With the trade deadline behind them, the Colorado Avalanche are now able to focus on the task at hand - making a push towards a long playoff run. With Vladislav Namestnikov and Michael Hutchinson as the only two additions to the roster, Joe Sakic has shown that he has confidence that his team can be a contender.
Now, with only 21 games renaming in the regular season, the Avalanche can focus on getting healthy and getting the best possible seed in the Conference. The Avs are only three points behind the St. Louis Blues for first place in the conference.
With injuries to key offensive contributors Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri, the Avalanche have been forced to play a completely different style of game – and it’s been working for them. Coach Bednar has adapted his lineup in a way that has maximized their defensive potential. The team is now not only one of the best 5v5 offensive teams in the league, but one of the best defensive ones as well.
On top of the forwards that they are missing, the Avs have also been without Philipp Grubauer after he was hurt in the Stadium Series game earlier this month. Despite an injury to their starting goalie, the Avalanche have been keeping the puck out of the net as Pavel Francouz continues to prove that he is one of the best backups in the league. The rookie has been playing so well that he was named the NHL’s first star of the week after allowing only two goals combined over the team’s last three games.
Now, after sweeping their trip through California, the Avalanche are back at the Pepsi Center to take on the Buffalo Sabres. After a more eventful trade deadline day - the Sabres brought in both Wayne Simmonds and Dominik Kahun - Buffalo is looking to make a push for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. They are on a two game winning streak of their own and currently sit six points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
With the offense struggling of late, hopefully being back at home can help ignite the big guns. Knowing that this is the team that will go on the playoff run should be comforting to the Avalanche players and that comfort level should lead to some more consistency.
Even with the injuries, this Avalanche team is one of the best in the league and has a legitimate chance to win a lot of playoff games this season. Now is the time for them to confirm it.
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