Statistical Analysis: How Peter Forsberg Will Improve the Colorado Avalanche

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Statistical Analysis: How Peter Forsberg Will Improve the Colorado Avalanche
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Let's imagine for a minute that Peter Forsberg really is healthy again. Forget all of the foot ailments, all of the groin issues, how old he is and the fact that at any time, he could be on the next plane back to Örnsköldsvik.

Say, for the sake of our imaginations, that Forsberg has replaced his chronically injured ankle with a bionic limb straight out of I, Robot, and has signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche, the team he is almost certain to play for if he does make an NHL comeback. Forget next season and beyond—what kind of immediate impact does "Foppa" make on the Avalanche? Let's just say this:

Godsend.

On a team with players falling left and right, Forsberg would bring an injury depleted offensive corps roaring back to life. He would provide stability on the left wing, the team's thinnest position. And he would re-energize a team that has lost its identity over the last few weeks. The team is in danger of falling out of the playoff picture, so Forsberg's arrival couldn't have come at a better point in the season.

While a full season may have worn out the 37-year-old former Hart Trophy winner, he joins the party just in time for the stretch run. A full tank of energy will give him the stamina he needs to finish out the season strong and make a respectable playoff run.

During his last comeback tour, with these same Colorado Avalanche, Forsberg played nine regular season games, and seven playoff games. In those 16 games, he scored a total of 19 points; 1.19 points per game is not bad for a guy with a gimp ankle.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

What must be factored in, though, is his availability to play. Forsberg has said himself that he feels much better than he did before his last comeback, but for the sake of argument, let's say he plays to that same potential.

Forsberg last came back with 16 games remaining in the 2007-2008 season for the Avalanche. Of those 16, he played in nine. That puts him in the lineup about 56 percent of the time. Stretching that out over the post-lockout years, Forsberg has played an average of 72 percent of his team's games, including the playoffs.

Currently, the Colorado Avalanche have scored 152 goals through the 2010-11 season, good for 3.17 goals per game. Accounting for all players who have been in the lineup for the Avalanche this season, the team has scored 406 total points through 48 games (including points scored by Scott Hannan before he was traded to Washington, and not including points scored by Tomas Fleischmann before he was traded to the Avalanche). That number is good for about 8.46 points per game accumulated by the entire team.

The table below shows Forsberg's recent stats, both for his last season in the NHL, and total for the post-NHL lockout years. Beneath that, the table shows remaining games for the Avalanche (based on an estimated Feb. 2 debut, as per Adrian Dater of the Denver Post), and projected statistics for Forsberg through the rest of the season, based on the same categories.

 

 

Last Comeback

Post-Lockout

Percentage of Games Played

56%

72%

No. of Games Played

16

144

Points Per Game

1.19

.889

 

 

 

Avalanche Games Remaining

31

31

Games w/ Forsberg in the Lineup

17

22

Points Accumulated (Based on PPG Above)

20

20

Addition to Team PPG Totals

.645

.645

Total Team PPG

9.105

9.105

 

(It must be noted that forward Tomas Fleischmann will miss the rest of the season with an injury, and his 21-point contribution will be missed. But it can be assumed that forward Chris Stewart, injured and out for 21 games earlier in the season will pick up the slack in Fleischmann's absence. Fleischmann played in 22 games this season for the Avalanche—20 of them were with Stewart out of the lineup.)

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

A quick stat check on the best teams in the NHL shows the Philadelphia Flyers with a total team point per game average of 9.00, and the Vancouver Canucks with an average of 8.85 team PPG. Boosting Colorado's team points per game average to 9.105 puts them above the top teams in the NHL.

The team already knows how to score goals—they demonstrated that during the first three months of the season. But if they were to return to that consistent output, it would most certainly lead to another trip to the playoffs this spring. Granted, there is that other subject of defense and goal-tending that play into a team's success, but as Mao Zedong once said, "The best defense is a good offense."

Forsberg has stated that he feels better this time than ever before: "I feel much better now than I did before, yes. That's a true statement," he said. "Before, my points were OK but my groins were always hurting because I wasn't in the right (skating) position."
(Read more from the Denver Post). The above projection above represent an impact based on his previous performance and health. If Peter can stay healthy and play in more games, he'll score more, and the team will improve to an even greater degree.

Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owner of the Colorado Avalanche, should be drooling at the aspect of No. 21 returning to the ice, because, as was seen over the weekend in Denver, Forsberg puts people into the seats.

Who knows, though, other than Peter himself?

He would instantly become the most recognized player on the team, in a state where the fans absolutely adore him. And if the projected on-ice impact shown above holds true, the Avs could be in for quite a stretch run.

But we're just imagining, of course.

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