Game 1 Preview: Avalanche vs. Wild

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Define your meaning of war

To me it's what we do when we're bored

I feel the heat comin' off of the blacktop

And it makes me want it more

Because I'm hyped up out of control

If it's a fight, I'm ready to go

I wouldn't put my money on the other guy

If you know what I know that I know

It has definitely been a long time coming. Fans of the Avalanche have suffered deeply for years, forced to pick another team in April to support. While it hurt, however, it netted the Avs some pretty valuable assets in Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon. Those draft picks have elevated Colorado's offense, becoming significant pieces in a Cinderella season that saw the team go from the gutters of the league to a division champion.

There's no love lost between the Avalanche and rival Minnesota Wild. It's going to make for a chippy series, as chippy as the teams' fans have already become. When you have your enforcer already saying he hates this team, you know things will be interesting.

On ice, the teams match up well, though (homerism aside) the Avs do have the advantage. The speed of Colorado could force a slow, deliberate Wild into mistakes. A quick transition on a steal or turnover can spring quick feet for the Avs, with Minnesota caught flat-footed. However, forcing Colorado to defend in the corners would certainly favor the opposition.

The key to this series could very well be special teams. You've got a stellar power play by Colorado, ranking in at 5th on the regular season, compared to a 16th ranked Minny. Fortunately for the burgundy and blue, their dismally placed penalty kill of 24th is actually 2% more effective than the Christmas elves.

In the end, the Avs can score goals, while the Wild aren't so good at it. If Colorado can activate that offense, the game is theirs to take.

Game starts at 7:30 pm MT and can be seen on TSN and CNBC.

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