The Colorado Avalanche’s third line is critical to getting the team on track with injuries
There is a story that has surrounded it Colorado Devessall throughout his season to this point: the lack of forward depth. An apt description to say the least. From his match against the St. Louis Blues, the last nine of the Avs’ forward group have only combined for 35 points. More than half of those points have come from the injured Valeri Nichushkin and Evan Rodrigues, so it’s safe to say the Avs’ depth is an issue.
Despite the lack of production, one line has shined in their time together. The Avs’ third line of Andrew Cogliano, Logan O’Connor and JT Compher has been the Avs’ most consistent line since this massive stretch of injuries. That’s a big surprise considering most consider O’Connor and Cogliano to be fourth-line tough guys. Not only that, but none of them are considered good playmakers, which could explain the group’s lack of production.
If we take a look at the lines underlying the numbers, we can see that they match the eye test. While not quite dominant, this line still controls the puck most of the time together. This group of three has played a combined 105 minutes at 5v5 and is positive in every major underlying category. So far they have a 54% Corsi for, 51% SOG for, 56% HD Chances For and most importantly a 100% goals for rate with four goals for and zero against.
Four goals in about 10 games playing together consistently isn’t spectacular, especially when you consider that two of them came from O’Connor in a game against the Nashville Predators. Considering Cogliano and O’Connor are playing over their heads, you’ll take it.
The real selling point of this line is shown in its underlying numbers. They possess the puck at a good pace and keep the other team off the scoreboard. The latter is one of the main reasons why we agree with the lack of production of this line, but the former is also important. This line constantly surrounds teams in their zone for minutes at a time. All three players on this line have smart hockey minds and are able to put the puck together.
This doesn’t usually lead to high-danger opportunities, but they keep the puck out of the other team’s hands and build momentum. It has become clear that this has given Jared Bednar a lot of confidence on the line. They often get minutes in crunch time and rarely fail to make life difficult for the other team.
The third line has not been the best of the Avs, but it has been the most consistent. Consistency is invaluable when dealing with the injury problems and struggles the Avalanche have endured.
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