Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Two seasons ago, the Avalanche's Patrick Roy won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year. In Roy's first year, Colorado jumped from second-worst record the previous season to third-best in the NHL, and was considered to have overachieved with an amazingly consistent 112-point season.
Then Colorado regressed last season, finished last in the Central Division and missed the playoffs. Plus, the Avalanche is off to another bad start in 2015-16. The Avs will take a 3-7-1 record into their Tuesday home game against the Calgary Flames.
Speaking of the Flames...
Last season, Calgary's Bob Hartley won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year. Even more so than Roy the season before, Hartley was regarded as getting the most out of his roster in a 45-30-7 and 97-point season.
But the Flames are off to a rough start in 2015-16, and they'll take a 3-8-1 record into the road game in Denver.
So is there a Jack Adams jinx at work here?
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
So what's the problem with Stan Kroenke's hockey team?
- Mismanagement. Former GM Greg Sherman made a bunch of mistakes, such as dealing elite offensive defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Blues for Erik Johnson. The Blues also got Chris Stewart in that deal and Stewie proved handy for a while, any way. Joe Sakic hasn't done much better since gaining control of the hockey operation, losing key forwards Paul Stastny (free agency to the Blues) and Ryan O'Reilly (trade with Buffalo) and overspending on former Blues prospect Carl Soderberg in free agency. Also, Colorado is paying spare defenseman Brad Stuart $3.6 million as the seventh defenseman this season -- and his contract runs through 2017.
- Willful ignorance. Sakic and coach Patrick Roy cling to their old-school ways. They refuse to put much stock in the newfangled analytics. So they missed all the warnings that their 112-point team was due for a comedown due to poor puck possession numbers and high shooting percentages that were not sustainable.
- Lousy coaching. Roy favors a go-go offensive style, which leads to lots of entertaining losses in the brutally competitive Central Division. He has remained eerily upbeat while his team started terribly for the second season in a row. Sakic has had to assure the public that Roy really IS paying attention and realizes that the 'Lanche have been a mess.
read on plus more hockey topics...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Brad Stuart, a healthy scratch in all but two games this season, is on the Colorado books through 2017 at $3.6 million annually. Carl Soderberg, owner of one of the most head-scratching contracts in the league (five years, $23.75 million), had no goals and four assists through nine games while centering the third line.
Those two blemishes aren’t even the biggest failings of GM Joe Sakic and coach Patrick Roy.
Under their watch, goalie Semyon Varlamov and center Matt Duchene, two of the more talented players at their positions, are turning into no-confidence ghosts. Through six appearances, Varlamov was 2-3-1 with a 3.40 GAA and .890 save percentage. Duchene was 1-1—2, with 1 even-strength point, and an average 17:26 of ice time in nine games.
The combination of poor personnel decisions and subpar coaching is not doing Colorado’s talented players any favors.
many more hockey topics...
from Pierre LeBrun of TSN,
These are desperate times already for the Colorado Avalanche, who have labored out of the gates in the incredibly competitive Central Division.
At 2-5-1, the Avs are already six points behind the sixth-place Winnipeg Jets in the Holy Mama Central.
You never want to overdramatize things just eight games into a season, but the reality is the Avs cannot fall too much deeper. It has to turn now -- starting with games Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning and Friday night at the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I think we're all disappointed with the start, we were hoping for more, expecting more," Avs general manager Joe Sakic said over the phone from Tampa on Wednesday. "Also it's not time to sulk, it's time to find a way to get some wins together and get going. There's quite a few guys squeezing their sticks a little bit, trying to find a way to get going. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but I'm confident we've got a lot of guys that will start getting going and getting the puck in the net."
Confidence is shaken on a team that missed the playoffs last season after a breakout, Central Division-winning season in 2013-14. Mind you, their 39-31-12 record last season, good for 90 points, wasn't terrible, but in the Central Division? Last place.
"I'm not going to come in front of the media and say things that I don't believe," he said. "I believe right now it just needs to be a bit about or game management. If we could be just a bit better in some decisions that we make, these could be wins for us. I'm not going to go backwards and say, 'Aw, that's not good,' or, 'We're not playing well,' or, 'We're not doing this and that well.'
