Not many teams in the NHL have a line quite as strong as the first one of the Colorado Avalanche. Between Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon, the Avs have 99 points and 39 goals. That is the highest amount for any three individual players in the whole NHL right now. Their team’s 86 goals scored ranks second behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning, and their 30.38% success rate on the power play ranks second as well. But after them, there’s a steep drop off as the team lacks depth scoring.
The Colorado Avalanche sit near the top of the standings. They’ve received outstanding goaltending from both Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer too. Offensively, they’re pacing the NHL. The only real “weakness” that can be found is with the Avalanche depth scoring.
Depth Scoring an Area of Concern for Colorado Avalanche
Again, that top line has scored 39 of the team’s 86 goals so far. When considering the fact that at least one of them has had a hand in plenty of the team’s other goals (via assists), it’s easy to see how unbalanced the scoring is on this team. MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen alone have scored 45.3% of the team’s goals. Their 99 points represents 42.1% of all production too. Every forward after those three has under 20 points, and all are behind Rantanen and MacKinnon by double digits.
To be fair, all their opponents are aware of just how good that top line is. Despite being aware of the threat, it seems no one has been able to shut them down. While this is great for now, it might not last all year and definitely isn’t sustainable in a playoff series. When playing a team four to seven consecutive times, its going to be all but impossible for the Avs to depend as heavily on their top group.
That being said, the depth scoring problem may be solving itself internally right now.
Compher Solving Avs’ Depth Scoring Woes
Because an injury limited him to just seven games so far, many people aren’t yet aware of J.T. Compher. The 23-year-old forward, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres years ago in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, has six goals and an assist this season. That’s a point-per-game pace, reflected nicely by the fact that he’s got at least one point in all but one game he’s played too.
Compher Providing Sniper Threat to Avalanche Lineup
Fans were excited when Compher returned to the lineup this past weekend, but few expected him to factor in with three goals in his first two games back. Among those were two shorthanded goals and a game-winning-goal.
Colorado’s record with Compher in the lineup is a strong 5-1-1. He’s carrying the best advanced stat line of his career so far this year too. His 8.1% relative Corsi is a career-high, miles ahead of the -5.0% and 0.3% from the last two years.
The biggest difference, though, is just how he’s playing the game. Compher now utilizes as strong, accurate shot whenever he can. He’s been used mostly as a penalty kill specialist and fourth liner. If he keeps scoring, though, he’ll work his way up. However his chemistry with Matt Nieto and Vladislav Kamenev on that bottom line seems to be working well. They’re not a conventional fourth line, as they get plenty more scoring opportunities than what you’d expect. So far, that has really worked out in the Avs, and Compher’s, favor.
J.T. Compher Looks to Have Breakout Season
Should he stay healthy, this would only be his second full year in the NHL. He’s definitely aiming to break out in a big way this campaign, especially since it is a contract year for the youngster. With a previous career high of just 21 points, he’s poised to blow those numbers out of the water.
The Avalanche couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing they’d love more than to have a weapon capable of scoring 20-25 goals on their second line. Compher appears ready to take that step, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the organization.
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