Playoff Experience - We Have None

Colorado's playoff experience is largely contained within this photo. Can you feel it? (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Our beloved Colorado Avalanche continue to flirt with the possibility of maybe making the playoffs this year. I personally don't see it happening, but nonetheless I thought I'd look ahead for just a second and it got me wondering what kind of post-season experience we have on the roster today. Gone are the days of Sakic, Forsberg, Foote, and Roy making deep playoff runs year after year. Hell, we don't even have the Sakic and Brunette every other year two round extravaganzas-type of experience left on the team. So here's how it breaks down for our current corp. of forwards:

Forwards Age # of NHL Playoff Games NHL Playoff Points Last Time in Playoffs Deepest Run
Mike Connolly 22 0 0 N/A N/A
Steve Downie 24 23 15 2010-2011 (Tampa Bay) 3rd Round (Tampa Bay)
Matt Duchene 21 6 3 2009-2010 1st Round
Milan Hejduk "C" 36 112 76 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champion
David Jones 27 10 1 2007-208 2nd Round
Chuck Kobasew 29 44 8 2008-2009 (Boston) Stanley Cup Finals (Calgary)
Gabriel Landeskog 19 0 0 N/A N/A
Jay McClement 29 4 0 2008-2009 (St. Louis) 1st Round (St. Louis)
Jamie McGinn 23 22 1 2010-2011 (San Jose) 3rd Round (San Jose)
Cody McLeod 27 16 2 2009-2010 2nd Round
Peter Mueller 23 0 0 N/A N/A
Ryan O`Reilly 21 6 1 2009-2010 1st Round
Mark Olver 24 0 0 N/A N/A
Kevin Porter 25 4 0 2009-2010 1st Round
Paul Stastny "A" 26 15 8 2009-2010 2nd Round

As you can see, meaningful playoff experience largely starts and ends with Milan Hejduk. Kobasew, Downie, and McGinn all have some experience under their belts, but nothing that you would call substantial and recent save for Downie's run to the Eastern Conference Finals with last year's upstart Lightning team. He (Downie, you know the guy currently hurt) is now the second-leading post-season scorer on the team. Downie and McGinn were the only players on the current roster to play last second-season. There's a smattering of games from some of the home-grown guys but the majority have little NHL post-season play beyond the 2010 1st round series against San Jose. Next up is the blueliners:

Defensemen Age # of NHL Playoff Games NHL Playoff Points Last Time in Playoffs Deepest Run
Tyson Barrie 20 0 0 N/A N/A
Stefan Elliott 21 0 0 N/A N/A
Jan Hejda 33 3 0 2008-2009 (Columbus) 1st Round
Matt Hunwick 26 14 6 2009-2010 (Boston) 2nd Round (Boston)
Erik Johnson 23 0 0 N/A N/A
Shane O`Brien 28 40 5 2010-2011 (Nashville) 2nd Round (Vancouver x2 & Nashville)
Ryan O`Byrne ** 27 19 0 2009-2010 (Montreal) 3rd Round (Montreal)
Ryan Wilson 25 4 1 2009-2010 2009-2010

Yikes! The pickens, they iz slim. Shane O'Brien leads all blue-liners with his plethora of not-quite-good-enough runs with Vancouver a few years ago. He also has last season's Nashville two-round run in his recent history. Other than that? Ryan O'Byrne (another guy that is dinged up right now) and his playoff appearances a couple of seasons ago for Montreal. Erik Johnson missed the Blues' playoff two-round run in '08-09 as that was the season he was out recovering from a torn ACL and MCL due to a golf cart accident immediately before his sophomore season. Last, but not least is the most experienced group (outside of Hejduk), the goaltenders:

Goalies Age # of NHL Playoff Games NHL Playoff Wins & Save % Last Time in Playoffs Deepest Run
Jean-Sebastien Giguere 34 52 33 - 0.925 2008-2009 (Anaheim) Stanley Cup Champion
Semyon Varlamov 23 19 10 - 0.915 2009-2010 (Washington) 2nd Round (Washington)

Ohhh thank Howard!! Finally some guys with some games under their pads! Giguere of course leads all here with his 52 post-season games, his Stanley Cup ring in 2007, and his Conn Smythe from 2003 (in a losing effort to New Jersey). He hasn't seen meaningful minutes in net for a playoff team since 2008 and lost his job to Jonas Hiller in 2009. Varly has the more relevant recent experience with his spectacular two-round-run as a rookie in 2009 and his 2010 post-season (3 wins, 3 loses) after trying to clean up after Jose Theodore.

In summary, when you look at how the roster is built, it's pretty apparent that playoff experience is thin. The total number of playoff games across the board is 413 games and 127 post-season points. However, if you remove Hejduk that number drops to 301 games and 51 points. The captain accounts for more than a quarter of the playoff experience for this squad and 60% of the post-season scoring. Not a good omen considering his less-than-outstanding production so far this year. Hopefully, he has another gear if the Avs are still playing after Game 82.

Note that the vast majority of post-season play (outside of Hejduk) comes from guys that have been with the team since this summer and not homegrown talent. Of the guys that were built from within, only Paul Stastny (15 games) and Cody McLeod (16 games) have a claim to any lasting experience. The blueline is woefully thin at post-season play outside of Shane O'Brien. The only position of strength in this metric is in the net as Giguere and Varlamov have historic and recent (respectively) experience in the high-pressure, soul-crushing NHL post-season. The good news is that if the Avalanche somehow manage to squeak into the 2012 version of Last Team Standing, they will learn AS A TEAM how to handle hockey's second season while leaning on Hejduk, O'Brien, Giguere, and (strangely) Varlamov's experience.

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