Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild Game Five Preview (Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One)

Back To Minnesota

Breaking News: The Colorado Avalanche hasn’t played well against the Minnesota Wild in Minnesota. Even though both losses were only one goal games, the Avs were thoroughly outplayed and could’ve lost both games by at least five goals if it weren’t for Semyon Varlamov. Minnesota will get the matchups they want, which have been extremely important in this series, but the Avs need to find a way to work around the tough matchups and come up with some offense.

Closing Out

The knock on this Avalanche team coming into the playoffs was, “they are too young and inexperienced.” That quickly went out the window when they took the first two games. Now comes the hard part. The most difficult win to get in a playoff series is the fourth one, especially when you haven’t done it before. As a coach, Patrick Roy has never done it. As a captain, Gabriel Landeskog has never done it. As a goalie, Semyon Varlamov has done it. In fact, he’s a won a game seven. And it’s very possible that the Avs, like they’ve done all series, will once again lean on Varlamov to win this series.

Matt Duchene Returns?

It’s very likely that Matt Duchene will return for game six, marking the first time he’d step on the ice since March 27th. From the sound of things, if Duchene plays, he’d see limited time 5-on-5 while also being utilized on the power play. Of course that’s what everyone says, when the game starts and things play out, we’ll see if Roy sticks to that plan. Even though Duchene’s return will likely mean the exit of Joey Hishon, a 4th line consisting of Duchene and Hishon could be a heck of a fourth line.

Special Teams/Officiating

The referees haven’t been good in this series. Contrary to Wild fan beliefs, the bad officiating has gone both ways. I don’t expect it to be any better in game six, but the Avalanche power play must get better. The return of Duchene, on paper, sounds like it will help, but I expect Duchene to be a little bit rusty and his timing slightly off. I still put the onus on Nathan Mackinnon, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog to be better with the man advantage.

Injury Updates

While it’s great news that Duchene is back in the lineup, even in a limited role, there’s no new updates on Cory Sarich and John Mitchell. It doesn’t sound like either man will play in this series, but hopefully they can get healthy enough to be on the ice if the Avs advance.

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Tags: Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene

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