Heading into fateful Game 5, does Gabriel Landeskog possess more offensive magic for the Avalanche?
The 2018 incarnation of the Colorado Avalanche hockey club may only have 24 hours left in their season heading into Friday night’s Game 5 versus the Stanley Cup favorite Nashville Predators (the Avs trail the Preds 3-1).
But if the Avs are to escape Game 5 (7:30 p.m. MST, NBC Sports Network) and force a Game 6, it’ll likely come thanks to the duo of left-winger Gabriel Landeskog and center Nathan MacKinnon.
The duo, each in their second go-round with the Avalanche in the playoffs, have combined for 11 of the 37 “point shares” the Avalanche have accrued through the first four games of the series — 30 percent.
In comparison, 13 other Avalanche players combine for the remaining 26 point shares Colorado has accrued through the first four games of the series — an average of 0.5 Point Shares per player.
But what are point shares, and what do they teach us about this year’s Avalanche team and their short stint thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
The point shares advanced statistic was developed by Justin Kubatko of Hockey Reference in 2010 with the purpose of designing a metric to estimate a player’s contribution to their team in terms of the points they help to create. For a full breakdown of the statistic and the methodlogy behind it, visit: Hockey-Reference.com/about/point_shares.html
Kubatko modeled the statistic and its purpose after the more well-known baseball statistic known as “win shares,” developed by the godfather of modern advanced sports statistics, Bill James.
For baseball, James’ goal was to estimate the number of wins “created” by each baseball player. Kubatko’s statistical system differs from James’ baseball equivalent in that with Kubatko’s point share statistic, players can have negative values.
“I justify this by thinking about it in the following way,” Kubatko writes at Hockey-Reference.com. “A player with negative point shares was so poor that he essentially took away points that his teammates had generated.”
Which brings us back to this year’s Avalanche through four playoff games. The good news for the Avs is that through four games, the offense doesn’t seem to be the problem, as not a single one of the 19 Avalanche players who have skated thus far have earned negative point shares values.
In fact, Landeskog and MacKinnon have been downright offensive stars through the first four games, Landeskog amassing six point shares on the strength of the three goals and three assists in 87 minutes on ice while MacKinnon has registered three goals and two assists through 94 minutes on the ice.
Beyond that dynamic duo, four Avalanche skaters — defender Tyson Barrie, left-wing Matthew Nieto, right-wing Mikko Rantanen and defender Nikita Zadorov — each have three point shares. The most impressive of the bunch may be the left-winger Nieto, who has amassed three point shares in only 59 minutes on ice.
As for what will likely lead the Avalanche to a win on Friday night if they do indeed defeat the Predators in Nashville, offensive depth will be key. The Avalanche have at least one point share through this series from nine more players.
In comparison, the Predators have point shares from only 14 skaters, none of whom have accrued more point shares than Landeskog’s six (Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Colton Sissons and Austin Watson each have five point shares at this point in the series for the Predators).
For historical context, during their 23-game Stanley Cup championship playoff run in 2001, Joe Sakic led the Avs in playoff point shares with 26 over 21 games played and 452 minutes on the ice — a pace of 1.24 point shares per game. Thus far through this playoff run, albeit a much smaller sample size, Landeskog is at 1.5 point shares per game.
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