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Colorado Avalanche Season Preview: Atlantic Division

The winner from the Eastern Conference has come out of the Atlantic the last four seasons. Will they keep the pressure up?

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Continuing on our season preview for the Avs against the world comes the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic has been the powerhouse of the Eastern Conference the last couple of years, with the Lightning winning out of the East the previous three years and the Bruins back in 2019.

Even if just those two have been to the Stanley Cup Final in the last four years out of the East, there are still plenty of solid names. They will still be the top dog against a top-heavy Metropolitan Division. So what should we expect this season based on the last time the Avs played these Atlantic teams?

Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panthers

In what was a heavily contested game back on December 12, the Avs would beat out the eventual Atlantic Division-winning Panthers 3-2. It took an Andre Burakovsky hat-trick to wrap up the win, the first of his career.

The Panthers could be seen as unlucky to get anything from that game, but after winning their first playoff series since 1996 hopes are high. The moves they’ve made back up that statement, as they traded for Matthew Tkachuk while losing Johnathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in the process through the Calgary Flames.

While Huberdeau and Weegar will be a tough loss, Florida is all-in. In a really tough division, it will be difficult to be on top once again, especially with some new guys. Of course, they’ll have to go through the Stanley Cup champions if they wish for perennial success. The two play on January 10 in Denver, and a month later on February 11 in Sunrise.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

In what was arguably the most dramatic of games on this list, the Avs roared back from 4-1 down to win 5-4 in OT against the Leafs back on January 8. The Avs had five different goal scorers en route to the comeback win, topped off by a Devon Toews OT winner catching the Leafs on a change.

Toronto is still looking to get past the first round and will have to do so with a little bit of a different side. They lost Jack Campbell to the Edmonton Oilers and will have to make do with Matt Murray. Former Av Nicolas Aube-Kubel moved to Ontario to join the side with Auston Matthews still leading the way in the second-to-last year of his contract that is garnering tons of attention.

Nonetheless, Toronto will be in the race to win the Atlantic to keep home-ice advantage in hope of actually getting past the first round. They’ll look to get revenge on the Avs on New Year’s Eve in Denver, and in Toronto on March 15.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

We all know what happened the last time these two played. It never gets old saying it, but in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, the Avs won 2-1 which clinched them the Cup. It is a game no one will ever forget and everyone will know where they were when the Avs won their third Cup.

In the regular season, the Avs still won 3-2 on February 10. There were eight different point-getters for the Avs en route to the win. Tampa will still be a force to reckon with, despite some losses on their side. The core still being together will be key for them, just as it is for the Avs.

Of course, when these two play later this season it will be a great game to watch. So be sure to grab your popcorn for their game on February 9 in Tampa, and again just a few days later on February 14 in Denver, each looking for a sweet win.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Boston Bruins

The first loss in this list from the Atlantic Division comes from the Bruins, who handed down a beating to the Avs 5-1 back on February 21. While it was just one loss in the middle of winning six of seven games, it’s one to forget.

The Bruins will be an interesting team to look at heading into the year. They won’t have Tuuka Rask in net and Charlie McAvoy is out injured to start the year. They did manage to bring back Patrice Bergeron for his leadership but have a ton of UFA’s at the end of the year. It could very well be the Bruins' last chance to get a Cup.

Regardless, the Bruins will continue to be at least a misfit out East. They play the Avs again in a span of a couple of days, on December 3 in Boston and in Denver on December 7.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Buffalo Sabres

Just days before the Bruins game for the Avs, they had also paid a visit to Buffalo to beat up on the Sabres 5-3 on February 19. It was one of the weirdest games of the season last year, with three goals in two minutes between the teams in the first period.

The Sabres' goals all came from Tage Thompson and his hat trick efforts despite the loss. With the Sabres still building and young, they are building around Thompson who signed a large seven-year, $7.1M AAV deal during the offseason. It will keep him in upstate New York through 2030.

With Buffalo still lagging behind the rest of the East, it may be a tough couple of games against the Avs. They played December 1 in Buffalo and December 15 in the Mile High City.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings

In the midst of a road trip that saw the Avs play a chunk of the Atlantic teams, the Avs wrapped it up with a 5-2 win against the old rival Detroit Red Wings. Two goals from captain Gabriel Landeskog along with a pair of Cale Makar assists pushed them over the top.

While it’s not quite the Red Wings of old, they will be having their eye on making it back to the playoffs. They’ve been on the up and up with Steve Yzerman in charge and some moves this offseason will look to propel them back into the postseason. It’s a real possibility to at least be in contention for the wild card.

While the Avs have had the Red Wings’ number as of late, Detroit will certainly be looking to get back on top of an old rival. They’ll play on January 16 in Denver and March 18 in Detroit.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Ottawa Senators

Another wild game the Avs had last season involved the Sens, where they pulled away from the Avs 6-5 in OT back on December 4 in Ottawa. Just a few weeks before that, the two played a 12-goal thriller in Denver where the Avs won 7-5 thanks to a late Alex Newhook goal in the third period.

Needless to say, these two have had wild times when they’ve played. Besides the point, Ottawa has gotten a lot better this offseason and will probably be the most interesting team to watch this year.

Will Claude Giroux and company lead Ottawa back to the playoffs? It’s certainly a big ask for a team that has heavily struggled the last couple of seasons. It will be tough but interesting to see if they can have a quick turnaround. Of course, they’ll have to go through Colorado away on January 14, and back home on March 16 in Kanata.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Montreal Canadiens

The final team from the Atlantic is the Canadiens, who actually kept the Avs on their toes last time they faced one another. However, the Avs managed to come out on top 3-2 in OT back on January 22. Landeskog was the hero that night to avoid an upset for his side.

Montreal unfortunately just is not going to have a good year by the look of things. With big names lost like Carey Price and Shea Weber, it just is going to be difficult for them. Nick Suzuki, named the new captain this season, will have a lot to do to lead his team.

Really, Montreal will look to just not be the bottom-feeder of the league and try as best they can to replicate their run to the Stanley Cup Final a couple of years ago, but it’s a big ask. They’ll go through the current Cup champs as well on December 21 in Denver, and March 13 across the border at home.