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Colorado Avalanche Season Preview: Pacific Division

A very top-heavy division looks to leave its stamp on the Western Conference.

Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers Game Four Western Conference Final Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

We now head West in this series with the Avs previewing against the Pacific Division. Colorado has had some memorable games against these teams when they played last year, especially with those from Canada in this division.

If the Avalanche win the Western Conference this season, they will have to go through several tests from those in the conference. So, let’s see how they did last time they faced off against those in the top-heavy Pacific.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames

Colorado edged out the Flames 2-1 back on March 29 North of the border. The Avalanche managed to get out away with two points thanks to a Valeri Nichushkin power-play goal in the third period, his second of the game overall. Despite committing six penalties, they got away with them in the end.

Calgary has had quite a topsy-turvy off-season. They lost a generational star in Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets and looked to be falling off the top of the Pacific. However, they reprimanded well with the acquisitions of Johnathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and former Avs superstar Nazem Kadri.

Obviously, the Kadri pick-up affects both sides in different ways. It leaves Colorado with a big hole to fill in their lineup, while the Flames are hopeful he will have another career year as he did last season. Each side will test the other quickly into the season, as they play on October 13 in Calgary and twice more in the season on January 18 in Calgary and February 25 in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers

The last time these two played, it was an incredible result for the Avs back on June 6. Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final swept away the Oilers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in a 6-5 win.

In the regular season, it was a different story as the Oilers beat out the Avalanche 6-3 on April 22. The Oilers were still in the race for playoff position while Colorado was already set to be the first seed in the West and was resting some regular starters for this matchup.

The Oilers brought back some key pieces including Evander Kane and also brought in new netminder Jack Campbell from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Will Campbell make the difference for Edmonton? They’ll find out when they play the champs at home on January 7, and on the road on February 19 and April 11.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Los Angeles Kings

A Nathan MacKinnon hat-trick led the way to a 9-3 blowout over the Kings on National TV back on April 13. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was also a multi-goal scorer in this affair and domination over LA despite them being in the playoff race at the time.

The Kings’ rebuild has been successful sooner than people thought as they made the playoffs last season and pushed the Oilers to seven games despite being beaten out in the end. They could’ve closed out the Oilers in six games, but couldn’t do so with their lack of playoff experience.

With veterans like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty still hanging around along with young guns like Quinton Byfield still developing, the Kings will look to make the playoffs for a second year running and get out of the first round this time. They do have to play the Avs three times and hope to not get blown out again. They’re in Denver on December 29 and March 9 and in the city of Angels on April 8.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights

The ever-lasting feud between the Avalanche and Golden Knights last played on February 26 in Vegas where Colorado wound up on top 3-2. Despite only recording 21 shots, the Avs took two third-period goals in 26 seconds to ride them to victory.

Vegas is in a precarious spot compared to where they usually are. They are coming off a season where they missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, lost Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes, and are without a solid number-one goaltender with Robin Lehner out for the year.

There’s been plenty of debate and speculation as to whether Vegas will make the jump back into the postseason. It’s a toss-up either way, but Avs fans probably wouldn’t mind seeing them miss once again. They’ll try to do their part in three games this season, once in Vegas on October 22 and twice in Denver on January 2 and February 27.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver is the first team on this list in the Pacific Division to hand Colorado a 3-1 loss at Ball Arena back on March 23. All of the scorings came in the third period, and two goals from Brock Beser and J.T. Miller in two minutes were all the difference.

Vancouver had a terrible start to last season before hiring Bruce Boudreau. The new Canucks head coach nearly led the team back to the playoffs, missing out by just five points.

Will a full season of Boudreau behind the bench bring Vancouver back to the playoffs? With some puck luck, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them jump over Vegas in the standings and into the postseason. They’ll look to hand the Avs another loss in the process in the Mile High City on November 23 and in British Columbia on January 5 and 20.

Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks

Colorado managed to handle the Sharks 4-2 back on March 31. San Jose was in it until two third-period goals from Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky gave them the win.

The Sharks are going to have to deal with life as prey of the NHL. Unlike their names sake, the Sharks will be far from predatory this season and lack behind the strength of others in the West.

They’ve lost Brett Burns during the offseason, and guys like Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl are going to have a tough time adapting. Regardless, San Jose will look to stir things up when they play the Avs in Denver on March 7, and in a unique back-to-back situation at the SAP Center on April 4 and 6.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Anaheim Ducks

The first shutout of this series from last year came to the Ducks, who were shot down by the Avalanche 2-0 on home ice back on January 19. Pavel Francouz got the nod over Darcy Kuemper in this one and performed brilliantly in this 34-save shutout.

Anaheim started off last season on a hot streak but then quickly tapered off back to the bottom of the Pacific. They’ve lost young gun Sonny Milano and will have to rely on veteran John Gibson and superstar Trevor Zegras to try and be at .500 at season’s end.

When the Avs and Ducks play, it will also be the first time Josh Manson has played his former team since his trade at the trade deadline last year. It will be interesting to see how the reunion plays out when they’re at the Honda Center on March 27 and April 9. Meanwhile, Anaheim comes to town on January 26.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken

Finally, the still newest NHL team got the best of Colorado the last time they played. This was back on April 20 at the Climate Pledge Arena, where the Kraken won out 3-2 against an Avs side resting for the playoffs.

Seattle will still be subpar this upcoming season but has a bright future ahead of them. Getting Shane Wright and Matty Beniers was key for them, and they still have some other talent too. This includes a couple of former Avalanche players including Joonas Donskoi, Philipp Grubauer, and newly-acquired Andre Burakovsky.

There will be plenty of homecomings when Seattle comes to town. It will only be the second and third time they’ve visited after only coming once to Denver last year. The homecomings will take place on October 21 and March 5, while the Avs go back to the Emerald City on January 21.