Another week, another Twitter Tuesday mailbag. This week we get to play a little devil’s advocate and armchair coaching starting with question one.
Imagine you’re coaching against the Avs. How do you beat them? What are their weaknesses? Do the Avs have what it takes to go 7 games against the league’s best?— Gil Maneclang (@Rx_MoreCowbell) October 21, 2019
Man, I like this question a lot. I’ve thought about this quite a bit actually and I think this is how I’d do it.
If you’re playing against the Avalanche, it really all comes down to how your team defends that notorious neutral-zone drop pass, which usually goes to one of either MacKinnon, Compher or Girard usually.
Most teams will stack the neutral zone with all five of their guys which allows one of the aforementioned speedsters to kind of just dance around the guys not moving their feet. Once the Avs forward (or defender) gets close to the opposing team’s blueline, they’ll dump it in the zone and chase it with little to no pressure down deep. This gives Colorado plenty of time to get the puck and begin the set up in the zone.
If I were an opposing coach, I’m leaving two guys in my own zone, probably around the hash marks and the face-off circle. Then I’m leaving one guy on the blueline and then two around half-ice. That way when the Avs dump it down deep, you have two guys to collect the puck, chip it back up the boards to your own guys in the neutral zone and you’re going the other way.
That, and don’t take penalties against the Avalanche. Easier said than done, I suppose.
It's great that the Avs have gotten off to a hot start, but some of their underlying numbers regarding puck possession and scoring chances leave much to be desired. It kind of reminds me of '13-'14. Do you see that as a problem, and do you think they'll be proactive fixing it?— Luke Campbelloween (@LukeCam80109424) October 20, 2019
Another great question and observation. While, yes, the Avalanche are having a great start to the season, as usual, their advanced stats are here to rain on your parade.
Corsi percentage is an indicator of a player’s/ team’s puck-possession numbers. A CF% over 50 percent means a team is generating more shot attempts than their opponent. The Avalanche as a team are currently 25th in the league with a CF% of 47.57% at 5v5. That’s not good.
The fact that the Avalanche are still 7-1-1 to start the year is why people are so divided on whether or not to care about these kind of numbers. Who cares about possession numbers as long as you’re winning, right?
The results are what matter, but these numbers can be concerning from a predictive standpoint. The team is winning with bad possession numbers because they have a league best shooting percentage (13.43%) and are 7th in the league in save percentage (.929). That combination has led to a league-high PDO of 105.9 - 100 being the benchmark.
This means that once the law of averages takes over, the Avalanche could be in some trouble. Both of these percentages - particularly the shooting percentage - are going to regress towards the mean. When that happens, the team is going to need to play with a better shot share if they expect to keep winning at a high rate. No team shoots at a higher than 13% rate over the course of a season. In fact, last year's Lighting were the only team to exceed 12% in the last decade. That Avs aren’t going to keep scoring at the rate they are - unless this team is a freak statistical anomaly - so something will have to change as the season goes on.
Do you think the AVS will have at least 5 50pt guys this season?— ryan brideau (@ryanbrideau) October 21, 2019
I think the Avs have six 50-point guys by the end of the regular season.
The obvious three are MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen, who should all have no problem eclipsing 50, as they’ve done the last two years. I’ve been saying this is the year Kadri gets back to the 50-point marker for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign in Toronto.
I think Burakovsky has a chance to hit 50, given how he’s looked in the early parts of the season. And if Rantanen misses some time from the injury he sustained against the St. Louis Blues, Burakovsky will likely slot in with the top-line like he did in training camp and pre-season. That will certainly help his point total grow.
My sixth guy — and my long-shot pick to hit 50 — is Cale Makar. He’s pretty much on a point-per-game pace to start the year and he’s been given every opportunity on the power play and with the Avs’ lethal top-line trio. It’d be almost impossible to not rack up at least 40 assists and a few goals given the situations Bednar throws him in. My bold prediction is Makar finishes with eight goals and 44 assists en route to claiming the Calder Trophy.
Do you think the avs will be able to sign/ Will want to sign Smirnov and Morrison?— Nick (@meatface55) October 22, 2019
I see these two guys as a couple of odd-men out. Both are well into their NCAA careers and both have done little to stand out. Denis Smirnov is now 22 years old and is now in his fourth year at Penn State, putting up ok numbers. Cam Morrison is 21 years old and is also entering his fourth year in the NCAA playing for Notre Dame.
Both are two talented wingers but have really done little to stand out. What might save them is the fact that Colorado is pretty weak on wingers.
You have Martin Kaut as your No. 1 winger prospect and then you have A.J. Greer, who has all but terminated his own contract with the Avalanche, and then you have second-tier guys like Logan O’Connor, Nick Henry and Ty Lewis who still need a few seasons in the AHL before they compete.
I really only see one of them earning an entry-level deal. Smirnov has my vote.
Do you think the team will continue to employ aj greer after this? If so why?— Nick (@meatface55) October 22, 2019
Greer has always been a bit of an enigma in the Avalanche organization. Ranked 69th (nice) on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings in 2015, the Avs selected him a whole round early at pick number 39 of the second round in 2015. Since then, he’s been scratching, clawing and mostly fighting his way in and out and up and down Colorado’s depth chart.
I was shocked that the Avs re-signed the feisty forward after his offseason off-ice drama in New York City this past summer. But either way, they did and after what’s transpired this season, and with the recent six-game suspension for his moronic loss of temper against the Milwaukee Admirals recently (check the video), I’d assume this is the last straw for Greer in Colorado.
I’ll be interested to see if there are any takers in the trade market. More than likely not and the Avs will lose its former second-round pick for nothing in free agency.
Will we ever get to the watch the Avs again?
Got to watch the last game. For some reason the Bolts feed was not blocked on the NHL package. I'm sick a damn tired of this TV situation. When am I going to get to watch?— GreatBaldyOne (@GreatBaldyOne) October 20, 2019
Why is the Nuggets game on television, however the Avalanche games are not?— Bryan Pedigo (@BryanPedigo2) October 18, 2019
The only update I can give you on the matter is that the Blake Street Tavern has graciously offered to illegally(?) stream the games at their location for all in-market Avs fans who can’t watch on Altitude.
We are streaming the @Avalanche @nuggets games starting with tonight’s Avs/Blues game. Contrary to reports, we have NOT received authorization from Kroenke Sports. However, it’s our understanding that Kroenke Sports is working on a solution for fans! #GoAvsGo #MileHighBasketball— Blake Street Tavern (@BlakeSt_Tavern) October 21, 2019
Les Shapiro, Co-host of a locally sports-talk radio show in Denver, got word from Altitude that they’ll “look the other way” in regards to Denver’s local tavern streaming its games.
While the Blake Street Tavern twitter account is claiming that Kroenke Sports is working on the solution, no one knows for sure when this drama will end. Perhaps never — I don’t know. In the mean time, support your local tavern and watch the games there or find your own way to stream the game like most of us in-market viewers have.
More questions? Hit me up on Twitter @0ffScottFree and I’ll see you next Tuesday!