The Avalanche: (42-20-8) / (2-0-0)
The Opponent: Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8) / (2-0-0)
Puck drop: 1:00 p.m. MT
Watch: NBC, SN, TVAS
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950
The quest is simple tonight. Win, and the Colorado Avalanche will have home-ice throughout the Western Conference portion of the playoffs, regardless of who they play. If they win, they will play the Chicago in a best-of-seven series. Lose, and the Avalanche will play the next lowest seed, the Arizona Coyotes in the first round.
Seeding for the West
(1) COL/VGK vs. (12) CHI
(2) VGK/COL vs. (11) ARI
(3) STL/DAL vs. (8) CGY
(4) DAL/STL vs. (7) VAN
It appears to have been in poor practice for St. Louis Blues (and the Boston Bruins in the East) to not have taken the Round Robin seriously, because they’ve both dropped from being the top seed in their respective conferences all the way down to the fourth seed. This means they’re going to get tougher opponents at every level as they try to make their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For the Avalanche, this is the perfect scenario, they’re at the top of their game right now and have a chance to earn home-ice throughout the Western Conference portion of the playoffs, playing the worst team still alive at every level.
Coach Jared Bednar has provided no information as to what his lines, pairings, or starting goalie will be for this game, all we have to go off of are his choices from the win against Dallas.
Since Pavel Francouz won the game last time out, my guess is Philipp Grubauer will be back in net today aas Bednar said he would alternate his goalies through the Round Robin. Both have very strong numbers, surrendering one goal between them against 58 shots over two games. Francouz has the shutout, but it’s one goal that’s the difference and I would argue he had an overall easier night with how dominant Colorado was in front of him. I don’t know who they’ll go with in Game 1 or today, but at least they have a really good problem on their hands.
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
Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas is coming off a wild 6-4 win over the St. Louis Blues earlier in the week. Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals on only 17 shots against as his team peppered St. Louis with 38 shots and scored six times. These are two very powerful offenses coming at each other, and if Colorado can win in net, they should come out on top. They have the more balanced team.
Mark Stone has two goals at 5v5 for the team after their first two games, he’ll be a player the Avalanche will need to look out for. Also dangerous will be Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Will Carrier, and William Karlsson. The Golden Knights also take a lot of shots from their defense (Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez), so the Avalanche will have to counter that with pressure high and lots of blocked shots. Counterattacks might be a key part of the offense for the Avs. It’ll be fun to watch MacKinnon go.
Chandler Stephenson - William Karlsson - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault - Paul Stastny - Reilly Smith
Nick Cousins - Nicolas Roy - Alex Tuch
William Carrier - Tomas Nosek - Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb - Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez - Shea Theodore
Nick Holden - Zach Whitecloud