"We're doing a lot of good things. We're just right there. We need to win those third periods, we need to continue to play the same way. We need to manage our game a little bit better ... Is it a save, is it a penalty we should not take, is it a bad positioning of our F3 in the O-zone, is it missing a pass on the breakout?
"Maybe for some people it seems like we're far, but for us, we feel like we're really close to win some hockey games. I'd rather look that way, if you don't mind because I always try to be as honest, and I think our fans, and you guys communicate with them, are allowed to know and have an idea of what we think we're doing right and we're doing wrong....
-Patrick Roy, head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. Much more from Roy by Terry Frei of the Denver Post.
The Canes defeated the Avs 1-0 in OT.
Watch the only goal of the game below...
from Dominik Luszczyszyn of The Hockey News,
The Bruins, Blue Jackets, and Avalanche haven’t had great starts to the season, and it seems a lot of fingers are being pointed toward their goalies. Boston’s Tuukka Rask hasn’t been very sharp at all, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov has already fallen out of favor with head coach Patrick Roy, and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky has let in four or more goals in five consecutive games.
It’s an ugly start that’s a bit shocking considering their output over the last few years. In the two seasons prior, Rask has had a sparkling .936 save percentage at 5-on-5 (and a Vezina trophy) while Bobrovsky (a Vezina in 2013) and Varlamov (second to Rask in 2014) are at .928 and .927 respectively.
This year, Rask, Bobrovsky, and Varlamov are at .863, .830, and .843. To say they’ve been brutal is putting things lightly. At this point they might be better off using beach balls instead of pucks, but I’m not sure they’d save those either.
It’s not all their fault, though. Looking at the location of shots they’ve had to face paints a bleak picture of the defensive problems facing each team. It’s easy to point the finger at the guy in net, but the players in front of them haven’t done them any favours.
from Nick Groke of the Denver Post,
Through five games, Colorado's talented front line seems stuck in the muck. The Avs rank second-to-last in the NHL in shots per game, at 24.2, though the Avs are tied for eighth overall in scoring at 3.2 goals per game.
"If you're looking at our Corsi or Fenwick, our numbers aren't very good," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said, pointing to two statistics that measure shots taken. "I don't think it's because of the number of shots we're getting. It's more of the shots we're not taking."
Corsi is meant to estimate puck possession by totaling shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots. Fenwick does the same, minus blocked shots.
But Roy said you can stuff the numbers. The Avs' problem, he said, isn't puck possession. Their problem is being more aggressive toward the goal.
"We want to simplify our offense and put more pucks at the net," he said. "Right now, we're forcing way too many plays on our entries and we have to backcheck. And every team is backchecking hard now. Tracking is a big part of the game.
"Every team is coming back, collapsing. And if you try plays in the middle, like we have, your Corsi or your Fenwick won't look good."
No penalty on the play and Despres did not return to the game, Ducks only report is upper-body injury.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
A big reason why I’ve been so cool on the Avalanche under Patrick Roy: their blueline really doesn’t hold up well in comparison to the rest of the league, or even the rest of the division. It very much makes you wonder what some of these brilliant attacking forwards – Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog to name but a few – would do with a real touch of defensive competency on the backend. It would certainly help their transition game. It would certainly take some of the defensive burden off of them in their own zone. And it would certainly mean spending less time in the defensive zone, and more time forcing the opposition to spend meaningful minutes defending the run of play.
The good news for Avs fans: I don’t see the defensive situation as unsalvageable for two reasons. One, there are a bunch of interesting trade options around the market. These thoughts may percolate as the season progresses (hey, Dustin Byfuglien!) and are probably worth addressing at a later point in time, but if any team should take a gamble on fixing the backend, it’s the Avs. Again, I really don’t think this is a team that’s a ways off, but rather a club that’s simply being crippled by the absence of a couple of core pieces.
The second thought regards Tyson Barrie. To me, he’s one of the league’s more underappreciated players – a star in the making that’s been held back in part by Colorado’s mediocrity, and in part by maybe not being put in the best position to succeed.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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