Colorado Avalanche: Significance of the Ducks vs Hawks Series


As Colorado Avalanche players and fans lounge about watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, a significant series is taking place. You could make a case that both Conference Finals series are significant since the outcome dictates which two teams play for the Stanley Cup. Only one series has real significance for the Avs Nation, though — the Anahiem Ducks vs Chicago Blackhawks games.

As the two teams battle it out on ice, a little bit of the fate of the Colorado Avalanche gets played out. Currently Colorado is built more like the Blackhawks, both teams with some small forwards and some offense-minded defensemen. However, if head coach Patrick Roy has his way — and he will since he’s also the VP of hockey operations — the Avalanche are going to start increasing in size.

So, what should Avs fans be watching in this series, besides the final result?

Size Matters

The Anaheim Ducks have the ability to dominate the Chicago Blackhawks physically. They also have the ability to slow the Hawks down.

However, that’s not all their size affords them. Indeed, the Ducks are using their size to dominate puck possession. Once one of their big players gets the puck, it’s hard to force him off of it.

The Colorado Avalanche are already becoming a more physical team. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is a power forward, and his alternate captains — Jarome Iginla and Cody McLeod — are also renowned for being physical. Even forwards Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon have gotten in on the rough play.

However, the Avs can also learn how to use their size to dominate puck possession.

Stay Speedy

While the Colorado Avalanche could do a better job of possessing the neutral zone, the absolute last thing anyone wants is a neutral zone trap. The Avs have some of the fastest forwards and defensemen in the NHL — there’s no reason to play down this quality.

Look at the Chicago Blackhawks. When they are able to breakaway, it is some exciting hockey. And they use that speed to their advantage. How many times have we seen winger Patrick Kane fire up the rockets to speed into the offensive zone? And I daresay he’s not as fast as Duchene and MacKinnon.

Duchene stayed speedy this season, as did defenseman Erik Johnson. MacKinnon and defenseman Tyson Barrie had speedy spurts. They all need to channel their inner Speed Racer and leave opponents in their wake like the Hawks do.

Be Offensive

Still going with the Blackhawks, another area in which they excel is offense production. They’ve got goal-scoring dynamos in Kane and captain Jonathan Toews. They’ve got lots of guys who can score. We all hope the Colorado Avalanche find their scoring touch again next season.

Actually, the Ducks aren’t any slouches in the scoring department. Witness alternate captain Corey Perry, who seems to be trying to make Patrick Kane and the Hawks look like slouches.

Speaking of Corey Perry…

Be Offensive, Part 2

No offense, but hockey isn’t a gentleman’s game. True the players themselves tend to be decent, well-mannered family guys off the ice. However, on the ice they are aggressive jerks of the highest order.

Perry is renowned for that kind of behavior — so much so that color analyst Mike Milbury remarked how he’d react if he had to play against Corey Perry:

"“If I were playing against Corey Perry, I’d probably want to hurt him in some painful and permanent way.”"

Needless to say, that’s going too far. Perry’s on-ice antics tend to be almost sophomoric, the types of actions that don’t hurt but irritate. You picture him as the kid who spent many days in the principal’s office.

That kind of behavior is obviously effective. The Avalanche certainly know how to get under opponents’ skin. Landeskog and Johnson both appear to have mean streaks on the ice. And then there’s Cody McLeod.. I daresay he’s just as annoying as Corey Perry.

What else to you think the Colorado Avalanche can take from the Duck-Hawks series?

Next: Avs Lessons from IIHF Worlds

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