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Analysis: Where is the problem?

Analysis: Where is the problem?The Colorado Avalanche remains poised to shock the Western Conference.

With a young, talented team that knows how to score, the only question now is when the team will take off. Losing a hard fought game 4-3 against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night was a disappointment, but the Avs showed that they are capable of scoring goals under any circumstance. That is the key to the Avalanche’s success, that is, their versatility and adaptability. That quality makes Colorado a team that cannot be counted out, even when down several goals.

Coming off of a difficult season in 2010-11, the Avs made significant personnel changes in the off season. While there was some doubt that the team could meld together quickly and be competitive in the challenging Northwest Division, the Avs have proven that they have what it takes to be competitive. With their larger defensive corps, more skilled goaltenders (including Stanley Cup winning veteran J.S. Giguere), and powerful forwards, the Avalanche certainly have the potential to be a playoff contender in spring of 2012. Already, the Avs are the top power play team in the NHL, and that is a statistic that does not lie.

With the team’s viability well established, there is room for improvement. The team has struggled to score goals at home, and often has to play catch-up because they fall behind in the first period. Couple that with goaltending that has been less than perfect, and it is clear to see why the Avs are currently 8-8-1. While it is the author’s personal opinion that goaltenders should play tighter in the net, that is not the main area addressed in this article. The point is the Avalanche need to do a better job of screening the opposing goaltender. Screening the net hampers the goalie’s ability to see the puck and developing plays, the strength that sets good net-minders apart from average ones. The Avalanche have not consistently impaired opponents goaltenders, and that has harmed their ability to win games.

As is seen in the image above, screening the net is an effective tactic that is too little utilized. The Avs are an effective passing and shooting team, and putting the puck on net is vitally important, but when facing an elite net-minder in the opposing net and an enemy defense that gets low in front of the net, passing and shooting are not enough. Screening and/or crashing the net can give the Avs goals when an elite goaltender makes conventional shooting ineffective.

The Avalanche are not losing games by a wide margin, and so many games are so close, that a simple change in the way the Avs attack the net can yield large benefits. When the Avs face the Pitsburg Penguins on the Tuesday, they can expect a solid performance from Fleury. Effectively screening the net could be the difference between a win and a loss. 

-by Nicholas Daviscourt-, Worldwide,
14/11/2011 - 12:36


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