On Saturday, a tumultuous offseason for the Colorado Avalanche will officially end and the puck will drop to signal the start of their 2016-17 season. The Avalanche play the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Center.
For the first time since 2013, Patrick Roy won’t be patrolling the Colorado bench. Instead, journeyman Jared Bednar will coach his first NHL game.
There are plenty of questions, both about Bednar and this Avalanche roster. Will the team really place more emphasis on puck possession, where it was woeful under Roy? How will playing time be divided up at goalie between Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard? How will Colorado’s core players develop, and is there enough depth behind them?
To help answer those questions, we enlisted the help of the internet, which is a great or terrible place, depending on where you look. Here’s what it had to say:
The Colorado Avalanche are going to try to play faster hockey this year, if you haven’t heard. (You’ve probably heard.) Here’s what Bednar told NHL.com:
“I have a style of play that I think works in today’s game. I think we have to be an aggressive team. The game’s getting faster every day and I think you have to play an up-tempo style. You have to attack. And that’s not just offensively, it’s defensively as well.”
Bednar’s system will emphasize quick outlet passes to the forwards and north-to-south play, says NHL.com. That should help a Colorado defense that allowed 240 non-shootout goals last season, the sixth-highest mark in the NHL.
The Hockey News
THN doesn’t love the Avalanche’s chances of climbing out of the cellar in the Central Division. The biggest questions they seem to have are: A) Will the defense improve enough? And, B) Is the team too top-heavy?
THN notes that Colorado got woefully out-shot under Roy:
“Per corsica.hockey, the Avs finished last in the NHL in score- and venue-adjusted Corsi against per 60 at a pitiful 63.42 percent. They’ve ranked between 24th and 30th four straight years. They allow far too many scoring chances.”
They’re also skeptical about Colorado’s depth. At defense, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talent after Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Francois Beauchemin. At forward, Colorado has Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Carl Soderberg. But according to THN, Colorado’s bottom six forwards have the least combined value in the NHL. Ouch.
Mile High Hockey
SB Nation’s Colorado Avalanche blog sounds a little more optimistic than THN. MHH notes that even though things got ugly under Roy, the Avalanche only finished five and seven points out of the playoffs the last two seasons. They wonder if Bednar’s new system will be worth those handful of points Colorado’s needed to sneak into the postseason the last two years.
“Just about any breakout system would be more effective than Patrick Roy’s ‘No-forward-help-home-run-pass’ monstrosity and Avalanche goalies might see ten or more fewer shot attempts per game now that the defense is allowed to do more than stand in front of pucks in the slot.”
Ummm, yeah. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the folks at MHH were OK with a regime change.