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Colorado Avalanche Performance Review: April

2019-04-26

DENVER - 6 points. That's what separated the Avalanche from a successful season and instead saw another campaign that has them go back to the drawing board this summer. The difference between celebrating history and asking what went wrong in a season where there was so much of the latter that it may be difficult to pinpoint what needs fixing first. And it all came down to 4 pivotal games in which the Avalanche went 2-2. Colorado finished the season 41-33-8 which represented an 8-win, 15-point improvement over last season.

Tomas Tatar and Boone Jenner finished off the season red-hot. Both players put up 6 points in the Avs' final 4 games. Tatar finished the season with 56 goals and 113 points, 72 of which came in burgandy and blue. Jenner's production took an uptick after landing here in a trade. The 25-year old tallied 25 goals and 69 points, 46 of which came in his second stint with the franchise. Colorado improved their goals-for this season by a whopping 98 goals. Tatar and Jenner were a big part of this, but a lot of the increase can be attributed to Colorado's youth. In his first full season with the Avalanche, Anthony Beauvillier contributed 33 goals and 65 points. Nick Schmaltz set new career highs across the board contributing 16 goals and 52 points. In addition, Colorado was able to lean on three rookie forwards for offence. Jesse Puljujarvi managed to collect 18 goals and 46 points in his first professional season. Pierre-Luc Dubois, taken one spot before Puljujarvi, had a fantastic debut as Colorado's present and future top-line centre. Dubois had 22 goals and 66 points while averaging 17:19/game playing in all situations. Jake DeBrusk was Colorado's top rookie. The elite LW set franchise records across the board for rookie production. DeBrusk recorded 29 goals and 80 points.

Colorado's special teams disappeard completely in April, which likely contributed to their record. The Avs were 0-9 on the power play and 9-12 when killing penalties. The power play improved by 2% compared to last season, but their penalty killing has fallen off a cliff. Colorado will look to improve both of these units this offseason, as taking a step forward next year will rely heavily on specialty teams.

The acquisition of Robin Lehner completely changed the direction of Colorado's season. The Swedish netminder struggled in April, but getting eliminated from the playoffs can take the wind out of a player. Overall, Lehner had a 16-7-3 record with a 3.04 GAA and .901 save percentage. While neither number is great, it represents an improvement in an area Colorado has typically struggled. Lehner effectively wrestled the starting job away from Semyon Varlamov. The Avs' incumbent starter went 24-23-3 this season, also posting a pedestrian 3.26 GAA and .889 save percentage.

2018-19 was an enormous step in the right direction for the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs found scoring and almost rallied to the playoffs after sitting in last place in the west. They also posted the worst goals against in GM Noga's tenure, however, so there is still areas that require major improvements. The Avalanche will say goodbye to Tyler Bozak, Kyle Turris, Brian Gionta, Nick Shore and Radko Gudas to retirement or free agency. There are also rumours a buyout is in store for Loui Eriksson. With so many veterans leaving the team in free agency, Colorado will once again lean on their youth in their quest for the playoffs. For Mile One Hockey, this is Sandy Bunns.