How use of analytics is part of Colorado Avalanche's secret sauce: 'Numbers are unemotional'

Corey Masisak, The Denver Post on

Published in Hockey

The Avalanche just overpowered the Winnipeg Jets in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with a tenacious forecheck, a terrifying combination of skill and will in front of the net and … statistical analysis?

Colorado has assembled a roster deep enough to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons. The Avs have arguably the best core of world-class talent in the NHL, backed by a second wave of terrific players and an improved collection of depth after fortuitous work before the trade deadline.

But a significant part of the franchise’s secret sauce is how it has used analytics, with information flowing smoothly from the front office to the coaching staff to the players, to directly impact how the team plays on the ice.

“I think it’s super useful for us,” said defenseman Jack Johnson, an 18-year NHL veteran who admitted he had little desire to understand or use analytics earlier in his career. “They break it down and simplify it. They pretty much tell you, ‘Hey, we’re struggling on breakouts’ or ‘We’re giving up too many odd-man rushes.’ I think it puts it into a perspective for the players that takes away any opinion or emotion because numbers are unemotional.

“… It just puts the numbers in front of the players’ faces. You can’t really argue with the way they present it to us.”

Q: Did how the Avs use analytics help the club in its five-game rout of the Jets?


“Yes, absolutely,” Johnson said.

Q: Care to share any examples now that the series is over?

“No,” Johnson replied with a mischievous grin. “We knew there were certain things that they did well, and there were certain things that they struggled with. And we knew those were the things we were going to focus on and try to exploit.”

For the Avs, it’s not just the quality of information they receive from the four-person analytics staff, but how it gets communicated and circulated throughout the organization that helps maximize the franchise’s success.


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