For the first 45 minutes of Game 1 Wednesday afternoon, it looked as though the Colorado Avalanche might get goalie’d by the Arizona Coyotes. The Avs were absolutely dominant but just couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Darcy Kuemper.
Enter Nazem Kadri.
Just three days after his former teammates in Toronto were eliminated from the postseason, Kadri scored his first playoff goal in burgundy and blue - and it was all that would be needed for the Avalanche to take a 1-0 series lead in their opening round matchup with the Arizona Coyotes.
Kadri’s game winning goal was followed quickly by insurance from J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen as the Avalanche were able to coast to a 3-0 victory.
The Avalanche out shot Arizona 40-14 in Game 1 but what makes that even more impressive is that Nathan MacKinnon didn’t have a single shot on goal. The Avs will now look to continue the dominance this afternoon.
This was a game where the final score doesn’t explain just how badly one team dominated the other. If Arizona doesn’t figure out how to be more competitive, this is going to be a very short series.
Coach Bednar spent a lot of Game one blending the lines in an attempt to find a goal. Each of Vlad Namestnikov, Gabriel Landeskog and Kadri spent time on the top line with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The ability to juggle players through different spots in the lineup is something that only a team as deep as the Avs can do. Expect a lot of the same today.
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
After putting up a shutout in Game 1, expect Philipp Grubauer to be back in the crease for the Avalanche.
After generating only 14 shots on net in Game 1, the Coyotes are likely to try some line mixing in order to spark an offense that was completely ineffective at generating scoring chances.
Defender Jakob Chychrun led the way for the Coyotes with six individual shot attempts in Game 1 - a true indictment on how ineffective Arizona’s forward group was.
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
Kuemper is the only reason the game was even close on Wednesday. He was forced to stand on his head in order to keep Arizona from being embarrassed. He’ll be needed to do the same today - something he is very capable of.