Colorado Avalanche are a Defensive Team

The Colorado Avalanche are showing a completely different identity, as they trend towards becoming a defensive wall.

It’s still very early, but I seriously could not believe my eyes when checking where the Colorado Avalanche stacked up by possession numbers this morning.

First, the bad news: the Avs are dead last in Corsi-For in all situations. The team still needs to generate more shot attempts, as even low-quality shots have a better chance than no shot at all.

Now, the good news: the team has the lowest Corsi-Against in the league. It’s important to note that part of this is likely due to only playing seven games so far, but this is still quite remarkable, given the team had the worst CA last year.

This drastic shift can likely be attributed to Jared Bednar and Nolan Pratt’s new systems, which stress an aggressive defensive style. Rather than give opposing teams the perimeter shots while protecting the slot, the team is all about getting the puck back and moving it up ice through pressure.

Not to toot my own horn, but these numbers seem to confirm a point I made all the way back in my second-ever post: talent-wise, the Avalanche defense is not that bad.

Sure, GM Joe Sakic made a few moves in the off-season to acquire more depth defensemen, but in terms of talent, these acquisitions provided only a modest upgrade. The team’s early success in their own end proves that no individual could have saved them under the old system.

This defensive success exposes an issue that has oft been obscured in year’s past: shot production. Logically, the Avs should be shooting more if they’re not pinned down in their own end, but the numbers don’t depict that.

However, they did out-shoot Arizona and Winnipeg recently, and judging by the team’s play, they’re beginning to find offensive consistency. If they see similar success tonight against Nashville, we could see the team’s offensive talent begin to realize it’s potential.

Hopefully we see the offense elevate their contributions in the coming games. Until then, it seems the Colorado Avalanche have embraced the mantra of Gandalf when he fought the Balrog in Moria:

“You. Shall not. PASS!!”

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