Peter The Great: A statistical look-back at the greatest Colorado Avalanche playoff skaters ever
As the Colorado Avalanche are set to begin their 2018 playoff run on Thursday, here’s a reminder from Avalanche playoff past that a little toughness goes a long way.
Toughness like that of Avs legend Peter Forsberg. The National Hockey League Hall of Famer never had a negative plus-minus rating, and he seldom backed down from conflict and pressure-packed moments on the ice. Especially in the playoffs.
The Avs are scheduled to travel east to play the top-seed and Stanley Cup favorites, the Nashville Predators, in a Western Conference Playoff matchup at 7:30 p.m. MST.
The Avs are making the trip to the playoffs after posting their worst record in franchise history last season. It’s been four years since the Avalanche made the playoffs, and a decade since the Avs made the conference semifinals, which the Avalanche would accomplish with an upset series win versus the Predators.
That 2008 Western Conference Semifinal appearance for the Avs would historically prove to serve as the exclamation point on a dominant first dozen years for the Avalanche franchise in Colorado after the Quebec Nordiques relocated to Denver in time for the 1995-96 season. From the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs through the 2008 playoffs, the Avs reached at least the conference semifinals nine times, including six conference finals appearances and two Stanley Cup championships — in 1996 and 2001.
Those 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche teams were loaded with a who’s-who of National Hockey League legends, including Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy and Hall of Fame skaters Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque.
But it’s another Hall of Fame member of those 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cup championship teams, the tough-as-nails center and offensive star Forsberg, who ranks as the best Avalanche playoff skater of all time according to the statistic “plus-minus.” And by a mile.
Plus-minus is a statistic that gauges how many goals, above or below zero, a team scores relative to their opponent while a specific player is on the ice. When an even-strength goal or shorthanded goal is scored, the plus–minus stat is increased by one for those players on the ice for the team scoring the goal and decreased by one for those players on the ice for the team allowing the goal. Power play and penalty shot goals are also excluded from the stat.
In his playoff career with Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, Forsberg played in 2,849 shifts and one second shy of 1,829 minutes on the ice. Those numbers rank Forsberg fourth and fifth respectively for skaters in franchise history, behind the likes of Adam Foote (4,159 shifts and 2,957:25 minutes) and Sakic (3,868 shifts and 2,587:32 minutes). For comparison’s sake, Roy manned the net for the Avs in the playoffs for 8,245:48 minutes from 1996 through 2003.
Forsberg does rank well behind Sakic over his entire career in playoff goals scored for the Avs (84-58). The 58 goals put Forsberg in second all-time for Avs playoff goal scoring, a spot he resides in behind Sakic for assists (104-101) and points (188-159) as well.
But Forsberg ranks well ahead of Sakic in the plus-minus statistical category: 50 to -2.
And for his career, Forsberg finished with an overall career rating of +238.
Talk about tough to beat.
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