15 November 2009
The Avs played game 20 against Vancouver on Saturday night and have hit the quarter point of the season – let’s take a look back at the start of the Avs 2009-10 campaign. You can expect to see this same format on this blog after games 40, 60 and 82.
ADB’s 3 Stars:
1. Craig Anderson – In one of the rare occasions ESPN gave some airtime to hockey, Tony Kornheiser (PTI) actually uttered something worthwhile about the NHL. He said “You may as well rename the sport ‘Goalie’ because that’s how important they are.” The bottom line is this: without Andy’s stellar play, the Avs would be lucky to have half of the 27 points they hold now.
2. Ryan O'Reilly – On opening night, I was amazed that O’Reilly made the team. 5 games in, I thought the kid might actually have a shot to stick with the team. By game 9, I was praying that they didn’t send him back to Erie. Anyone who doesn’t think O’Reilly has outplayed 3rd overall pick Matt Duchene over the first 20 games is lying to themselves – and that really isn’t a knock on Duchene, it’s a credit to O’Reilly. Faceoffs? No problem, a respectable (and team leading) 48.6%. Game winning goals? He’s got one (in Montreal). Plus / Minus – He's tied for 3rd in the NHL (+12). O’Reilly has made every single team that passed on him, particularly those who used a mid to late 1st rounder on another forward, look really silly.
3. Kyle Quincey – You’d have to say the Smyth / Quincey deal has been a win / win for both Colorado and LA. Ryan Smyth has a great start in LA (23 points) and Quincey has been everything he was advertised to be – a very solid two way defensemen who is effective on the PP. Quincey was brought here to be a #1 Dman, and through the first 20 games, he has been one. With Liles only playing in 10 games, you imagine how offensively pathetic the Avs D would be if Quincey wasn't on this team?
(Wow – look at that, all players that weren’t on the 08-09 Avs.)
ABD’s 3 Goats:
1. TJ Hensick – Ok – maybe its a little unfair give the #1 goat to a player who only appeared in 6 games, but someone has to get it. Two reasons why I decided on Hensick:
#1 His performance can’t hold a candle to any of the other “Lake Erie kids” that are with the big club now. (Jones, Stewart, Galiardi, Cumiskey) Those guys are his closest peers and he is clearly on the bottom of the group.
#2 Even with all of the injuries to forwards, Hensick can’t get any consistent ice time. And frankly, he doesn’t deserve it.
I’ve said it before and I still believe it: TJ Hensick has no future with this team. It would be beneficial for both parties if he’s moved.
2. Marek Svatos – Svatos is supposed to be a pure goal scorer and he only has 5 goals – that’s a pace for an underachieving 20 goals on the season – and its not like he hasn’t been playing with talent, playing with some combination of Duchene / Tucker / McLeod and getting plenty of ice time on the PP. Combine the lack of goals with bad hooking penalties (he has taken 11 minors), and a team worst plus / minus (-9) and you have secured the 2nd spot. Goal scorers are admittedly streaky, and he does have 3 goals of his 5 goals in the last 5 games - so maybe he has begun to pull himself out of the funk.
3. David Koci - Only 21 penalty minutes in 19 games?! WTF, David? You were brought here to crack heads, and no head cracking has been going on. (OK, it'd help if Sacco gave you a little ice time.)
Most surprising thing:
There were so many surprises over the first 20 games, but I think you have to go with the thing that matters most – their record. Even people who loved what the Avs did over the offseason still were conceding that the Avs were going to be awful this year. Case and point, I had the Avs finishing 14th in the Conference – today they are in 2nd spot.
Most expected thing:
We were all expecting the Avs to be at or near the bottom in many team categories – so here’s two where they are: Face Off Percentage (44.8% - 30th) and Shots on Goal (26.2 - 29th).
Standings: 1st in division, 2nd in Western Conference
Points: 27 (of 40)
Average points per game: 1.35*
*As a baseline – San Jose (last year’s President’s Cup winners) averaged 1.42 points a game and Anaheim (lowest point total who made the playoffs) averaged 1.11 points a game – anything above 1.20 is going to get you into the playoffs.
Home record: 6-2-0
Points: 12 (of 16)
Average points per game: 1.50
Road record: 6-3-3
Points: 15 (of 24)
Average points per game: 1.25
Goal differential: +6 (Avs: 60 - Opponents: 54)
*includes goals awarded for winning a shootout
Power Play: 18.4% (14 of 76), 20th in NHL
Penalty Kill: 82.8% (15 of 87), 9th in NHL
1. Paul Stastny - 18
2. Wojtek Wolski - 16
3. Ryan O'Reilly - 15
1. Wojtek Wolski - 9
2. Milan Hejduk - 7
3. David Jones - 6
1. Paul Stastny - 14
2. Ryan O'Reilly - 11
3. Kyle Quincey - 10
Plus / Minus:
Plus leader: Ryan O’Reilly (+12)
Minus leader: Marek Svatos (- 9)
*Plus / Minus can be a really misleading stat when considered across the NHL as a whole, but I believe plus / minus has value when viewed in the context of the same team.
Anderson – 19 games, 11-8, .926
Budaj – 2 games, 1-0, .865
After an extremely good start, the Avs are beginning to cool off - they are 2-4-1 in their last 6 games. Are the Avs true contenders for the Northwest Division title or are they going to have to find hard to get a playoff spot? We should have a much better idea after the next 20 games.
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