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Game 80 Preview: Avalanche at Canucks

Without Duchene, Parenteau, McLeod, and Tanguay the Avalanche look to clinch home ice advantage as they attempt to chase down the St. Louis Blues.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor


109 points

4th in the NHL in points

3rd in the NHL in ROWs

7-1-2 so far in what many consider the most difficult home stretch in the NHL

What a ride.

Now this game tonight is a perfect example of just how far we've come and just how much has changed. While we've suffered for the last 4-5 years, the Vancouver Canucks dominated the Northwest division and more-so, dominated the Colorado Avalanche. Tonight we get a picture of just how far one franchise has fallen and how another has risen to take its place. After being eliminated from playoff contention Monday night, the Canucks fired their GM and President Mike Gillis. Over the last calendar year, the Canucks have traded 2 starting goaltenders for a pile of scraps, watched their best 2-way center demand a trade, and missed the playoffs for the first time in years. Over that same period of time, the Avalanche brought a franchise legend into their front office, selected a superstar forward with the first pick in the draft, and set a number of franchise records in what can only be described as a franchise-altering season. If the Avalanche earn their 52nd win of the season tonight, they would not only clinch home ice advantage in first round of the playoffs, but they could also move into 1st place in the central division with a St. Louis Blues loss. 3 games and 2 points separate the Avalanche from a storybook worst to first season.

The Avalanche are going to be underdogs no matter who they face in these playoffs, but here's the thing. We've questioned this team time and time again. We've doubted the defense. We've doubted the Corsi. We've doubted the depth when Tanguay went down, then Parenteau, then Stastny, then Parenteau again, and then when we lost our leading scorer Matt Duchene. We've been scared out of our minds by the challenging 10-game stretch to end the season. The Avalanche have overcome every challenge, passed every test so far, and are now challenging for 1st place in the Western Conference. Now, at Game 80, Ray Bourque looks like a clairvoyant. He asked this team to live by the mantra "Why not us?" and as I look at the Avs' potential first round match-ups all I can think is "Why the hell not them?" Forget Chicago - let's win out and take on a wildcard team.

Avalanche Projected Lines:

Ryan O`Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon - Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - John Mitchell

Patrick Bordeleau - Marc Andre Cliche - Max Talbot

Ryan Wilson - Brad Malone - Paul Carey

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden - Andre Benoit

Semyon Varlamov

Canucks Projected Lines:

I could give you these lines and tell you about the ways that some of these Vancouver players have abused the Avalanche over the past few years but here's the thing: it doesn't matter anymore. If you want that information you can get it from our friends at Nucks Misconduct. Around here it's 29 up 29 down. The Avalanche have proven that they can beat anyone in this league no matter who is on the ice. Tonight they'll try to do it again, with a potential division title on the line.

Puck Drops at 8:00 PM MST, 10:00 PM EST.

Let's Go Avs!