Let's be honest. Last year was a nightmare for the Colorado Avalanche.
They finished dead last in just about every statistical category, including the one that really matters: standing points. The team was outclassed and outplayed at every turn, and the only silver lining was the idea that in 2017-18, there was nowhere to go but up.
And gone up they have. Saturday's game against Minnesota marked the midway point of the season. Not only did the Avs find themselves in a wild card spot, they're also on pace to finish the season with nearly double their points from last year. Bolstered by an elite top line and a slew of young players, everything about this team is a breath of fresh air. Denver pro hockey is fun and competitive again, and the future is finally looking bright.
But that's not to say that everything is perfect. Far from it.
Watching the Stanley Cup grace the Pepsi Center ice on Milan Hejduk night was a stark reminder of how far this franchise has fallen. Instead of talking about deep playoff runs, the idea of just reaching the post-season has seemed largely inaccessible for almost a decade. While the Avs' most recent improvements are impressive, this young and developing roster has an abundance of areas to address before they're able to take that next step.
As we head into the second half of the year, it's worth taking note of how far this team has come, as well as how far they still need to travel.
[caption id="attachment_411333" align="aligncenter" width="1177"]General math notes: Each grey line and matching color tint represents one standard deviation from league average. The numbers are not score/venue adjusted, due to different adjustment methods between source sites. Sources include Hockey Reference, Natural Stats Trick, Corsica, Hockey Viz, Sean Tierney's Tableaus, and when there was no way around it, NHL.com. All data was current on Sunday, January 7th prior to that evening's games. [/caption]