Stanley Cup Playoffs Team Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Regular Season Record: 42-20-8 92pts (2nd place Central Division & Western Conference)

Before the NHL season was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Colorado Avalanche was having another strong season with the young and talented core that they have.  Now that the regular season is over, the Avalanche finished the regular season with a 42-20-8 record for a total of ninety-two points.  The Avs finished second in the Central Division and third overall in the Western Conference.  They will be playing in the Round Robin determining their seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.    On special teams, the Avs ranked nineteenth on the power play (19.1% success rate) while their penalty kill ranked thirteenth (81.4% success rate).  Colorado ranked third overall in the National Hockey League in goals for by scoring 236 goals.  Defensively, the Avalanche were really good (190 goals against) as they were one of eleven teams to not reach the two hundred goals-against plateau.

 

The Avalanche even survived injuries to several of their key players such as Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, and goaltender Phillipp Grubauer.  The only Avalanche player whose health is still a mystery is forward Colin Wilson who has been out of action since October with a lower-body injury.  It was determined on the first day of training camp that Wilson is “not fit to play” and has been left off of the training camp roster. I think it’s safe to say Colin Wilson won’t be playing in the playoffs. Whatever injury he has certainly is not good and is taking a very long time to recover from. Otherwise, the Avalanche are in really good health and are looking to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in these playoffs.  They obviously can score with names like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and captain Gabe Landeskog.  Also, the Avs have very solid secondary scoring in Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and bottom-six depth with forwards like JT Compher, Joonas Donskoi, Tyson Jost, Valeri Nichushkin, and Matt Nieto.  Defensively, the Avalanche owns one of the best defensive corps in the league led by young star Cale Makar (12g-38a-50pts +/- 12) who arguably could be the favorite to win the Calder Trophy this year as the NHL’s top rookie.  If you remember, Makar burst onto the scene in last year’s playoffs right out of college and made an immediate impact.  Sam Girard, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov, and veteran Ian Cole have also made this defensive group very successful as well.

 

Playoff outlook for the Colorado Avalanche

The sky is the limit with this team.  When you watch the Avalanche they are very young, fast, and are highly skilled.  It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see them go all the way and win a Stanley Cup.  However, I do have two concerns for them.  My first concern is their special teams.  Special teams are very important if you want to win a Stanley Cup.  The power play in particular needs to be and should be better with the skill that they have.  The penalty kill was solid but will need to be even better if they want to make a long run this postseason.  My second concern is goaltending.  Phillipp Grubauer has faced some inconsistency in his game and the injury bug this season.  Grubauer, in particular, suffered a lower-body injury during the Stadium Series game back in the middle of February.  Pavel Francouz has played very well this season and filled in very nicely while Grubauer has been out of action.  Francouz has shown more consistency this season than Grubauer.  However, Grubauer was settling in and playing very well before his injury.  The question of who starts the playoffs for the Avs will have to be answered soon.  Overall, I see great things for the Avalanche as long as they come together as a team, play for each other, get great goaltending, solid defense, and their special teams take it to the next level.   They very well could be sipping champagne out of the Stanley Cup by October.

 

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