With the NHL season coming to an end Saturday, the Colorado Avalanche find themselves preparing for the first round of the playoffs - something that looked incredibly unlikely only three weeks ago. After a season that can only be described as an emotional roller coaster for Avalanche fans, the team was able to grab a hold of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by going 8-0-2 leading up to the meaningless loss in San Jose to end the season.
They’re one of the hottest teams in the league going into the postseason and the Avalanche are still waiting to get one of their three All Stars back in the lineup. Mikko Rantanen has been skating but hasn’t been a participant in a full practice yet. Coach Bednar hopes to have his star winger back in the lineup at some point in the first round - though it might not be for Game 1.
The Avalanche have drawn a matchup that might seem scary at first glance. The Calgary Flames finished first in the West with a record of 50-25-7, but they’re a team that doesn’t necessarily evoke the type of intimidating presence you’d expect from a conference champion. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they’re likely to be starting their second best goalie.
David Rittich has been great for the Flames at times this season, but it’s going to be Mike Smith in Calgary’s net - at least for the first few games of the series - and that’s something the Avalanche should be exciting about. Smith’s performance this season has been sub-par so if the Flames are going to go on a run in these playoffs they’re going to have to win a lot of run-and-gun games. That is a style of play the Avalanche are comfortable with - and one they can exploit.
The series gets underway Thursday evening at 8pm MT at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. Every game will air on NBCSN in the US and CBC in Canada. Games 3 & 4 will be at the Pepsi Center Monday April 15th and Wednesday April 17th.
Here is a look at the complete schedule for the first round matchup:
Thursday, April 11, 8pm: Avalanche @ Flames | SN, CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Saturday, April 13, 8:30pm: Avalanche @ Flames | SN, CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Monday, April 15, 8pm: Flames @ Avalanche | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, April 17, 8pm: Flames @ Avalanche | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Friday, April 19, TBD: Avalanche @ Flames | TBD
*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Flames @ Avalanche | TBD
*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Avalanche @ Flames | TBD
All times listed above are mountain daylight time.
Here is a look at the complete schedule for every first round matchup.