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Points and Penalties: A look at numbers from the first round

After sweeping the Nashville Predators in four games, what do the numbers tell us about Colorado’s first round.

NHL: MAY 03 Playoffs Round 1 Game 1 - Predators at Avalanche Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the Colorado Avalanche preparing to face the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday I thought it might be fun to take a look back at their series against the Nashville Predators. Some of the standout players have been discussed at length, but what are the numbers telling us?

Makar’s Points

It’s impossible to write a post about the Avalanche’s statistics from the first round without talking about Cale Makar and his 10 points. He’s no longer leading the playoffs in points, however he is tied for a respectable fifth. Interestingly enough, everyone ahead of him played seven games (or six in the case of Carter Verhaeghe), compared to his four. He leads in points-per-game at 2.5, followed by both Verhaeghe and Connor McDavid who are averaging two points per game each. It’s a noteworthy achievement for any player, but particularly for such a young defenseman. The blueliner is also tied with his defensive partner Devon Toews in goals, along with Gabriel Landeskog. They each have three goals, and Nathan MacKinnon is leading the team with five.

A Favorite Goal

My favorite goal still belongs to Andre Burakovsky. It may be the only one he’s had so far but it was a good one.

The Usage

Unsurprisingly, Cale Makar leads the team in time on ice per game. He’s averaged 25:26 minutes on the ice over the first four games. Devon Toews isn’t far behind him at 24:44, which isn’t surprising considering how much time they spend on the ice together. Toews and Makar both give the team an edge, but Makar in particular has developed into one of the most useful players for the Avalanche. He can score, he can defend. He can come in when the team is down or be a key player when they’re holding a lead. His versatility is something we’ve been able to witness all season and I’m sure we’ll see much more of it in this upcoming series.

Mikko Rantinen leads in time on ice for forwards, at 20:25, followed by Nathan MacKinnon who averaged 19:37 in the first series. Of the players who played in all four games, Nico Sturm has the least time on ice at 10:08 followed by Darren Helm at 11:18. The team are stacked with a number of players who can play some serious minutes, but I expect we’ll see a similar showing from Toews and Makar this round.

Goaltending

To avoid making this a Cale Makar stats analysis, it’s important to point out that both Pavel Francouz and Darcy Kuemper have save percentages of .902 and .934 respectively. Jared Bednar talked about some of the mistakes made by the skaters in front of the net that resulted in goals in their last game.

Hopefully these mistakes won’t happen in this next round. Francouz had a tough job coming in to replace Kuemper after he sustained an injury to his eye in the third game. He played well and lived up to the challenge, but I’m still glad that the injury to Kuemper wasn’t serious and hopefully we can get to watch him start on Tuesday.

Officiating

One topic that’s doing the rounds is the state of the refereeing and how many penalties are called during the playoffs. I’ve seen quite a few people ask if the referees are really calling more penalties this postseason. It’s definitely seemed like it in some ways. I think many of us expected to start the playoffs and see very few powerplays, but that hasn’t been the case. Colorado as a team accrued 40 penalty minutes and the Preds picked up 56. That might sound like a lot, but it’s nothing compared with the 134 minutes the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to spend in the box. Back to the Avs, they spent 33 minutes in the box when they swept the Blues in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, so that’s a 21 percent increase overall, or an increase of 1.75 extra minutes in the box per game.

Here’s one final stat that means very little going into the next round with a new opponent, but it’s my favorite so I had to share it.

Perhaps it’s not relevant, but we can keep our fingers crossed for a similar showing this time!