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Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche: The Shame Spiral

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Watching this Avalanche team slowly turn Patrick Roy's hair grey is a joy. And now, the franchise is coming to a crossroads. Hopefully, Nashville starts Colorado's summer early by winning tonight.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Three games left, and nothing left to play for since the seeding is locked up. That's what the Nashville Predators are facing: a week without consequences of the games themselves. The only request: build momentum and stay healthy. That's the goal.

Then you have Colorado, who need to run the table and have Minnesota drop their games as well. So lucky us... the Avs are desperate and their coach is trying to push buttons inside the locker room through the media.

The Colorado Avalanche

It's the Avalanche. You just saw this team last week. And somehow this team has given Nashville fits as of late. How/why? Speed. Colorado is content to play for a breakaway and weather the opponent's storm. This strategy is mostly employed by overmatched soccer teams, not teams bumping up against the NHL salary cap ceiling.

Numbers? We got 'em.

Through 79 Games....

  • Colorado has allowed 3903 even strength registered shot attempts on goal, 200 more than anyone else. Worst in the NHL.
  • Colorado has an even strength shot attempt deficit of -827. Worst in the NHL. This deficit is 350 attempts greater than the second-worst team.
  • Colorado averages 32 shots allowed per game during 5 on 5 play. Worst in the NHL.
  • Colorado has a season deficit of shots during 5 on 5 play sitting at -291. Worst in the NHL.
  • Colorado has given up 1912 scoring chances during even strength play. Worst in the NHL.
  • Colorado's +/- with ES scoring chances sits at -460. Worst in the NHL. That's more than 100 chances lower than Vancouver (second-worst in the NHL).

As long as Nashville stays in front of the puck on defense... good things will happen. We hope.

The Nashville Predators

Just.... please don't get hurt. And if the third line wants to start scoring again, that would be cool.

One of the subplots with this team is the fourth line, and how Coach Laviolette might lean on the rookies as opposed to the old dreadnoughts Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom. To illustrate this, let's have a look at a standard usage chart. This is pretty basic, and what made sites like ExtraSkater and War-On-Ice popular. This one comes from Corsica.Hockey.

Top to bottom gauges the strength of the opponent, judged by ice time. For instance, the Rangers will be playing Rick Nash quite a bit more than say... Tanner Glass. So this gives an idea of whom they're playing against. Left to right gives you an idea of where they're starting on the ice, with the left side of the chart being in the defensive zone more often. This chart is only the fourth and third liners, so the scale is a bit shifted since most of these folks take defensive zone draws more than they start in the offensive zone. The color represents shot attempts, red means a deficit, blue means a positive count.

Again, this is a very standard report, and one we've looked at for years now.

Every year.

Different coaches.

Same results.

So despite winning most of his faceoffs and playing against lesser competition for most of the night, Gaustad is not exactly great at defense. If the player is winning the faceoffs and consistently being pinned in his own zone year, after year, after year... it may be time to look at the rest of his game. Thankfully, this decision is all but made due to his contract situation.

Also, check at how Mike Fisher's game improved since Laviolette got behind the bench.

Play Colton Sissons. Please. And bring back Austin Watson.

Reasons To Watch

  • Potential Roy/Duchene brawl.
  • Matt Duchene looks longingly over at the Nashville bench.
  • Nashville plays relaxed and has fun? Hopefully?

The Important Details

7 PM start. TV: FS-TN. Radio: 102.5 The Game