Hockey and the Colorado Avalanche’s return are truly just around the corner. First beginning with an exhibition game against the Minnesota Wild shortly after arriving to the bubble in Edmonton to close out the month of July and then straight into the slate of Western Conference round-robin games.
In the round-robin the Avalanche will have a chance to complete their goal of overtaking the St. Louis Blues but instead of for the division crown it is now for top seed in the Western Conference. That battle begins right away on August 2nd with the first round-robin match for either team.
The season series was split between the two division rivals with each grabbing two big victories at home. First it was the Blues outscoring the Avalanche 8-3 in the two games but then the Avalanche got revenge at home. In those two subsequent games the Avalanche put up a combined 12 goals while and forced Jordan Binnington out of the contest on both occasions. The deciding meeting of the series was supposed to complete the regular season on April 4th but now will unfold as a round-robin contest without the benefit of home ice for either team, although as a slight perk the Avalanche are designated as the home team.
For their second opponent on August 5th, the Avalanche enjoyed a much different series result against the Vegas Golden Knights. In two games whilst visiting Sin City the Avalanche attack exploded for 13 goals while only giving up four in two near identical drubbings of the Golden Knights. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored in each game for the Avalanche and concluded with five points against his old team over the two games. The Avalanche also missed out on the series concluding game set at home due to the season pause and will look to continue their dominance over Vegas for seeding.
Finally, the Dallas Stars pose a different challenge for the Avalanche. The series between the two teams had actually wrapped up in January with the Stars taking a four-game sweep of their division rivals. Three of the four were one goal games with a shootout and overtime victory thrown in but the Avalanche have yet to solve the new look Stars.
How the other teams matched up
Dallas didn’t enjoy the same streak of success in their other divisional match up as they dropped three of four to St. Louis in the completed season series. The Stars’ one win was on the road and needed overtime to settle a 3-2 final result. The other victories went to St. Louis in a 3-2, 3-1 and 4-3 shootout contest suggesting a tighter affair between these two teams.
Scoring however was a theme which continued on with the Blues and Golden Knights in their three regular season meetings. The Blues kept the advantage going and won their one tilt at home 4-2 but then dropped a pair of games in overtime at Vegas with a combined score of 11-9.
Vegas and Dallas played only twice with both in the Lone Star State as the final match in Vegas was cancelled. The two teams split results with Dallas winning 4-2 in the first game and then Vegas got the better end of the result in a 3-2 overtime win. Dallas seemed to have the secret to keeping scoring down in general over the season.
What to expect
Clearly an overtime game or two seems to be on the horizon among these six round-robin contests. The dichotomy between low and high scoring affairs should make for an interesting variety as well. Vegas is also the lesser-known opponent because of the lack of matches, some due to cancellation, and many of the meetings with Vegas were early on in the season before Vegas got on a late season roll, incidentally starting with their last win against St. Louis.
The Avalanche should be very competitive in their quest for the top seed. They should have something to prove against Dallas and then also have confidence after multiple victories against Vegas and St. Louis. Tiebreakers might be necessary to determine the final seeding between these teams and the Avalanche should hold that advantage over Dallas and Vegas due to regular season points percentage. Securing even just one win of the three should keep them out of the bottom and two victories could be enough for top seed.