Many people predicted this series would last six games, but they didn’t expect it to be Colorado trying to force a game seven against the upstart Kraken. That’s the situation the shorthanded Avalanche find themselves in this morning, on the brink of a round one elimination just one year removed from lifting the cup themselves.
It’s been a trying series, as a variety of absences have prevented Colorado from reaching full strength - Gabe Landeskog remains out with injury, Valeri Nichushkin left the team for personal reasons, and Cale Makar got suspended for Game 5. Only Makar is back for Game 6, and he should be a massive boost to the blueline - but will it be enough?
The absences are part of it, but the Avalanche just haven’t been able to establish their game against the Seattle Kraken. This series has been all about the Kraken making the Colorado adjust, not the other around. With Makar back, likely in place of an injured Josh Manson, the Avs big three will need to assert their will to force this series back to Denver for Game 7.
They have the skill and the will, but do they have the juice? Seattle has started stronger than Colorado every game, has opened seemingly every period with more jump, and played with a lead for the vast majority of this series. The Avalanche have to find another energy level to flip that script, and with a forward group forced to mostly play higher in the lineup than their ideal fit the big three will absolutely need to do most of the heavy lifting.
Colorado fans have been growing more comfortable with the idea that last year’s blessed season has been followed by a cursed one, but the men in the locker room cannot think that way. They’ll need to drown out the noise and the doubt, and simply outwork the Kraken tonight.
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
Jack Johnson — Erik Johnson
Just two years into their existence, the Kraken have a chance to eliminate a Stanley Cup Champion on home ice in Seattle. They’ve outworked Colorado every game, and capitalized on chances and bounces every chance they’ve gotten despite the absence of their two top regular season scorers in Jared McCann and Andre Burakovsky.
With contributions from all four lines, and hard nosed forecheck, and surprisingly stable goaltending from Philip Grubauer, Seattle has earned the chance to move on to the second round with one more win.
But elimination games present their own unique challenges, and this team has never faced one together. Grubauer has been atrocious in them in his career, so the team defense will have to be solid if they’re going to pull it off. It has been all series, will it hold up tonight?
Ty Kartye — Matthew Beniers— Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz — Alexander Wennberg — Morgan Geekie
Eeli Tolvanen — Yanni Gourde — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Brandon Tanev — Ryan Donato — Daniel Sprong
Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak — William Borgen
Carson Soucy — Justin Schultz
It’s Grubauer vs. Georgiev yet again. Both goalies have played good hockey all series, with Grubauer getting far more support in front of him.