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Morning Flurries: Avalanche given some gifts in the West

On an off night for Colorado, the rest of the Western Conference fell in their favor

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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche, as of the slate of games for March 1st, sit just one point out of the second Wild Card spot.

The bad news is that the two teams that sit one point ahead of them - the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks - are both in the middle of lengthy breaks in their schedules, meaning they’ll be well-rested when they play on Friday (for Anaheim) and Saturday (for St. Louis).

The good news, though, is that every other team immediately surrounding them in the playoff race had a miserable night on Thursday.

The Chicago Blackhawks are unlikely to still be in the postseason race at this point, as they sit a full 11 points back of both Colorado and Calgary - but a win on Thursday would have brought them within just five wins of pulling neck-in-neck, so it was still nice to see them get absolutely demolished by San Jose. The Blackhawks have always seemed capable of going on improbable tears, so this just further distances them from the rest of the pack if that does happen.

Ahead of Colorado, the Dallas Stars dropped their own game, losing 5-4 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning on one of the most ridiculous shots you’ll see in your life (thank you, Cory Conacher):

Minnesota is then six points up on Colorado for the third place spot in the Central Division, so it’s unlikely the Avalanche will pass them by. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that they took home a regulation loss to the Arizona Coyotes, taking a blow against the league’s last-place team in the process.

For Colorado, a playoff spot would be incredibly nice - but despite being in the thick of the postseason race, they don’t seem to be getting the attention they deserve. Here’s a look at how the league may not be paying enough attention to Nathan MacKinnon in particular, who should be on the Hart Trophy short list. [Mile High Hockey]

Around the league, here’s a cool look at all that the Tampa Bay Lightning did for Hockey is for Everyone month. [Raw Charge] also put out a cool look at how teams are starting to devote more resources to developing goaltending prospects, as told by goalie coach David Marcoux. [NHL]

For those who have a subscription to The Athletic, this is a serious look at whether or not the Edmonton Oilers have figured out who should play with Connor McDavid. It’s been Milan Lucic often enough, but the highly-paid winger is 20-plus games into a goal (and primary assist) drought that’s starting to look more and more concerning. [TA Edmonton]

If you didn’t get to watch the greatest game in recent American hockey history, you really need to get on that: but for now, here’s an incredible look at the game from the eyes of Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who was one of the best players at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang this past month. [The Player’s Tribune]

Another subscription-required article, but here’s a look at why we all forgot about Duncan Siemens (and why he’s reminding us that he’s still here) after his first career NHL goal. [BSN Denver]