Division Rivals: Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators


The Colorado Avalanche were fair to middling against their Central Division rival Nashville Predators. The Avalanche went 2-2-1 against the Nashville Predators this season. One of the losses was one of eight times the Avalanche got shut out this season.

The Avalanche and Predators seemed fairly well-matched considering Nashville spent most of the season on top of the Central Division with the Avs at the bottom. The two teams battled pretty well throughout the season. The shutout came in December at home — one of the two wins was part of the trinity of wins that the Avs rode to end their season.

December 9, 2014

This game was so frustrating for Avalanche fans — and presumably for the Avalanche players as well. The Avalanche lost 3-0, but the score is not a clear indicator of how the game went. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was just that good, making 26 saves. Colorado rookie goalie Calvin Pickard was actually the better of the two, making 34 saves. He only allowed one — the other two were empty-netters.

This game was simply one of those tight games in which a tiny mistake costs the game. In this case, it was early in the season and offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie was still working on the shut down aspects of his game. He was out-played by rookie winger Filip Forsberg — while Avalanche fans tried not to lament a new Forsberg in the game.

This was also a game of special teams as Colorado’s penalty kill stifled six power plays yet failed to score on three extra man advantages.

January 27, 2015

This late-January game at Bridgestone Arena was classic Avalanche hockey. The Avalanche took three penalties while only drawing two. They failed to capitalize on the man advantage but did give up a power play goal. They relied too heavily on their goalie, Semyon Varlamov, who faced 39 shots to backup goalie Carter Hutton’s 24.

Oh, and the Avs forced overtime with a last second goal by a defenseman pinching in, No joke — this time it wasn’t Tyson Barrie but Nick Holden, but the formula was the same. Never mind, halfway through the overtime the Predators came on like gangbusters, and the Avalanche lost 4-3.

January 30, 2015

Neither team had to wait for a rematch. After facing each other in Nashville, they faced off just a few days later in Colorado. This time it was the Avs doing the shutting out as they peppered another Nashville goalie, Marek Mazanek, with 27 shots. Lo and behold, Varlamov only faced 23. In fact, he joked that he got bored. The Avs won 3-0.

Unfortunately, despite the win, this was also a game in which the inepttitude of the Avalanche’s power play was grossly apparent. The Avs had a ton of power play time in the third period when the Predators’ leading scorer Mike Ribeiro was assessed minor and major penalties and was tossed from the game. Yet the Avs failed to score with the man advantage.

February 24. 2015

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The Nashville Predators had a hot home record for much of the season. Going into Bridgestone Arena seemed more like facing fire and brimstone at times. Indeed, the Avalanche played twice in Nashville and won neither contest.

This was another frustrating contest for the Avalanche — one in which Varlamov showed his humanity. He allowed four goals in 29 shots, which isn’t atrocious, but head coach Patrick Roy still decided to replace him with backup goalie Reto Berra. Berra turned away all 11 shotes he faced, but it wasn’t enough. The Avs lost 5-2.

On the bright side, they managed a power play goal, center John Mitchell’s seventh of the season. This was also the game in which Landeskog participated in his second captain fight of the season, against Shea Weber.

April 7, 2015

The final game of the series was one of the feel-good wins at the end of the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog promised the Avalanche would put forth their best effort for the final three games in front of the home fans, and that’s what they did. Now, they failed to score on any of their three power plays, and even allowed a power play goal, but the game still ended up a 3-2 win for the Avs.

Once again, Varlamov had to make way too many saves — 42 (he stopped 40) — while Rinne faced only 23 (stopping 20). However, this is also the game in which center Joey Hishon finally earned his first NHL goal, which happened to be the game winner.


The games against the Nashville Predators tended to highlight the Colorado Avalanche’s weakness in play. At different times they struggled to score, allowed too many shots, took too many penalties and failed in the power play. They also didn’t win on the road against the Predators, though they did earn a point with an overtime victory.

I’d like to be able to say the Avs got better against the Preds as the season wore on, but the truth is their play was up and down throughout the season. In short, they played inconsistent Avalanche hockey against Nashville the entire season.


The chinks started showing up in the Nasvhille Preadators’ armor late in the season. The Preds, like last year’s Avs, probably played beyond their ability for most of the season. They came tumbling down late, but had positioned themselves well early on. In fact, the Avalanche could learn from that early positioning. Toward the end the Avalanche were playing better hockey than the Predators, but they’d dug themselves into too deep a hole early in the season.

Oh, and the Avalanche have got to figure out their power play. They lost a few one-goal games because of inability to score with the man advantage.

Defensively, the Avs are also built like the Preds. However, instead of pairing a shutdown defenseman with an offensive D-man as the Avs do, the Preds feature the one-two punch of Shea Weber and Roman Josi. I hesitate to suggest it, but… maybe Zach Redmond or Nick Holden could partner Erik Johnson on the top pairing. It might be something worth exploring anyway.

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