This is the series the hockey world has been waiting for. The Avalanche - best team in hockey, winners of the President’s trophy taking on the Golden Knights - same number of points, missing out on the top seed through tie-breaker. A season series that Colorado won 4-3-1, but Vegas took the goal advantage, 18-17. There isn’t much separating these two squads, game one will likely prove critical to who prevails over the seven game set.
There has been some interesting news coming out of the Avalanche camp, with one rookie debutant looking likely to replace our most recent rookie debutant. With Alex Newhook picking up a bit of a knock in Colorado’s game four victory over the St. Louis Blues, there are rumors that Sampo Ranta could potentially make his debut in Newhook’s fourth line slot game one.
Coach Jared Bednar seems bullish on Ranta stating “I feel pretty comfortable putting him in if that’s what I decide” when discussing the 20-year old forward.
Jared Bednar on 20-year-old Sampo Ranta: "He's big, strong, fast, competes hard. ... I feel pretty comfortable putting him in if that's what I decide."— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) May 29, 2021
Ranta, who played three years at @GopherHockey, could make his NHL debut this series. https://t.co/Wlc2gatW75
Whichever player slots into the fourth line alongside Pierre Edouard-Bellemare and Carl Soderberg should give the line a nice athleticism boost.
Mikko Rantanen will look to turn around what was a rough regular season against Vegas in game one. The Finnish forward scored only four points in seven games against the Golden Knights, with all four points coming via assists. After putting up seven points (one goal) in four games in the first round, Rantanen will be sure to change his luck against Vegas early on in the series.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky - Tyson Jost - Valeri Nichushkin
Brandon Saad - JT Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Alex Newhook/Sampo Ranta - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Carl Soderberg
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Samuel Girard
Patrik Nemeth - Conor Timmins
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights come into Ball Arena less than 48 hours after their game seven victory over the Minnesota Wild. Powered by an unexpected hat-trick from Mattias Janmark and Max Pacioretty’s return from injury, Vegas prevailed 6-2. However, game seven was only necessary after the Golden Knights blew a three games to one advantage over Minnesota. This was the third consecutive “game seven after being up 3-1” scenario Vegas has found themselves in, winning two of the three game sevens.
Goaltending was the story for Vegas in the first round, with Marc-Andre Fleury giving up only five goals in the four Golden Knight wins (eight goals in three losses).
Max Pacioretty - Chandler Stephenson - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark - Nicolas Roy - Alex Tuch
William Carrier - Patrick Brown - Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Nick Holden - Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud
It’s going to be all Philipp Grubauer all the time for Colorado here on out (barring injury knocks on wood). The Avalanche goaltender was outstanding in the four game sweep of St. Louis, posting a 4-0-0 record, 1.75 goals against average and .936 save percentage.
Vegas will keep Fleury between the pipes after his strong series against Minnesota. The veteran netminder was 4-3-0 with a goals against average of 1.71 and save percentage of .931 over the seven game set.