Five-on-five play is a good indicator of assessing just how good or bad a hockey team is. While odd-man situations – 5-on-4, 5-on-3, 4-on-4, 6-on-5, etc. – can have profound impacts on a game, a majority of the hockey game is played with five skaters on either side of the puck.
And the numbers back it up. Since corsica began tracking five-on-five data back in the 2007-08 season, five Presidents Trophy winners – the best NHL team in the regular season based on record – have led the league in five-on-five goals-for percentage. Save for the 2008-09 San Jose Sharks, which finished 10th in the category, every Presidents Trophy winner has finished in the top four. Fifteen of 18 Stanley Cup finalists over that span have been in the top 10 at full strength.
Which makes sense why the Colorado Avalanche are a league-worst minus-37 when playing five-on-five this season.
A team not known to do anything well (minus-51 overall), the Avs are so far an outlier that the next-worst team is New Jersey, at minus-22. Colorado has scored 51 five-on-five goals compared with 88 allowed. Not very good.
While Colorado won its last time out, a 2-1 overtime win over the Islanders last Friday, the Avalanche are 13-25-1, sitting in the NHL’s basement with 27 points. The Avs began the season with a 9-9 record through 18 games, but the wheels have fallen off since, going 4-16-1 in 21 games going back to November 23rd. The team has had a pair of five-game losing streaks along with a six-game skid during that period.
Its rock bottom in Colorado. After winning 52 games in 2013-14, the Avalanche haven’t made the playoffs since and are a virtual lock for a third straight playoff DNQ, all but mathematically eliminated.