Colorado: Playoff Bound

Photo: Denver Post, Andy Cross

By Richard Gonzalez

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets in a wild overtime win. They have clinched their spot for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are currently holding the second wild-card spot with 90 points. It’s one point back from the Dallas Stars who have 91 points. If the Stars win on April 4, they will lock in the first wild-card spot. The Stars still have two games left and the Avalanche have one game. Let’s take a look at a potential playoff match-up. The Avalanche would have to take on the Calgary Flames and went 0-3 this season against them. 

Oct. 13, 2018

The Avalanche would host the Flames in a first of three meetings between the two teams. Flames’ David Rittich and Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov started in net for their respective teams. 

The Avalanche would strike twice in the first period getting goals from Nathan MacKinnon and J.T. Compher. The Flames would rally back getting goals by Sam Bennett in the second period and Elias Lindholm late in the third period. Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau would get a breakaway in overtime and score the game-winning goal with just 46 seconds in the period. The Avalanche would drop this game 3-2, in overtime. 

Check out the recap here:

Nov. 1, 2018

The Flames would host the Avalanche in the second of three meetings. The Avalanche’s Varlamov and Flames’ Mike Smith got the start for their respective teams. 

There was no score after the first period but the second period picked up a lot.  Vladislav Kamenev and Sheldon Dries would each get their first career NHL goals and put the Avalanche up 2-0. The Flames would come within one when Mikael Backlund scored. The Avalanche would end the period being up 4-1 after Colin Wilson and Carl Soderberg each scored. Ian Cole and Bennett dropped the gloves and were subsequently both given game misconduct penalties.

Check out the fight here:  

The Flames would not go down without a fight as they scored the next five goals by Lindholm, Sean Monaghan, James Neal, Mark Giordano, and Michael Frolik. Gabriel Landeskog would get a late power play goal but the Avalanche couldn’t get back in it and lost 6-5. 

Check out the recap here:

Jan. 19, 2019

The Flames would host the Avalanche in a third and final game of their season series. The Avalanche’s Varlamov and Flames’ Rittich got the start for their respective teams.

The Flames would get the first lead when Backlund and Mark Jankowski each scored. The Avalanche would answer back with a pair of goals from MacKinnon and Erik Johnson. The Flames would break the tie in the second when Lindholm scored. The Flames started the third period with the one-goal lead. They would increase that when Frolik scored. Mikko Rantanen would get the Avalanche within one but Matthew Tkachuk would answer back in seconds to regain the two-goal lead. The Avalanche dropped this game 5-3.

Check out the recap here:

Final Thoughts

The Avalanche dropped all three of their games against the Flames this season.  However, the Avalanche are the hottest team in the NHL. They have found ways to win without one of their star players, Rantanen. There has been some secondary scoring and the offensive play from the defenseman has been good. They showed they are resilient and will not go down without a fight. The Avalanche will soon get Rantanen back and will have two capable and healthy goalies going into the playoffs. Philipp Grubauer has been absolutely on fire too. The Flames have not played against Grubauer this season and will have to figure him out on the fly. 

I feel that all the pressure is on the Flames. They have a top spot and potentially are going up against the second wild card team. They might inadvertently resort to a complacent mindset. The Avalanche may have the bigger flame going into that potential series. It will take a full effort for the entirety of the game to match the Flames speed. The Avalanche need to take fewer penalties and have to figure out how to capitalize on the power play. The Flames know how to crawl back into games. They were down in some of the games against the Avalanche but they did not stay down and fought their way back.

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April 5th, 2019


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