Roughly midway through the second period of the Colorado Avalanche’s 6-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, veteran winger Blake Comeau found himself in a rare position for an Avalanche player. He had a golden opportunity to score.
Comeau was on a breakaway, all alone with Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Then he did something baffling: He decided to pass the puck backward to Nathan MacKinnon. The pass missed its mark, and Colorado didn’t even end up mustering a shot on goal in the sequence.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar hit the nail on the head after the game when he said, “That one play probably sums up a littlest bit about what’s going on.”
Bednar’s group is having a tough time scoring the puck this season. As of Monday, the Avalanche ranked dead last in the NHL with a 1.92 goals-per-game average. That’s 0.3 less per game than the 29th-ranked New Jersey Devils, who are scoring 2.22 per contest. It’s also the third-worst goals-per-game average of the last 15 years.
The chart above depicts the worst-scoring NHL team for every season, starting in 2001-02. Only the Buffalo Sabres, who averaged 1.83 goals per game in 2013-14 and 1.87 goals per game in 2014-15, have fared worse than the Avalanche have so far in 2016-17.
Finding the back of the net has been a massive struggle this season for the last-place Avalanche. They’ve already been shut out 11 times in 64 games. Two of those shutouts have come in Colorado’s last four games.
The Avalanche do a poor job of generating scoring chances. They rank 26th in the NHL with 28.1 shot attempts per game and are 24th in even-strength Corsi For Percentage — defined as the total percentage of all shots attempted in a game by a team — at 47.88 percentage.
When those rare opportunities do present themselves, no team in the NHL is worse than the Avalanche at finishing them. Colorado is converting just 5.93 percent of all its shots on goal into actual goals this season. Washington, by contrast, scores on more than 10 percent of its shots on goal, per Corsica.
Comeau’s gaffe Saturday was emblematic of his team’s struggles to find the back of the net this season. Good scoring scoring chances don’t come around for the Avalanche very often. Even when they do, the Avalanche keep finding new ways to mess them up.
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