A lot of people thought the Colorado Avalanche would fall back to earth this season.
And then the Colorado Avalanche fell back to earth. By Feb. 14, with a 22-22-11 record, the defending Central Division champs were eight points back of a playoff spot.
However, after an 11-5-1 run in their last 17, head coach Patrick Roy believes the Avs have found their game again.
“We know we didn’t have the start that we needed,” Roy said, per Sportsnet. “We learned a lot this year that makes us a better hockey team. I’m very happy with the type of hockey we’ve played for the last month-and-a-half, if not two months. This is the type of hockey … we have to play for a full season.”
Of course, the big reason so many doubted the Avs was their possession stats. Based on score-adjusted Fenwick, they were the NHL’s fourth-worst team at controlling the puck last season, better than only bottom-dwellers Buffalo, Toronto, and Edmonton. The Avs’ success, according to their detractors, was tied largely to the brilliance of goalie Semyon Varlamov.
And that’s worth noting, because in their last 17 games — despite the impressive record — the Avs have actually been the NHL’s third-worst possession team, again based on scored-adjusted Fenwick. Only Toronto and Buffalo have been worse.
And yes, Varlamov has been excellent lately. Considerably better than he was earlier in the season.
Just a coincidence?
Look, we all know this topic has been run into the ground. A team’s Fenwick or Corsi isn’t everything. The Avs have some great young players. And it’s not cheating to having an elite goalie.
But when this is the company you’re keeping in a measure that’s proven incredibly accurate at predicting future success…
…is it really one that can be overlooked?