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Avalanche Preview: Game Three at Minnesota Wild (Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One)

Game Two: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild (Avalanche lead series 2-0)

Wild Goalie Controversy

As of this preview, mum is still the word on whether or not Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in net as the Game Three starter. He was pulled in Game Two after allowing three goals on 14 shots, but he really wasn’t that bad in the game. Darcy Kuemper came in and stopped all 14 shots he faced, including a couple of high quality scoring chances, but starting a playoff game and coming in when your team is down 3-1 are two different kinds of pressure. If Bryzgalov starts, he’ll probably be on a short leash, but I think the Wild are going to go with Kuemper, just to try and change the momentum of the series.

Home Ice

It’s been said that a series doesn’t start until the home team loses. If you’re a Minnesota fan, you’re holding on to that like it’s the gospel. Obviously the series has started (Colorado is up 2-0, in case you missed it), but if the Wild protect home ice, all of a sudden this becomes a best of three series. If you’re the Avs, while a sweep would be nice, splitting in Minnesota wouldn’t be so bad. The Avs were just as good on the road as they were at home this year (in fact, they had identical records) so Avs fans can only hope that going 2-0 at home leads to 2-0 on the road.

The 2-6-9 Line

One of the benefits of home ice is getting the last change. That means Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo will be able to see when Roy uses the Nathan MacKinnon-Paul Stastny-Gabe Landeskog line and can match-up against them with whichever line he feels like. That said, he’s gotten the match-ups he’s wanted this series. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, Minnesota’s top defensive forwards, and Ryan Suter, their best defenseman, have been on the ice against the 2-6-9 line and you see how that’s worked out. Maybe Yeo will try out

Avalanche Secondary Scoring

The Avalanche have scored nine goals in this series. Six of them have come off the stick of Gabriel Landeskog or Paul Stastny. Nathan MacKinnon has six assists along with one goal while Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn have the other two goals. While the line of MacKinnon-Stastny-Landeskog doesn’t show any signs of showing down, sooner or later the Avs secondary scoring has to show up. P.A. Parenteau-O’Reilly-McGinn have been good in this series, they just haven’t finished the way the top line has. Also, don’t expect the Avalanche defense, which finished top five in scoring in the regular season, to be held without a goal for much longer.

Injury Updates

Not much has changed since the end of Game One. Matt Duchene, John Mitchell, and Cory Sarich are still out and I’d be surprised if they played at all in Minnesota. Depending on how the next two games go, we could see at least one of them back, but Patrick Roy isn’t going to make changes if he doesn’t have to and the more time those three have to rest, the better.

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