Is Colorado Avalanche’s low ranking in NHL penalty kill worth the fuss?


Nineteen minutes into the game, the Avalanche penalty kill was 19 attempts into the season. This time, on the 20th, Colorado had everything working in its favor to flip the script.

The Avs had dominated the first period in Las Vegas on Saturday, with a 1-0 lead and 10 shots to three. It was a near-perfect start 24 hours after what coach Jared Bednar described as a “sloppy” performance. Conquering a developing Achilles heel would be a cherry on top.

Instead, another breakdown ensued. A pass slipped between Avalanche veterans Andrew Cogliano and Erik Johnson. Jonathan Marchessault was undefended just outside the crease. Easy goal.

As the puck popped out of the net, Cogliano slapped it against the boards in frustration.

Entering that intermission, the Avalanche had allowed nine goals in 20 power plays — a league-worst 55% penalty kill rate.

The central question of Colorado’s slow start (by its Stanley Cup standards) is whether those stats matter yet.

“For me, it’s upsetting, to be honest, just the ranking of it,” Cogliano said before the team departed for Vegas and a six-game road trip. “Some guys don’t look at that. I do. I take a lot of pride in that. … I look at the penalty kill ranking and it (ticks) me off.”

By the end of Saturday night, things were looking up. The Avalanche silenced Vegas’ last three power plays. After six games, Colorado (3-2-1) is now 60.9% on the penalty kill, ascending to second-worst in the NHL. It will remain a focal point in New York this week, starting at 6 p.m. MT Tuesday when the Avs face the Rangers (No. 11 in power play).

“It’s lack of execution or a failed clear or not pressuring in the right spots,” defenseman Josh Manson said. “Some opportunities where we could have kept the puck out of a person’s hands. But getting more pressure mainly. Dictate where the puck goes.”

Is it cause for legitimate concern or an anomaly? The season is only six games young. Look at Colorado’s last six games of the 2021-22 season.

The Avalanche went on the penalty kill 19 times in the Stanley Cup Final, killing 89.5% of chances. When Tampa Bay had a man advantage in the series — nearly 38 combined minutes — it only outscored Colorado 2-1.

The Avalanche neutralized 80.4% of power plays in 20 playoff games.


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