Mar 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Jamie GmGinn (11) celebrates his goal against Anaheim Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller (1) during the second period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Leffingwell-USA TODAY Sports

5 Things Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Anaheim Ducks


The Final Game

It’s been a long season and very few thought the Colorado Avalanche would be where there are at. But here they are. Let’s just be thankful that this isn’t the last time we get to see the Avs take the ice until October. These two teams met in the first game of the season, a 6-1 Avalanche victory that set the tone for the season. Now they meet in the final game of the season, both in the playoffs, both looking to make one final statement.

Stay Healthy

Things haven’t exactly gone too well in these final weeks for the Avs. They lost leading scorer Matt Duchene on March 31, versatile forward John Mitchell on Thursday, and top defenseman Tyson Barrie on Friday. You can’t exactly “play not to get hurt” because a lot of times, that’s how you get hurt, but it sure would be nice if the Hockey Gods helped the Avs out and got them through this game 100% healthy heading into the playoffs.

Stefan Elliott’s Role

Tyson Barrie has been outstanding for the Avs this year, but he’s currently out for who knows how long. When someone of the Avs has gone done, someone else has stepped up. With Barrie down, Stefan Elliott will have to step up. That might be asking a lot from a guy who hasn’t played a NHL game this season, but Elliott is a talented offensive defenseman who could thrive in Patrick Roy’s system that gives defensemen the freedom to jump into the play when they see fit.

No Jiggy

Patrick Roy has confirmed that Semyon Varlamov will start this game, even if the Central Division is wrapped up. It would’ve been a fitting end for Jean Sebastien-Giguere, who spent his best years in Anaheim, winning a Conn Smythe trophy and a Stanley Cup, to get the start in what could be his final home game, but Roy likely doesn’t want his playoff goalie to be cold when the playoffs start. Varly hasn’t played since Thursday, and if he were to sit on Sunday, he might not see action until Wednesday.

**UPDATE** Since the Avalanche have clinched the division title, Roy will start Giguere tonight.

What’s At Stake?

For the Ducks, nothing. For the Avs, maybe nothing, maybe everything. A lot depends on how the St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings game turns out in the afternoon. If the Blues fail to pick up a point, the Avs will have clinched the Central Division before stepping on the ice. If the Blues get a point, or win, the Avs will have to match them to win the division. The Ducks already know their fate, and given that this is a back-to-back game for them, it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to rest a couple of key players given that this is a meaningless game. And if the Avs have nothing to play for, they might decided to do the same thing.

Tags: Colorado Avalanche