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How will the return to the Central Division affect the Colorado Avalanche next season?

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A return to a normal NHL season is upon the horizon, and a lot has changed since then

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche - Game Two Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There is a sense of normality returning to life.

If the Colorado Avalanche had made it to the third round of the 2021 playoffs, Ball Arena would’ve hosted a full crowd for the first time since March 11th, 2020. It is expected that there will be a full crowd come Opening Night in October, with Avs faithful making a huge difference to team performance every night.

With this return to normality includes a shift to the regular Central Division lineup for Colorado. The Avalanche haven’t seen some opponents in over two years. With this in mind, how will the return to regular divisions this season play into the Avs journey to the Cup?

Bruce Bennett Studios File Photos Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

Luckily, the Avs have seen the Blues, Wild, and Coyotes a lot this last season. Yes, in case anyone forgot, the Coyotes are being relocated to the Central Division thanks to the introduction of the Seattle Kraken to the Pacific Division.

The Avs boasted a record above .500 over each of these teams last season, including a four-game sweep of the Blues in the first round of the playoffs. However, some old foes have been missing on the Avs schedule for the last two years.

The Avalanche will get visits from the Stars, Blackhawks, Predators, and Jets once again. Despite some questionable offseason moves by other clubs, no team should be taken lightly in the Central.

Chicago Blackhawks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There has always been something pesky about playing against the Central Division. It has been deemed the hardest division in hockey due to the close competition the division has each season in terms of the playoff race. With an extra team added into the picture, it makes things even more competitive during division play.

With the strength of the roster, the Avs should make the playoffs easily. There won’t be a down-to-the-wire fight with the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the division either, but that does not guarantee the top spot in the Central. The two will certainly be in a fight for the top dog of the West once again though.

Watch out for the Avs to be in a race for the top with the Winnipeg Jets. It seems like every other team in the division is shooting themselves in the foot with contract issues or cap problems. With the upset of Conor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the first round last season, the Jets will look to build off of that and take it with them South of the border in the regular season.

Winnipeg Jets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With the return of regular divisions, the Avs will make trips to the East Coast and Canada once again. While not as important as division play, it is still something to consider in a full 82-game season.

Things will be back to normal in hockey for the first time in a long time. The Avs will not see the same seven opponents all season, and we won’t have to deal with 8:30 p.m. puck drops on the California coast all the time.

With the return to normal, keep an eye out for division recaps of the last matchups for the Avs against teams in their respective divisions. While things have changed significantly since the last time the teams met, it’ll be good to recap and remember what each team brings to the ice every night.

First up, revisiting the last matchups of the Avalanche vs. Metropolitan Division, coming soon!