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Hold the Line: Putting Numbers to the Third Period Woes

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While we're all mad about the most recent Avalanche loss, let's compare how they do league-wide.

The line: not held.
The line: not held.
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Hey guys. It's midnight on Saturday as I write this, all games have gone final, and it will be out of date almost immediately by the time it catches eyeballs. But let's have a look anyway.

I went on a Twitter tirade not long ago about how poor the Avs' shot differential stats are when they have the lead late in the game. They aren't THE worst, relative to their baseline shot stats, but they're bottom-5. Everyone gives up more shots and takes less in that game state but Colorado do it relatively worse than most other teams. (The bigger total size of your bar, the worse your differential change, basically.)

(When you're already by far the worst team in terms of shot generation this is just setting you up to get roasted.)

So I thought it might be interesting to see what the tangible result of that has been. Assuming the stats on NHL.com are correct--which is actually a leap of faith and I cannot believe we have to say that in 2016 but it's the truth--How do the Avalanche really stack up against the rest of the league in blowing leads, and how often is it biting them?

The answer to the first question, to me, was really surprising. Colorado have had a lead after 2 periods more than 30 times. That's tied with Tampa for 4th most, and only behind Florida, Washington, and Chicago. Not surprisingly, winning 40 minutes is generally correlated throughout the league with winning 60 minutes. I've colored the playoff teams (as of tonight) red. Look who stands out.

Judging by their cohorts, Colorado should really be in that playoff spot. Why on earth would they not be? You know the answer or you wouldn't be reading this. They can't lock down the game in the third period. HOW BAD COULD IT POSSIBLY BE?

Oh, you know, just the second-worst points percentage. That bad. You can see the correlation here is maybe a little bit looser but for the most part, teams that lock it down when they are up after 2 are more likely to be in a playoff spot. Especially Pittsburgh who haven't dropped a point yet through 28 leads with 20:00 to play.

Out of 31 games when the Avalanche have been ahead after 2 periods, their record is 23-6-2. A 1.55 standings points per game pace. If they could just get up to 1.7 standings points per game, still not even out of the bottom 10 but at least closer to the rest of the league, they would have 52.7 points in this situation rather than 48. Hold on to two leads. Or even make it to OT before you lose twice and hold on to one other. That's all it takes. Seriously. Reverse 2 blown leads in the third period and you add 4 points to your tally. That STILL wouldn't even make them any good when leading in the third period. That's how bad this is.

I don't know about you, but I'd love 4 more points right about now.

So yeah. This should not be news to most Avalanche fans, but if you're like me, and when you suspect something is bad you want to know exactly how bad it is.... It's more Bad than Micheal Jackson.