Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Granato Didn't Learn From Quenneville

When the Avs hired Tony Granato to his second stint as head coach back in June, I was pretty skeptical about it. I can now safely say, after watching 20 mediocre Avalanche games this season, that I am unbelievably pissed off that Tony Granato is the head coach of this hockey team.

Here's a guy who sat through the Quenneville Era. An era that saw a bland offense, a careless defense, crazy line changes, barely any passion, and brutal special teams.

After Granato was hired, he promised Avalanche fans a more up-tempo offense which would play into the team's strength.
Granato promises to preach a more up-tempo style that will take advantage of the team's offensive depth

Instead, Avalanche fans have had to endure what may be the most boring Avalanche team since, well, ever.

The Avs have scored 50 goals this season, good for 14th in the West and 25th in the NHL. They've already been shut out twice and their 28.2 shots per game ranks them in the bottom half of the league.

Also a discouraging trend is the Avs ability to mount a comeback. From a guy who was supposed to bring more passion than "Coach Q," the Avs are 0-6 this season when trailing after the first period. This puts them in a league with Florida and Columbus when it comes to not being able to secure at least a point when given forty minutes to come back in a game. I guess we should all just turn off our TVs if they're losing 2-1 after the first tonight.

In terms of a careless defense, there is nothing to suggest that Granato has helped improve that. Turnovers in front of the net are to be expected at this point and the biggest offenders (Liles, Clark, and Foote) are supposed to be the leaders of the group. Only Clark is a plus player (+1) while Jordan Leopold is the worst at -7, followed by Hannan at -6, Foote at -5, and Liles at -4.

While generally excellent at blocking shots, the leader in hits is Ruslan Salei with a grand total of 30. That's not even good enough to be inside the Top 50 at the position.

Special teams haven't been much better. The Avs are ranked 21st on the power play, a significant improvement over the 30th ranked team from 2007-08, but I'll never understand why Sakic is playing the point, why Tyler Arnason receives time out there at all, or why there are games when the Avs go 0-8 on the PP without making any changes. The good news is, Ryan Smyth is in front of the net. Points for Granato, I guess.

The penalty kill, on the other hand, is simply dreadful. It's lucky to be ranked 20th in the league. The Avs kill just about 75% of the power plays when they're on the road and are one of seven teams to not have a shorthanded goal this season. Too often the Avs just skate around watching the opposition pass the puck until the backdoor is opened up and there is a wide open net waiting to be shot at. We've seen everyone from Stastny to Hejduk to McLeod to Wolski being used and the results are almost always the same. Pass to the point, pass back to the faceoff circle, back to the point, back to the faceoff circle, across the crease, score.

Adjustments clearly need to be made.

With 62 games left in the season, the Avs have a lot of work to do. Is Granato the right coach to do that work? Probably not. Think about this Avalanche fans. At the time of Granato's hiring, there were plenty of qualified coaches out there who could have had this team playing much better. To name two, Ron Wilson (Toronto) and Todd McClellan (San Jose) would have been fine choices. Or maybe Bob Hartley shouldn't have been fired so soon. But hey, I'm just rambling here.

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