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Nazem Kadri will be one of the keys to the Colorado Avalanche playoff success

The NHL plans to play again by the end of the month – provided everything goes according to plan. There will be a postseason of 24 teams, with 16 teams playing in a best-of-five play-in round to see who makes it through the 16 playoffs.

The Colorado Avalanche will not participate in this opening round as they are a top 4 team. Instead, they will play a round robin with the other three teams in the Western Conference to determine the top four seeds. From there, the playoffs continue as usual. So while the round robin may be important in determining matches, the real question will be, what will the Avalanche need to do to get past their second round appearance from last season?

Obviously everyone knows that the Avalanche team’s life is like this beforehand Nathan MacKinnon. Your superstar center that is the focus of opposition every night. MacKinnon and his linemates Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel LandeskogHe cannot win four rounds alone. That became clear last season when the Avs had trouble finding some kind of deep hit at times. If MacKinnon didn’t leave, the team would be in trouble. The avalanche attempted to fix this by Nazem Kadri from the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s a perfect 2C player who can slide up and down in his lineup. KadriThe season has had some mixed results, but he will be the key to success in the Avalanche playoffs.

Kadri’s season

Kadri missed part of the time towards the end of the season so he only had to play 51 games. In those 51 games he scored 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points. This is almost a 58 point pace that would be close to his career high. The points weren’t an issue for the Avalanche, but what about Kadri’s game?

Let’s take a look at the percentage of shots (CF%) and the expected goals (xGF%). When Kadri was on the ice, the Avs controlled 50.3% of the shots and 46.1xGF%. Kadri finished 10th and 11th out of 13 qualified strikers in the respective categories. The Corsi number is okay, while the xGF% number is worrying. However, the Corsi number gets a little more worrying when you look at the Avs Total Corsi. The Avalanche were a total of 51.6CF% and 51.55xGF% teams.

The Avalanche controlled shots and scoring chances at a better rate while Kadri was on the ice next to the ice. Now there are a few factors to consider. The biggest thing could be that Nathan MacKinnon was on the ice for a few minutes, Kadri was gone. With a superstar playing in front of you, your underlying numbers can take a hit. While numbers aren’t everything, you want your good players to excel in every possible category. To see Kadri at least closer to the Avs striker average on these numbers would have been more encouraging.

The data is from NaturalStatTrick.com

Defensive numbers

The two biggest worries when looking at Kadri’s underlying numbers can be his on / off splits and his defensive effects. That reputation, which has been viewed as a “two-way road” lately, may not be fair to Kadri, but you want your 2C to be responsible for itself. If we look at the defensive effects of HockeyViz for Kadri, we can again see that the Avs were much stronger with him outside of the ice.

The large red areas around the net are places where the opponent uses many opportunities. When Kadri is on the ice, the Avalanche shots bleed from the front. However, when Kadri is on the bench, they don’t slack off much. To be successful in the postseason, all lines have to be rolling, but especially your top 6. If Kadri is even closer, the Avalanche will have a big advantage over the star players on the other teams.

If the Avalanche continues to bleed chances from the front while Kadri is playing, it can seriously affect their chances. Especially when dealing with teams that have multi-line concerns like the St. Louis Blues or the Edmonton Oilers to name a few.

Effects of Linemate

The other aspect to look at is NST’s on / off splits. We saw the Avs do better than Kadri was off the ice, but does he at least lift his teammates? His two most played strikers that season were Joonas Donskoi and Alexandre Burakowski. Burakovsky and Kadri together had 52.26CF% and 47.25xGF%. Burakovsky away from Kadri was 51.72% and 48.51%, respectively. While Kadri was 47.99CF% and 44.94xGF%. Donskoy was the opposite, Kadri was stronger than him in every category.

Some of this, in turn, may have contributed to Burakovsky playing with MacKinnon outside of Kadri. It’s not the end of the world that Kadri doesn’t make everyone he plays better better, that’s a difficult thing. But you want the gap to be narrower at times. If Kadri can again become someone who gets more results than his with Donskoy rather than Burakovsky, the Avs will become a much more dangerous team.

These figures make it clear that it is no coincidence that Jared Bednar is bringing Kadri to court between Landeskog and Val Nichushkin at the camp. Bringing Burakovsky upstairs to play with a game driver like MacKinnon creates a more optimal defensive line-up.

Reasons for optimism

Those underlying numbers make it look like Kadri has had a terrible season. In reality, he really didn’t. Kadri was a solid player and an upgrade from what the Avs had at 2C last season. Of course, you’d want Kadri to still perform at an even higher level to cement the Avs as an impressive team with a depth that can be difficult to achieve.

As mentioned earlier, the points are in Kadri’s favor. He’s always had a certain shooting talent and that has continued this season. His shooting rate was about 3% above career average, but even if that were cleaned up, he would have scored almost 20 goals. In addition, with its goal-over-replacement model, EvolvingHockey was the third most valuable Avs striker in the GAR and the fourth in the GAR / 60. This is exactly where you would expect him in the Avalanche striker rankings. His expected numbers are well below his actual results. While there is a little cause for concern, it should also be noted that Kadri has a lot of skill and it seems reasonable for him to exceed his expected results, at least to some extent.

Potential line mates

At least for the time being, Kadri runs alongside the Landeskog and Valery Nichushkin in practice. This line could do wonders for the avalanche for a number of reasons. For starters, it can allow them to be one of those multi-line teams that you really need to watch out for. Everyone knows Landeskog’s abilities, and we have just spoken offensively about Kadri and its impact. Those two bouncing the boards after being relieved of MacKinnon mean the opponents can’t take a break, they have to be on their heels.

The last part of this line Nichushkin, is particularly interesting as he was able to help Kadri in his weakest part of his game. Nichushkin is a very solid defensive striker and if he can help that line take responsibility for themselves they suddenly become a real threat in all areas of the ice. He’s one of Sakic’s top hires as general manager, and his presence allows the Avalanche to try a lot of different things.

This is a line almost every team should fear, especially considering that it doesn’t even attract the attention of the top flight. The three guys could very well work together and unlock Kadri’s full skills this postseason.

Why Kadri is the key

What makes Kadri so important to Avalanche success? He has the perfect package of everything that is needed. Playoffs often rely on players with depth to have a huge impact. However, they also rely on the best players to do the job. The Avalanche have a loaded top line that should beat almost everyone in the league. However, if the teams put all their efforts on this top line, then the second and third lines will need to be reinforced. Kadri can be just that for the Avalanche.

He has a history as a player who can add a solid offensive to a team, and while he will never be a Type 70 player, getting 45 points or so out of your 2C is extremely helpful. If he can do that and also wins his matchup in the second row, the prospects for a team are good. They made him do it, and when it does happen it is hard to argue against the avalanche for contenders in the west.

Mix up a very solid defense group along with some other pieces like Burakovsky, Nichushkin, and Compher and you get the Avalanche. A team that is prepared to go further in the playoffs than it has in years. To do this, they rely on Nazem Kadri‘It helps take some pressure off the top line.

And no, he’s not going to be suspended this postseason – if you speak to Naz this year, you can tell he’s learned and grown since he was with the Maple Leafs.

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