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Kerfoot's improvement beginning to shore up one of Colorado's biggest weaknesses

AJ Haefele Avatar
November 17, 2018

When the season began, the Colorado Avalanche had a reliable top scoring line, an elite offensive defenseman, and a whole lot of questions. Fast forward to 19 games into the season and while it’s still too early to definitively answer any of those questions, several players are taking steps in the right direction to do just that.

Enter Alexander Kerfoot, who had an impressive 43-point rookie season after signing with the Avalanche following the completion of a prolific four-year career at Harvard, as one of those players. Coming into this season, Kerfoot was one of the players the Avalanche were hoping would take a big step forward towards addressing the scoring issue behind the Nathan MacKinnon-led top line. So far, so good.

Kerfoot is currently fifth on the Avalanche in scoring with 14 points (4g,10a) in 19 games played, providing the kind of consistent secondary scoring Colorado has been desperately seeking to complement their elite three-headed monster of a top line.

“You want to produce, you want to help the team out, and you want to be consistent with it but it’s definitely still early on in the year,” Kerfoot said, dismissing his current 60-point pace. “We haven’t even played 20 games yet so I’m not thinking about it too much. I’m just showing up to the rink every day and trying to help the team. Obviously, part of my role is to produce offensively but I know we have a lot of season to go.”

Another area Kerfoot has taken a major step forward recently has been the faceoff circle, where the Avalanche as a whole has badly struggled since the beginning of last season. Colorado finished dead last in the NHL in the dot with a truly abysmal 44.2%. They currently sit 30th out of the 31 teams with a 45.9% win rate on faceoffs. Kerfoot won 42.1% of his faceoffs last year but is now leading the Avalanche at 64.6% (!).

So, why the sudden spike in success?

“I really don’t know,” Kerfoot said. “I still wouldn’t say I’m a faceoff specialist or anything like that but I’m just trying to go in there with a bit more of a plan. I found that at times last year, in college and earlier on, I would lose the draw before I even knew what I was doing. I’m not giving away any free draws now. I’m going in there knowing what I’m doing a little bit more. The pace I’m on right now is a little bit ridiculous. I don’t expect to win draws like that every game. It’s nice to win some but I do feel like I’m producing a little bit.”

It was something he sought to work on regularly as he looked to find areas of his game that needed improvement.

“It’s hard to replicate in a game because they’re so specific in where you’re standing, positioning and all that, in a game,” he explained. “It’s hard to fully replicate that in practices or the offseason but I have been working on it and, yeah, it is something I do want to improve upon especially as a centerman. If you can be relied on to win draws, you get more ice time.”

Kerfoot’s recent success in the faceoff circle combined with his point production has given him some runway as he seeks to lock down the second line center job for good. If he can continue his run of form and keep finding success with faceoffs, the Avalanche might finally have an answer to one of their biggest questions.

News and Notes

  • Philipp Grubauer will get a chance to build off his strong performance against his former team as he is slated to start the first game on the upcoming three-game road trip. The Avalanche play the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening at Honda Center. The rest of the starts on the road trip have yet to be determined.
  • Injured Avalanche forward J.T. Compher practiced with the team in a non-contact jersey today and will not join the team for its game against Anaheim. Compher will hang back in Denver and do a couple more days of testing. If things go well with the testing, Compher could join the team in California ahead of its Wednesday tilt against the Los Angeles Kings.
  • Colin Wilson and Matt Nieto, who missed last night’s game with a lingering lower-body injury, did not practice today.
  • Head coach Jared Bednar spoke at length about Nikita Zadorov, who was a healthy scratch last night against Washington, did say Zadorov will get his chances to get back into the lineup and prove he belongs.

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