Colorado Avalanche 2019 Mid-Season Report

The Colorado Avalanche currently have a record of 25-14-4 after 43 games of the 82-game season and hold the second-most points in the Western Conference behind only the St. Louis Blues. They have started a mini-slump through their last 10 games where they have a 5-5 record with some bad losses to division opponents, four of which were on home ice.

Fans are hopeful this mid-season slump will be short-lived and, now that the team is healthy, they can get back to dominant hockey. In the last three contests, the Avalanche are 2-1 and have outscored quality opponents 12-6, marking the beginning of their second-half push.

The Avalanche have scored the most goals in the NHL through the halfway point with 156 (3.7 goals per game average). The team boasts the highest goal differential in the NHL at +31, meaning they have scored 31 more goals than have been scored against them.

Nathan MacKinnon is currently third in the NHL in points with 64 behind only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Pavel Francouz is fifth in the NHL in save percentage at 92.7 percent. Ryan Graves leads the NHL in plus/minus as +31 with Ian Cole right behind him in fourth with +24. Finally, Cale Makar is second in nearly every rookie category despite playing eight fewer games than whoever he is behind. (He missed a handful of games after a collision with Brad Marchand that resulted in an “upper-body injury” which kept him out of a handful of contests.)

The Avalanche have been a great road team, having played more than half of their games on the road and maintaining a higher win percentage on the road compared to their home win percentage. Mikko Rantanen is coming off a hat trick after playing with the third line to mix up the rotations a little bit.

Nathan MacKinnon was voted the captain of the Central Division for the 2020 All-Star game for the second time and will be attending the All-Star weekend for a third consecutive year.

There is a big push for Cale Makar to be voted as a “last man in” candidate the same way that Gabriel Landeskog was in the 2019 games. Each fan can cast up to ten votes per day here.

The Avalanche fell 1-0 against their old goalie, Semyon Varlamov, and the New York Islanders on Monday. The Avs are on a three-game east coast road-trip that started with the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders and continues with the New York Rangers before returning home for a five-game homestand.

This season has been great from a fan’s perspective as the players the Avalanche brought in for secondary scoring have absolutely contributed what was expected of them. Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky have all been excellent additions, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been a gritty fourth liner and power-play specialist that frequently passes the eye test.

One of the biggest surprises of the season so far is Valeri Nichushkin, who has seven goals and eight assists for 15 points as a fourth-liner. Valeri consistently looks like the hardest worker on the ice, and after breaking his scoring curse this season, he seemingly figured out how to score again. He spent the 2018-19 season scoreless with the Dallas Stars through 57 contests. With the Avalanche, it took some games before his buried one, but since then, he’s been a night in and night out contributor with two game-winning goals, a short-handed goal, and adding skill and speed to the fourth line which oftentimes steps onto the ice and is completely oppressive to the opponents.

Since my early season report where health was a major issue, the team has returned everyone and is completely healthy for the time being. Valeri Nichushkin is listed as day-to-day on the injury report but it is seemingly a minor injury that won’t keep him out for long.

One of my concerns from the first quarter of the season was the faceoff percentage and that is still a concerning statistic as the Avs are ranked 28th out of 31 in win percentage at 48.2 percent. Faceoff percentage obviously isn’t a huge indicator of success because the Avalanche are second in the Western Conference and are winning games despite their percentage, but it’s a statistic that many had hoped would turn around and improve from the beginning of the season.

Nkita Zadorov stopped getting thrown into the penalty box at a rate that was concerning. Instead, Nazem Kadri now leads the team with 60 penalty minutes to Zadorov’s 45.

The Avalanche are clearly contenders with Stanley Cup aspirations and they have endured injuries and a mini-slump through the first half of the season. Now, they are ready to start getting into the playoff, second-half push. The sky is the limit for this team with one of the best players in the NHL, a Calder Trophy candidate, two capable goaltenders, a good mixture of youth and veteran leadership, and arguably the best top line in hockey.

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