The Avalanche won every postseason series of their Stanley Cup run on the road in 2022, but they have the potential to set up an elimination game at home by defeating the Seattle Kraken in their barn tonight. The Kraken have given the Avalanche more than most would have guessed, but Colorado's superstars stole games two and three despite some self-inflicted errors from the Avs. Will Colorado absolve themselves of unsolicited blunders and assert their dominion? Or will the Kraken prove pesky and make this first round a best of three games?
Get ready. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/MMNbp14lDO— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 24, 2023
The Avalanche gave up two goals in 19 seconds just after being a bit too cute on a powerplay, and both came from Avalanche slip-ups. That really brought Seattle back into the game when they were just about to throw in the towel. That's what I mean by "unsolicited blunders," I think that once those are eliminated, this matchup isn't as close as it appears.
This is video game stuff. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/tvpi5bMdbe— y - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 23, 2023
Let's not forget the Avalanche back end is still getting back into the swing of things since adding Josh Manson and Cale Makar. We are starting to see Makar impact games in his quintessential fashion, and Manson is settling into the system again.
The headlines read that Colorado won game three mainly due to incredible performances from Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Cale Makar. However accurate that may be, the Avalanche will still need a more substantial contribution from its depth pieces like Denis Malgin, Lars Eller, and Alex Newhook, especially with Valeri Nichushkin out for "personal reasons." Keep an eye on how they affect game four.
Artturi Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Evan Rodrigues
Matt Nieto — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Ben Meyers — Lars Eller — Denis Malgin
Andrew Cogliano — Alex Newhook — Logan O'Connor
Bowen Byram — Cale Makar
Devon Toews — Samuel Girard
Josh Manson — Erik Johnson
Note: Still no word on Valeri Nichushkin outside of Jared Bednar, mentioning a lack of a return timeline.
You have to capitalize when you have a good team like Colorado on the spot. The Kraken scored first in every game of the series so far, and doing so again at home will be critical to their success. That said, having a lead against the defending champs in both of their first-round losses has to be slightly demoralizing.
We've been hammered over the head with the Kraken having more depth narrative, but that was essentially the case all season for an Avalanche team that saw hundreds of man-games lost. The Kraken will have to find their superstars if they want to stick around in these playoffs.
We had a dude in the Game 2 Watchalong drop in after the Kraken took a 2-0 lead and inform us that "depth beats star power in the playoffs" and you can feel how you feel buuuuut...that's what star power does for you.— AJ Haefele (@returnofaj) April 23, 2023
The Kraken have done a decent job of containing Colorado's explosive nature, but I bet they double down on that mindset after seeing MacKinnon go nuclear. I joked that "limit time and space" will be on every whiteboard in Seattle today.
Jared McCann — Matthew Beniers — Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz — Alexander Wennberg — Brandon Tanev
Eeli Tolvanen — Yanni Gourde — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jesper Froden — Ryan Donato — Daniel Sprong
Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak — William Borgen
Carson Soucy — Justin Schultz
Alexandar Georgiev hasn't been as good as we'd hoped, at least statistically, but he has made the necessary saves to have a series lead. I take this with a grain of salt, considering this is just his sixth playoff appearance. I expect him to grow more and more comfortable as the Avalanche get deeper into the postseason, and I predict his breakout performance will come tonight.
Philipp Grubauer has been at his best against the Avalanche but game three showed that when the Avalanche have time and space, he can be beaten. The Avalanche need to do an excellent job of sustaining possession and getting pucks to the Grubauer. Get him off his game early.