The list of teams the Avalanche may face in the first round is currently at six (Detroit, San Jose, Minnesota, Anaheim, Dallas and Calgary). Although several of the matchups are a remote possibility at best, it's still a bit to early to start planning for the first round series. So, I thought I'd take a quick look at how we fared against the 9 other teams still with a mathematical chance at making the postseason in the West.
Detroit: The Avalanche were a woeful 0-4 against the Wings and were outscored 11-2. The 2 came in one game - the first meeting; the last 3 games were all Detroit shutouts. The Avs were 0-11 on the PP while the Wings were 2-13 (15.4%). The Avs were an amazingly bad 39.8% in faceoffs against (80-121).
San Jose: The Avs were 2-2 against the Sharks, with each team going 1-1 in their own building. The Avs outscored San Jose 13-9, mostly due to a 6-goal outburst way back on October 7th. We were 4-17 (23.5%) on the PP while the Sharks were 4-19 (21.1%). Once again, we were lousy in the faceoff circle, winning just 42.2% of the draws (92-218). Keep in mind, though, that our most recent game against San Jose was on Feb 6th - they have, as you may have heard, improved substantially of late.
Minnesota: With a game still remaining, we're 2-4-1 against the Wild - the only NW team we haven't won the head-to-head battle against. Minnesota has a 19-15 scoring edge in the series. The Avs were a poor 5-30 on the PP (16.7%) while the Wild were a terrific 8-24 (33.3%). The Wild have a PP goal in 6 of the 7 games so far. That's not a good sign. The Avs actually are winning the faceoff battle so far, 201-194 (50.8%).
Anaheim: The Avs were 1-1-2 against the Ducks this year, with the 1 win coming on a 1-0 shutout on March 6th. The Avalanche scored 1 goal in 3 of the 4 games, and were outscored 7-5 on the season. The Avalanche scored no PP goals against the Ducks (0-15). The Ducks were 2-14 on the powerplay (14.3%). The Avs won 47.8% of the faceoffs (102-111).
Dallas: This series had a decided home-ice tilt. The Avs won both games in Denver, while the Stars crushed us both times we played in Texas (the two losses in Dallas were among our worst outings of the season). Dallas outscored us 13-8, including 1 shutout. The Avs scored just 1 powerplay goal (see a theme yet?), going a depressing 1 for 14 (7.1%). The Stars were at 41.7% effectiveness (5 for 12). The Avs won 44.7% of the faceoffs (84-104).
Calgary: The Avs were 5-3 against the Flames, with 2 wins coming in OT and 1 in a shootout. The Avs outscored the Flames by a slim 21-20 margin. The Avalanche had 39 PP opportunities against a roster of cheap shots, but could only convert 5 times (12.8%). The Flames, however, were even worse - 3 of 32 (9.4%). The faceoff battle went to Calgary, 250-213 (Avs won 46%).
Nashville: Like the San Jose series, each team went 2-2 with a win at home and a win on the road. Both losses to the Preds, though, were shutouts. Nashville outscored us 10-5. We scored no PP goals against Nashville in 13 tries. They scored 3 in 14 tries (21.4%). Faceoff battle went to Nashville 102-111 (47.8% for Colorado).
Vancouver: We, um, did well against the Canucks this year, going 6-1-1 with 1 shootout victory. We outscored the Canuckleheads 28-17 and had a PP goal in 7 of the 8 games (7 for 33, 21.2%). The Canucks were also successful with the man advantage, going 7 for 35 (20%). The Avs had a slim faceoff advantage, 216-212 (50.5%).
Chicago: We were 1-2-1 against the pesky Blackhawks and were outscored 12-11. We were just 11.1% effective on the powerplay (2 for 18) while the Hawks were just 5.9% (1 for 17). Chicago had a huge faceoff advantage, 117-86 (a dismal 42.4% rate for the Avs).
So, there you have it. Unfortunately, there's no way for us to play the Canucks in the first round. The most likely opponents for us are Calgary and Minnesota. Of the two, Calgary is the team we've had the most success against. I personally think we'll be up against Minnesota. Really, every game against the Wild was close, with the one exception being a 4-1 loss on November 18th that was nowhere near as close as even that lousy score indicated. The remaining 6 games were all essentially 1-goal games (3 were 1-goal games, 2 involved a late empty-netter and 1 had a late PP goal to ice it). While the Wild had the advantage, the Avs were close to winning in many. How close? Maybe this close.