Colorado Avalanche Fan’s Playoff Preview: April 17


On the eve of the NHL Draft Lottery, those of use without a team in the playoffs are a little preoccupied. Colorado Avalanche fans, amongst others, have visions of Conner McDavid dangling and deking in our heads.

However, there’s some great hockey happening tonight. The first two nights of the playoffs have already heralded upsets — really St. Louis? Tonight’s a new night, though, as eight teams who are really starting to hate each other — or are renewing the hate — face off for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ottawa Senators at Montreal, last game 4-3 Montreal

152. Final. 0. 91. 1

There is some bad blood between these two teams. It almost feels as if it transcends hockey — like it’s the whole Francophile vs Anglophile debate so hot in Canada.

That said, the Senators came on strong and goalie Andrew Hammond was valiant. However, they couldn’t overcome Montreal’s superior compete level — or PK Subban’s superior tomahawk skills.

Key to the Game: The Ottawa Senators need to shoot the puck. Montreal goalie Carey Price is a brick wall, but even brick walls have chinks. They also need to tighten up the defense to protect their suddenly-human Hamburglar.

Prediction: Montreal will probably prevail again, maybe 2-0.

New York Islanders at Washington Capitals, last game 4-1 New York

Well, that was embarrassing. Bad enough to lose at home in front of the home fans, but to lose a playoff game 4-1… For the great Alex Ovechkin to be so invisible most of the game…

And then there’s Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who might have the mumps all this time later, might have the Disneyland measles, might have the flu… He’ll power through it, but the young Islander snipers might utilize his playing a notch below his level.

Key to the Game: I didn’t predict the Islanders to upset the Caps, but they’re a young, hungry team that can score goals. The Caps will have to find a way to slow them down and get on the goal-scoring wagon themselves.

Prediction: Islanders, maybe 3-1.

Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators, last game 4-3 Chicago in double OT

1. 94. 0. 151. Final

This is one upset I did predict. The Chicago Blackhawks are a playoff machine. I don’t like it, but it’s true. The Nashville Predators have far less  playoff experience than the Blackhawks, and that became evident when they let Chicago off the ropes when they went up 3-0 early.

Of course, who could have predicted that Stanley Cup champ Corey Crawford would play like Swiss cheese and relative nobody Scott Darling would come in and, well, be the ‘Hawks’ darling?

Key to the Game: Crawford’s back in net tonight. Some people question that, but coach Joel Quenneville calls it a “no-brainer.” He’s a great goalie with so much experience — he just had an off night. The ‘Hawks hope. The Preds are going to have to without one of their key players, though, as Mike Fisher is out with a playoff-vague “lower body injury.”

Prediction: The Preds were so strong at home all season, and they’re not stupid. They probably won’t make the same mistake again. Pred win, 3-2.

Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks, last game 2-1 Calgary

104. Final. 1. 112. 0

Remember that goalie battle in Game 1? Yeah, that was cool. Despite the firepower on both teams, that might be the story of the series. That and the age (Canucks) vs. youth (Flames) storyline. Oh, and there’s that whole steady wins the race (Canucks) vs the Comeback Kids (Flames).

Lots of stories playing out in this series. As an Avs fan, I don’t have a clear dog in this race, though I’d like to see former Avalanche coach Bob Hartley do well.

Key to the Game: Can Vancouver keep rolling out their four lines consistently and still stop Calgary’s resurgent play? If they get ahead again, they’re going to have to follow Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene‘s mantra — boot on the throat, nail in the coffin.

Prediction: Vancouver squeaks one by, maybe taking it to OT, 2-1.

Well, fellow Colorado Avalanche fans, on the eve of the McDavid Sweepstakes, which teams or match ups have you cheering?

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