SUNRISE, Fla. — The Colorado Avalanche don’t lack for offense most nights, a press release that’s backed up by the membership main the NHL in each objectives and objectives per sport one month from the commerce deadline.
Possessing one of many high two scoring defensemen, two of the highest six forwards and one other on tempo to shatter private bests in offensive output is among the greatest foundations within the sport. However this group expects to win a championship, so each nit can and will likely be picked.
And one ongoing concern for your complete 2023-24 season has been whether or not or not the Avs have sufficient supplemental offensive weapons at their disposal. The offensive depth on protection is nearly as good as there may be within the NHL.
Up entrance, it’s much less clear. And because the previous three video games for the reason that All-Star break has proven, when Colorado’s world-class forwards aren’t firing on the typical fee, the Avs want extra from their supporting solid.
“That needs to be the mentality for these gamers (each sport),” Colorado assistant coach Ray Bennett mentioned Friday after an non-obligatory follow in South Florida.
“There’s a coach in our league that’s been round for a very long time that when mentioned, ‘Protected is demise.’ You don’t need them getting scored on, permitting scoring alternatives, possibilities, and many others., and many others., (however) they will’t play so secure that it results in not good locations. That may’t be the perspective. It needs to be greater than that. That’s the suitable means in that case with these guys. It may possibly’t simply be impartial, can’t simply be secure.”
The Avs have scored six objectives in three video games for the reason that break. The facility play has been shut out, however two per sport at even energy isn’t sufficient, both.
Valeri Nichushkin isn’t obtainable whereas he’s within the NHL/NHLPA Gamers’ Help Program, so the membership’s high aim scorer outdoors of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen can’t be the answer he was whereas scoring 21 objectives in 29 video games earlier than his absence. The road with Ross Colton between Miles Wooden and Logan O’Connor has been persistently good, but it surely’s the opposite two the place the offense comes and goes.
Colorado has performed 20 video games since Devon Toews’ sturdy postgame critique in Chicago. Nichushkin is fourth among the many forwards throughout that span with seven objectives. He’s solely performed in half the video games.
The Avs have six forwards who’ve performed in at the very least 15 of the 20 video games who’ve scored two objectives or fewer. Three of them are the facilities that line up on the depth chart behind MacKinnon. Colton, Ryan Johansen and Fredrick Olofsson have a mixed 4 objectives and 20 factors up to now 20 video games, whereas MacKinnon has 18 objectives and 37 factors.
To place all of it in perspective, Colorado traded away Tomas Tatar partly as a result of he was an offensive-minded ahead who wasn’t producing sufficient. Tatar’s factors per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 with the Avalanche this season (1.56) is best than six of the forwards who performed Thursday night time in Raleigh.
Three of these guys are the group’s fourth line. It’s not truthful to place all and even most of this on that trio. Their major goal is to not rating objectives. They’re anticipated to not get scored on first, and push the puck in the precise route. Targets are sometimes a bonus, however the membership does want them at occasions as nicely.
“I believe for us, offensive success is forechecking, momentum, zone time, having hard-working shifts that break defensemen down in order that when our different traces come out, we are able to capitalize on it,” Andrew Cogliano mentioned. “We’ve had good occasions, good moments however I believe there’s higher. I believe there must be higher. I don’t suppose we’re utterly completely happy.”
Some mixture of Cogliano, Olofsson, Joel Kiviranta and Kurtis MacDermid has been the fourth line most nights. That quartet has mixed for 11 objectives this season, although simply two up to now 20 video games.
“I believe our line has been OK,” Cogliano mentioned. “It’s been good at occasions. It’s been superb. However I additionally suppose with the consistency, I need us to push for extra. Fourth traces and third traces within the playoffs and down the stretch could make a distinction. It’s that easy. I don’t suppose we’ve discovered it but. I don’t suppose we’re there but.”
The options may find yourself being inside. Just lately injured Artturi Lehkonen and not too long ago signed Zach Parise have mixed to play eight video games since November, so two months of wholesome play for each ought to assist. Getting Nichushkin again ought to assist.
If the Avs do have one other transfer in them earlier than the March 8 deadline so as to add one other ahead, that might additionally assist. It may appear bizarre to say the highest-scoring group within the NHL has an offensive concern, however playoff collection may be gained and misplaced on the margins and a group with the best of expectations goes to need to restrict as many potential postseason weaknesses as doable.
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