Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O'Reilly's Play a Bright Spot in Grim Situation

James CriderCorrespondent IApril 5, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01:  Ryan O'Reilly #37 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a shoot out goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Arena on April 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Usually when a team falls to 29th in the NHL, it's because it's players aren't playing well.

Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly has been an exception to the rule. In fact, his play has improved as the play of those around him has deteriorated.

The 20-year-old center, who's in his second NHL season, has primary played the role of defensive forward for the Avalanche over the course of his first 150 games. But injuries to key forwards Paul Stastny and Tomas Fleischmann have thrust O'Reilly into the role of scorer over the past three weeks.

So far, the results are promising.

Scoring only eight goals as a rookie in 2009-2010, and only five goals over the first five months of the 2010-2011 season, O'Reilly has caught fire over his last 14 games, scoring seven times.

Putting the puck in the net hasn't always been a foreign part of O'Reilly's game.

When he played for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, he scored 118 points in 129 games through two seasons with the club.


Stastny Done

Avalanche All-Star center Paul Stastny has been shut down for the rest of the 2010-2011 season due to a stress fracture in his leg.

Stastny had 22 goals and 35 assists in 74 games played this season.