Game 3 @ MIN: The Aftermath

Before Game 3, Minnesota coach Mike Yeo tasked Matt Cooke with being a difference-maker, so mission accomplished, I guess. Following his attempt to disintegrate Tyson Barrie’s kneecap, Cooke has been suspended for 7 games, which seems reasonable to me though I’ll confess to hoping for a heftier deterrent for a player who ends more seasons than the summer solstice. It could have been worse - he was headhunting Nathan MacKinnon earlier in the game - but if karma exists at all, that should remove him from the playoffs and his first five games in October.

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Game 2 vs MIN: You’ve Gotta Be MacKiddin’ Me

Tonight’s lead-in was going to gush over how Nathan MacKinnon is going to become a generational, gamebreaking talent in this league, but I quickly backspaced because – surprise, surprise – it’s already happened.

He was electric on a level few can match, all acceleration and power and deception and sheer force of will. After an opening ten minutes controlled by the Wild, he bulled past their entire team for a highlight-reel goal, stealing momentum that the Avalanche never relinquished. No matter who Mike Yeo threw out to contain him, he generated scoring chances like it was as simple as breathing. He was a force of nature, untouchable and transcendent. This was Nathan MacKinnon’s game, and the Wild were just playing in it.

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Game 1 vs MIN: Crush Minnesota

When I wrote my last post here, the Avalanche had a >99% chance of facing the Chicago Blackhawks in their opening playoffs series. As the astute reader may have observed, that is no longer the case. Following a flat-out incroyable 8-0-1 stretch, and buoyed along by an equally impressive collapse by the St. Louis Blues, our boys in burgundy and blue have claimed the division title and instead secured a matchup against the Minnesota Wild.

And boy, do I hate the Minnesota Wild.

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Game 76 vs NYR: Beat Chicago

Tyler Dellow recently made an excellent and brief explanation of why Corsi matters – success that defies possession metrics is very likely to be unsustainable over a large span of time. Corsi is predictive; although any given season will have outliers, a team that prospers despite bleeding shot attempts is expected to drop off as the bounces stop going their way. Over the long term, a team will be about as strong as their possession numbers indicate, and good teams have started realizing this.

I’ve written about why the Avalanche have been outperforming expectations, but there’s still plenty of evidence that the team is built on ridiculous goaltending and winning an unsustainable percentage of close games. Avalanche fans tend to cite shot quality as a counterpoint (and I’ll delve deeper into this in a future article) but a look at shot location indicates that this is more likely to be a weakness than anything else.

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Game 68 vs OTT: Advancing Stats, Part II

After an unexpected hot start, my blogging activity has finally regressed to its mean of zero. Sure my post percentage peaked for a while, but you could tell from my career average that it was completely unsustainable and due to fall apart. Ladies and gentlemen, advanced stats!

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Game 42 vs CAL: Erik Johnson Should Be On Your Olympic Team

I’m going to cut to the chase here – Erik Johnson has been one of the best defensemen in the NHL this year and it is unfathomable to me that he missed the cut for Team USA. Snubs for other players have been discussed at length, but outside of Avalanche Nation, very few people are talking about Johnson’s candidacy – which is an absolute shame, because his game has reached some incredible heights over the past 12 months.

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Game 23 vs STL: Olympic Names

I was thinking of doing a quarter-season review earlier, but my poor pattern recognition failed to remind me that about a hundred other writers would be using that exact lead-in. So I’m doing things differently this time – rather than put in the effort to produce creative articles, I’m going to take a clichéd idea and undercut everybody else by writing about it first. The world of hockey blogging is a cutthroat place! This time, we’ll examine who’s in and who’s out among the Avs’ Olympic candidates from top to bottom, or at least until I get bored. Is this what a journalism high feels like?

It surprised me how up-and-down Canadian the roster is – Don Cherry would be proud! AHLer Markus Lauridsen has a contract with the the parent club and would probably make the Danish team had they qualified for Sochi, but he’s our only player hailing from a lesser hockey nation. As for our Russian, Swede, and handful of Americans, they should all be right in the mix for Olympic roster spots – with the lonely exception of Nate Guenin, who will have to deal with the entire team’s smack talk through the break.

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