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Avalanche clinch Central Division

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Can you believe this shit?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I have a confession: I'm chowing down on some crow pie right now. In December, I said in a few interviews that there was no way the Avalanche would get higher than 3rd in the division. "Catching St. Louis and Chicago just isn't possible." Given what's happened the past two months, I'm tempted to go on record as saying the Avs have no chance in hell lifting a certain hunk of medal in June.

Regardless of my conservative expectations for the Colorado boys, the team has literally gone from worst to first, topping their new division with the Blues' loss to the Detroit Red Wings today. The position in the standings sets the Avalanche against the Minnesota Wild in the first round. It's not the first time the teams have faced one another in the playoffs, and I think we all can agree we hope that it fares more like the last time they played in 2008.

The NHL has released the first round playoff schedule. The Avs and Wild will start their series on Thursday, April 17th, in Denver.

Date Time (ET) #1 Colorado vs. #4 Minnesota Networks
Thursday, April 17 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado CNBC, TSN
Saturday, April 19 9:30 p.m. Minnesota at Colorado NBC Sports Network, TSN
Monday, April 21 7 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota NHL Network U.S., TSN
Thursday, April 24 9:30 p.m. Colorado at Minnesota CNBC, TSN2
*Saturday, April 26 TBD Minnesota at Colorado TSN
*Monday, April 28 TBD Colorado at Minnesota TSN
*Wednesday, April 30 TBD Minnesota at Colorado

TSN

* If needed