standing is because they couldn't protect a lead, but rather protected a tie, in regulation, or forced a tie in regulation. There are two answers to this, change the system for points, or the Avs have to learn how to shut down the other team to force OT.
The next number that needs to be examined is the Goals for. The Avs currently sit on 97 goals for. That is the 4th lowest in the western conference. The only team ahead of them in the standings(only by two points)with fewer goals for is the Minnesota Wild. No surprise there, and they are remaining competitive with 93 goals, but only 86 against. The Avs however have given up 114 goals. Lets compare this to the elite clubs of the Western Conference. The San Jose Sharks have scored 41 more times than their opponents. Detroit has put the puck in the net 26 more times than they have let the opposition and Chicago has also put 41 more goals in net than they have allowed. To be an elite club you have to make sure that your defense is strong as well as strong goal tending. I truly believe that you also have to have offensively minded forwards who are willing to back check like crazy in order to support the defense and the goalie. 13 of the top 21 plus minus players in the league come from the three teams I mentioned above. This may seem like it is self explanatory, but plus/minus is a gauge of how well a player plays away from the puck. There are a lot of players who will never rack up vast numbers, but will be defensively responsible. In turn that gives your offensive players more freedom, and their plus minus will improve as well.
Now we will look at some things that are going on with the Avalanche in regards to plus minus. Lappy is a whopping plus 5. T.J. Hensick is a plus 6 but was not considered a regular player at the beginning of the season. Keeping that in mind, these guys are not what you would consider your offensive fireballs. Hensick has potential to be 20-30 goal scorer(with a LOT of work), but is only now beginning to see regular NHL ice time. Lappy is a defensive specialist, out there put hard checks on guys, and to keep the other team out of their offensive zone. He is consistently the hardest working player the Avs have. Double shift him, if he wants to play I would rather watch a guy work his tail off than a superstar who isn't playing well in the defensive end.
What are the numbers that are sticking out to all of you? Where do you see needed improvement in this team?