The Colorado Avalanche look to earn the sweep of the home and home with the Minnesota Wild tonight in the “Mile High City.” Two nights ago the Avs took it to the Wild in Minnesota beating them 2-0. With outstanding play from goalie Semyon Varlamov and forward Jamie McGinn, the Avalanche returned to their winning ways closing the gap on the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche are in a “must-win” situation tonight as we look around the NHL. In order to keep pace with Phoenix and Dallas, who keep tussling with 3rd and 7th place based on who is leading in their division, the Avs must win against the Wild tonight. The Stars are playing in Vancouver tonight in a game that the second best team in the NHL, the Canucks, should win. The Coyotes, however, are in Columbus to face the worst team in the NHL and look to be the favorite in that game tonight. This scenario means that Phoenix would leapfrog into 3rd place and if the Avalanche win tonight they would be a single point behind the Stars in 7th.
The next reason tonight’s game against the Wild is a “must-win” is because if we glance at who the teams around Colorado in the standings are playing tonight, the Avalanche must win to stay where they are in the playoff race. First up are the San Jose Sharks who currently occupy the 8th and final spot in the West. They play the Oilers at home and are favored in that game. Edmonton is the second worst team in the West and the Sharks should have no problem with them tonight.
Next on the list are the Los Angeles Kings who are in Nashville to take on the Predators. The Avs coaching staff will be in-tune to this game because the Preds are next on the Avalanche’s schedule and could help out Colorado tonight by beating the Kings. If Nashville does knock off the Kings, the Avs could jump L.A. in the standings and be within one spot and point of the top 8.
The final team to look at is the Calgary Flames. The Flames sit behind Colorado in the standings in 11th, but could catch the Avs tonight with a win and Colorado loss. The Flames take on the Montreal Canadiens in Calgary and, with the Habs sporting the 3rd worst record in the NHL, this game should take care of itself early.
So, the NBC Sports Network picked the prime game of the jam-packed schedule tonight to feature because with so many playoff scenarios at play, the Wild and Avalanche look to be showcased in the game that is the most evenly matched in the West tonight. If the Avs continue to carry the momentum they created in Minnesota they should be fine tonight. The key to victory tonight for the Avalanche is to apply pressure early and often and capitalize on scoring chances.
Here is a predication table of the standings before and after tonight’s games:
|Before Tonight’s Games||After Tonight’s Games|
|7th||PHX – 75||DAL – 75|
|8th||SJS – 73||SJS – 75|
|9th||LAK – 72||COL – 74|
|10th||COL – 72||CGY – 72|
|11th||CGY – 70||LAK – 72|
*all games based on Regulation Wins
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