The Colorado Avalanche have about as good of a first round matchup as they could hope for in the Arizona Coyotes. Having earned the second seed in the conference after a good Round Robin, they play the second lowest seed in the West remaining, Arizona. Despite having made their name with their goaltending, the Avalanche comfortably have the upper hand in all three areas of the ice. They’re deeper offensively, more sound defensively, and they have two #1 caliber goalies who are in the zone this August.
If you think about it, the Avalanche used to be the Coyotes. A one-line team with some defense and a goalie that could be unstoppable on his day in Semyon Varlamov. While the Coyotes only really have Taylor Hall in the tier of top NHL talents, they’ve been able to create a good line around him. The Avalanche are the deeper team, and as long as they can remain unrelenting on offense and fresh on defense, they’ll be in a good position to win the series.
“I don’t think we’re a one-dimensional team. I think we’re a dynamic group and if we can’t score off the rush, we’ll find other ways to produce and score,” said Nazem Kadri, who has been centering a trio with Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin since the second day of thee Phase 3 Training Camp. “Our line in particular, I think we got speed, we got skill. A lot of our plays happen from the bottom of the circle down. That’s the tough part about coaching against our team, we can bring different looks and that’s definitely a confidence builder for us.” [NHL dot com]
Cat Silverman wrote about the Coyotes and what to expect from them. It’s a really good, in-depth analysis of the team, particularly the honest discussion about where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
Vladislav Namestnikov - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog - Nazem Kadri - Valeri Nichushkin
Andre Burakovsky - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Matt Nieto - P.E. Bellemare - Matt Calvert
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov
There’s a good chance Philipp Grubauer will be the starter for the team, but Coach Bednar is keeping his lineup secret until a later time. For now, we have what worked two times out of three.
Taylor Hall - Christian Dvorak - Phil Kessel
Clayton Keller - Derek Stepan - Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse - Carl Soderberg - Christian Fischer
Vinnie Hinostroza - Brad Richardson - Michael Grabner
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Jason Demers
Jakob Chychrun - Jordan Oesterle
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Alex Goligoski
Ryan S. Clark wrote about an old Avs friend, Carl Soderberg, who is in this series on the enemy’s side.