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Avalanche By the Numbers: Goal Drought

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When your best players aren't scoring, it's hard to win games.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, we have too many of our forwards in a slump.  If you look at our last 10 games, there are too many of them who have zero goals in ten games or 1 goal in the last ten.  It's not enough offensively.  We need more from our top guys." -Patrick Roy, Dec. 29th


Nathan MacKinnon:  1 goal in 21 games.  Gabe Landeskog:  1 goal in 15 games.  Matt Duchene:  goalless in the past 10.

These core forwards are only the tip of a team-wide epidemic.  Quite simply, the Avs aren't scoring right now.

Some might point to poor Corsi or regression after last year's lucky season, and there's no denying those aspects are at play.  By a quick glace a the advanced stats, Colorado is one of the few teams with a slightly above 100 PDO at even strength, and both their save and shooting % as a team seem within standard bounds.   Nothing stands out as a red flag, so it is entirely possible that the team is as bad as the standings suggest.

So why does the entire team by the eye test seem to be in a slump goal-scoring slump?  Is it just a case of misaligned expectations after last season, or is something else to blame?

Let's start by looking at the roster.

-Name- -Shots- -Carrer s%- -'15 Goals- -Exp Goals- -Diff-
MacKinnon 116 10.0% 6 12 -6
Landeskog 121 9.0% 8 11 -3
Duchene 99 12.0% 10 12 -2
O'Reilly 89 10.0% 7 9 -2
Barrie 68 7.4% 3 5 -2
Talbot 41 10.7% 2 4 -2
Holden 39 10.6% 2 4 -2
Hejda 38 4.3% 0 2 -2
Stuart 21 5.1% 0 1 -1
Iginla 72 13.2% 10 10 0
Briere 50 14.2% 7 7 0
Redmond 36 10.2% 4 4 0
McGinn 36 10.5% 4 4 0
Mitchell 36 10.1% 4 4 0
McLeod 34 8.6% 3 3 0
Cliché 26 2.1% 1 1 0
Guenin 16 5.3% 1 1 0
Tanguay 49 18.9% 12 9 3
Johnson 97 5.0% 10 5 5
94 108 -14

Based on career shooting percentages, more than half the team is below where they normally are goal-wise at this time of year.  MacKinnon and Landeskog's luck has been especially bad, and only Tanguay and Johnson are scoring above average.  Given the Avs current record in one-goal-games, it's not inconceivable that 14 extra goals could have equated to 7 or 8 extra points in the standings.  That would likely be enough for a wild card spot.


"We've been talking [about] playing simple hockey - put the puck on net.  And tonight, how many times did we lose the puck at the blueline or on turnovers or giveaways?  We're going to have to be better in those areas.  We're going to have to look at what the other team does, and they put a lot of shots on net." -Patrick Roy, Dec. 29th


When so many players from a single team are struggling to score, it's typically worthwhile to take a look at some broader stats.

Goals/GP NHL West Ranked 15th '15 Avs '10-'14 Avs
All 2.65 2.67 2.74 2.45 2.70
5-on-5 1.81 1.82 1.84 1.79 1.86
Power Play 0.59 0.58 0.58 0.47 0.57
PP min/Goal 9:35 9:59 9:28 12:42 10:04

Shots/GP NHL West Ranked 15th '15 Avs '10-'14 Avs
All 29.8 30.5 30 28.8 29.5
5-on-5 22.6 23.2 22.1 22.3 22.8
Power Play 4.4 4.5 4.6 3.9 4.1
PP min/Shot 1:12 1:11 1:09 1:20 1:13

Shooting % NHL West Ranked 15th '15 Avs '10-'14 Avs
All 8.9% 8.7% 8.9% 8.5% 9.2%
5-on-5 7.8% 7.7% 7.8% 8.0% 7.9%
Power Play 12.4% 11.8% 12.1% 10.5% 12.1%

The first thing that stands out is that there are a lot of really bad teams in the NHL right now that are dragging the goals/GP average down.  The second thing is that the '15 Avs in some cases are one of them.

Interestingly, at even strength, the Avs are just a little below league average and their past 5 season rate for both shots and goals.  However, when you start to look at the power play, things get messy.  It's taking nearly the equivalent of over six minor penalty opportunities for the Avs get a goal, and they're averaging well over a minute between PP shots.  Even if the man advantage was chugging along at a more standard rate, they'd have 3 extra goals right now and possibly an extra point or two in the standings.  Although no one likes the guy yelling "SHOOT" on the power play,  the Avs could almost use that reminder.

It's also worth noting that if the 14 extra goals from above were added to the Avs current totals, their overall G/GP average would jump to 2.77, good enough for 15th in the league and 9th in the West.

When so many of your top players aren't scoring, the team isn't going to go anywhere.  In many ways, it's very surprising that the Avs are even 5-3-2 in their last 10.  Depth scoring and Erik Johnson have kept the ship afloat.

The good news is that many of the core players - MacKinnon, Landeskog, Duchene, O'Reilly, and Barrie especially - are due for some goals before too much longer, which could help bring some points the Avs way.  But with the team-wide shooting down and the damage already done, even normalizing puck luck probably won't be enough to move this team into a playoff position.  Without extra luck, increased shooting, or a player going on a tear, the Avs will almost certainly be hitting the golf courses early with only a middling pick to show for it.

Talent-wise, the Avs are an average team.  But if you live by luck, you die by luck, and Colorado's paying the price right now.