Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets
It’s Not Over
The Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, but the work isn’t over. The team had all weekend to celebrate their playoff birth, tonight, it’s time to get back to business. We’ve heard all year about “Why Not Us?” and how this season doesn’t surprise them, but they are a young team and it’s possible that they are feeling a little too good about securing a playoff spot. If they are, I guarantee that feeling doesn’t last past the first intermission because Patrick Roy won’t allow it to go any further.
Fighting Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are at 82 points and sitting in the second wild card position. But they are only one point up on the Washington Capitals. This is a team fighting for a playoff spot and they are going to come out and play hard and desperate hockey. If the Avs aren’t immediately on their game, it’s possible that the Jackets jump out to an early lead before Colorado knows what happened.
Semyon Varlamov was the goat for Team Russia in the Olympics but he’s been the MVP for the Avs. He’ll face Sergei Bobrovsky, the man who many Russian fans think should’ve started the elimination game against Finland, the Jackets MVP and reigning NHL Vezina Trophy winner. I would think that Varlamov would want to silence a lot of Russian doubters who blame him for that Finland loss by outplaying his Olympic teammate in the final regular season meeting between the two.
The Loss of Duchene
I’ve already written a longer piece on the loss of Duchene, but it really can’t be understated. I have confidence in the top six guys stepping up to replace Duchene’s production, the guy who really needs to start playing better is Marc Andre Cliche. He wasn’t good in third line duty when John Mitchell was out, but he’ll be back in that role for the rest of the season with Duchene out and Mitchell occupying one of the top two center spots.
Controlling Second Place
The Chicago Blackhawks have hit a bit of a wall. They’ve lost three straight games and sit one point behind the Avalanche for second in the Central with just 6 games left to play. The Avs have two games in hand and own the tiebreaker. The Avs can put a lot of pressure on Chicago with a win tonight, essentially going up by 4 points with a game in hand. The Avs need to take advantage of things and not allow the Blackhawks to hang around, because even though they look down now, the defending Stanley Cup Champions are never out.
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