Avalanche’s O’Connor Creates Scoring Depth

The Colorado Avalanche are on a three-game winning streak – and the driving force behind it likely isn’t one of the names you’d expect. Logan O’Connor has four goals over those last three games, launching him into a pretty good start to the 2022-23 season.

The surge has put O’Connor in a tie for third on the team for goals this season, trailing only Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin. Faced with a slow start and a couple crucial injuries, the Avs needed a spark to come from somewhere, and O’Connor has delivered. The five goals are just three behind his career-best total of eight from last season – and he’s done it in just a dozen games.

O’Connor Making Most of Chances

The four-goal stretch over the last three games has produced the longest goal-scoring streak of O’Connor’s young career. He’s doing it with great economy, as those four goals have come on just seven shots. All four are even-strength, and all of them came at pretty important parts of each game. This recent surge started in Sweden, where he connected for a goal in each game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL Global Series in Tampere, Finland.

Logan O'Connor Colorado Avalanche
Logan O’Connor, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The goal that started the streak was the opening salvo in a wild 6-3 victory for the Avalanche against Columbus on Nov. 4 – and it came just 1:36 into the contest. The next night, O’Connor scored again, stretching Colorado’s lead to two goals early in the second period to set up a 5-1 win over the Blue Jackets. But his biggest impression came on Thursday (Nov. 10) with his two-goal game against the Nashville Predators. With the score tied 1-1 going into the second period, he blew things open with two goals just 1:25 apart early in the frame. That set up a four-goal second period that launched the Avalanche to a 5-3 victory.

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O’Connor plays in a bottom-six role, and might never go on to log the massive minutes of a guy like Nathan MacKinnon. However, his recent push has caused an uptick in his ice time. He averaged an even 14 minutes of ice time through the first nine games of the season, managing just one goal and one assist. In the last three games, he’s seen that go up to an average of 16:56 per game – including 19:29 against the Predators, the second-most in his career.

Avalanche Needed O’Connor’s Push

Colorado has had a couple of huge names miss time with injuries in Nichushkin and Gabriel Landeskog, and were still searching for scoring consistency through the first nine games of the season. The Avs were just 4-4-1 over that stretch, and were still looking for someone to replace the points generated by Nazem Kadri last season. It was almost certainly going to be a collective effort, but getting production like that from a player like O’Connor is a definite boost.

Logan O'Connor Colorado Avalanche
Logan O’Connor of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center on November 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

O’Connor’s hockey history is wrapped in Colorado flavor. The 26-year-old from Texas played his college hockey at the University of Denver, helping the Pioneers win the national title in 2017. After going undrafted, he signed an entry-level contract with the Avalanche before the 2018-19 season, and became a mainstay with the NHL club during the 2020-21 campaign.

O’Connor has played mostly in a bottom-six role with the team ever since, but is now on track to have one of his most productive seasons – even if it’s early. His best season came in 2021-22 when he played 81 games and totaled eight goals and 16 assists. He’s already at five goals so far this season and is logging just about a minute more ice time than he did a season ago. Even though it might be tough for him to crack the top six, this recent performance bodes well for the forward. If they can get anything close to this consistency from him moving forward, the Avalanche might not have the depth problems they were worried about at the beginning of the season.

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