Colorado Avalanche Going Hunting for Predators

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“We’ve got to be loyal to the fans and play for them.” ~Matt Duchene

Tonight is Game 80 of the Colorado Avalanche season. Even though the Avalanche have already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they are not getting ready to play meaningless hockey. Rather, as veteran Jarome Iginla puts it, they are playing hockey that is meaningless to the playoff picture.

Every player interviewed recently as well as head coach Patrick Roy has talked about how the team wants to finish off this season, in front of the home crowd at Pepsi Center, on a positive note. So, Game 80 for the Colorado Avalanche sees them host the division rival Nashville Predators for the fifth and final time.

Storyline

Playing for Pride and Team

The Avalanche know they put themselves in the situation of not making the playoffs. During post-game and post-practice press conferences, the players talked about the necessity for playing good hockey for the remainder of the season.

Veteran Alex Tanguay, who’s missing the playoffs for the first time ever in burgundy and blue, talked about being professional for the “people in the stands.” He added:

"“We owe it to those fans to give it as good of an effort as we can.”"

Tanguay also talked about setting the stage for next season by putting a “good taste in our mouth for the start of next year.”

Keys to the Game

Sprinting Out of the Gates

Playing catch-up hockey is wearying. Sure, the Avalanche are known as the Cardiac Kids because of their third period — and final minute — comebacks. However, finding that intensity is going to be impossible without the promise of important points to win for.

The Avalanche have gone 1-2-1 against the Predators this season. However, the Predators have been struggling of late, going 0-1-3 in their last five contests. As center Matt Duchene would say, the Avs can put the boot on the throat, show the killer instinct of winner by exploiting the Preds while they’re down.

Shoot the Puck

After hearing the disheartening news that they’d been eliminated, the Avalanche managed only a disheartening 10 shots on goal against the LA Kings. Granted head coach Patrick Roy pointed out that the game notes were odd  — captain Gabriel Landeskog wasn’t credited with a shot despite the fact that the Avs lone goal came on a rebound from his shot. No matter how you look at it, the Kings outshot the Avalanche.

That’s been the story of the season. And if the Avalanche really want to set the stage for next year, they should go back to their vows of getting a minimum of 30 shots per game. Shoot the puck, shoot it often, and definitely shoot on the power play.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Not

The Predators themselves have been pretty not hot. In fact, fellow Fansided blog Predlines has taken to calling their recent play the Great Losing Skid of 2015. More of that, please.

Hot

Avalanche forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog — the young core of the team — have been leading the way for the final stretch of the season. We all knew they had it in them.

Tyson “Fourth 50-Point Defenseman in Avs History” Barrie hasn’t been too shabby either. In fact, if you haven’t heard the stat by now, the Colorado Avalanche are the only team in the NHL with six players who have 50+ points. Iginla and Tanguay round out that grouping.

The game starts at 7:00 PM and will be broadcast on Altitude TV. Goalie Semyon Varlamov will start. Erik Johnson is definitely not playing.

Next: Final Report From Avs Practice

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