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Milan Hejduk May Actually be Hurting the Avs

The Colorado Avalanche have allowed nineteen goals against during the first six games of the 2010-11 season.  That's not great, but their 3.17 goals against per game average isn't the worst in the league. The Rangers hold that dubious distinction (partly due to the Avalanche) with a 4.00 average.

Of Colorado's nineteen goals against, five were scored during opposing power plays, and three were scored shorthanded by opponents during Colorado "powerkills." 

After perusing the individual player stats today, I noticed that Milan Hejduk has a -7 rating after the first six games.  That would indicate that he's been on the ice for a disproportionate number of opposing even strength and shorthanded goals.  Turns out, he has been.  The Duke has been skating slowly in circles on nine such occasions. 

That seems bad, but he hasn't been out on the ice all by his lonesome, and he's not on the ice every time the Avs give up a goal.  Who else has been skating with him while the Avs have given up goals, and how many goals have other players been on the ice for? 

Number of even handed or short handed goals against per player:

4 John-Michael Liles (4)

6 Jonas Holos (1)

9 Matt Duchene (6)

10 Kyle Cumiskey (6)

11 Phillipe Dupuis (1)

12 Kevin Porter (1)

18 Brandon Yip (2)

22 Scott Hannan (5)

23 Milan Hejduk (9)

25 Chris Stewart (6)

26 Paul Stastny (6)

27 Kyle Quincey (5)

34 Daniel Winnik (1)

37 Ryan O`Reilly (1)

39 T.J. Galiardi (5)

40 Mark Olver (1)

44 Ryan Wilson (2)

52 Adam Foote (3)

54 David Jones (3)

55 Cody McLeod (1)

Clearly Hejduk has seen the most even strength and shorthanded goals against so far. Duchene, Stastny, Stewart and Cumiskey are the only other players who come close.  And of course, the PP unit of Duchene, Stastny, Stewart, Hejduk and Quincey/Cumiskey has been especially bad at giving up shorthanded goals against---namely, all three the Avs have given up so far.

But those guys aren't the only ones that have defensive lapses with Hejduk.  The players on the ice with Hejduk during EV and SH goals against are as follows (with number of goals against in parentheses): Liles (4), Holos (1), Duchene (5), Porter (1), Hannan (2), Cumiskey (3), Quincey (3), Stewart (5), Stastny (5), Galiardi (1) and Foote (2).

It's clear from the numbers that some of the top forwards for the Avalanche, especially when playing together, are huge defensive liabilities (so far).  Duchene, Stastny and Stewart have given up a lot of goals, including some really painful shorties.

That's not necessarily a horrible indictment of those forwards, however, since they've contributed goals of their own (five for Stewart alone, with two game-winners) and have done their part to give the Avalanche a 4-2-0 record after six games.  But Hejduk hasn't contributed much, with only a goal and two assists during that same time period (while playing with those same top forwards), and nine goals against. He alone is the worst forward when it comes to goals contributed vs. goals allowed.

Hopefully his improved showing last night against the Rangers is a sign of better games to come for Milan Hejduk.  As of right now, though, he seems more like a liability than a positive contributor. Maybe there are other interpretations of his stats so far that aren't as foreboding.