Typically, defensemen account for 40 percent of a hockey team's skaters in even-strength situations. While defense is the first thing in those players' job description, teams can't win regularly if they don't get some offense from the blue line. The Avalanche's percentage of goal scoring from its defense 10 games into the season? Zero.
The Avs are the only NHL team without a goal from a defenseman. If the forwards were scoring a lot of goals, it wouldn't be such a glaring issue. But with three of their top nine forwards from last season currently not with them, the Avs desperately need some offense from the blue line.
"There's no question, we need some offense from the back end," said coach Joe Sacco. "We have a couple guys we think are capable of contributing offensively for us. Some of them, we don't expect much offensively, but certainly a few guys we do."
Erik Johnson and Matt Hunwick are at the top of that list.
Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NHL draft by St. Louis, came into the league with a reputation of a guy who could get you 40 to 50 points in a season. So far, his career high is 39 points for the Blues in 2009-10. He had only four goals and 26 points in 73 games last season, and he has one point (an assist) in 10 games this season.
Johnson has played pretty well defensively at even strength for the Avs and has 19 shots on goal. But his quarterbacking of the power play — which ranks last in the NHL — has not produced points.
"He's one of those guys, yeah. We need some offense from E.J.," Sacco said. "And a guy like Matty Hunwick, he's got some speed and has to get up in the play — and he does. But we've got to create some offense back there."


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