Colorado Avalanche Top Six Ready for the St. Louis Blues


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The Colorado Avalanche ever have trouble against their Central Division rivals, the St. Louis Blues, and last season was no different. The Avalanche beat the Blues only once, a lovely 5-0 right before Christmas. However, overall the team went 1-2-2 against the Blues.

This season should be different. Part of the problem with the Blues is they epitomize everything the Central Division presents — they’re big, mean, gritty and great with puck possession. Well, Avalanche execs went out and got some big, mean, gritty players who are good at puck possession.

Though the Colorado Avalanche don’t meet the Blues for the first time until December 13, let’s look at how the Avs’ top-six should pack up against theirs.

Big thanks to Kate Cimini, editor of Bleedin’ Blue, for giving us some insight into the Blues.

Kate’s article

First Line Comparison

Jarome Iginla-Matt Duchene-Alex Tanguay


Jaden Schwartz – Paul Stastny – David Backes

Let’s look at the Blues line first, according to Cimini:

Jaden Schwartz: Schwartz isn’t large enough to go up against someone of Iginla’s size, but he’s speedy and skilled with the puck, making him just the person to challenge Tanguay for possession.

Paul Stastny: A great playmaker and good passer, Stastny would anchor this line well against Colorado. A two-way player, he might have a little trouble against Duchene’s speed, but his patience on the ice could also tip the scales his way.

David Backes: Backes is a physical, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of player who leads his line in hits and grit: full of passion and persistence. He’s a shutdown player who’s more than up to the challenge of fighting off Iginla. He has a sixth sense when it comes to scoring goals and is one of the toughest players out there to neutralize.

Remember when Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene were teammates and effected that Bang-Bang Dance at the end of wins? Yeah, that’s over. Stastny and Duchene actually faced off against each other in the 2014 Sochi Olympics game. Duchene won all but one of their seven faceoffs. Duchene also can skate circles around Stastny. Plus, there was that time Stastny helped the Avs one last time by directing Duchene’s shot into his own net…

David Backes is a big, bad mudder, but it won’t take Jarome Iginla alone to back him down. Backes seems to like going for the smaller Avs players. Well, here was Duchene’s response:

Dec 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) and St. Louis Blues center David Backes (42) exchange words during the second period at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Tanguay has the soft hand of a milk maid — meaning he can thread a pass or a goal. He led the NHL in shooting percentage among regulars last season — around 21%, though he was 25% for most of the season. If Jaden Schwartz is lucky, he might learn a thing or two.

Second Line Comparison

Gabriel Landeskog-Carl Soderberg-Nathan MacKinnon


Alexander Steen – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen: Steen is a smart player who makes big bodies look foolish. He can switch direction in a blink and is highly creative on the ice. Good two-way player whose physicality comes out when faced with a challenge. He’d shine against MacKinnon’s play, which would require out-of-the-box thinking.

Jori Lehtera: Has unbelievable chemistry with Tarasenko. Lehtera is a strong playmaker with strong vision and his two-way play makes him a tough one to fool. A match between him and Soderberg would be a fascinating one, with a lot of back-and-forth.

Vladimir Tarasenko: One of our best players, Tarasenko (or, “Tank,” as he is sometimes called, after his habit of blowing through lines with ease), has hands like butter and is a big body to match. He lead the NHL in postseason goals long after the Blues were eradicated from the race. His play against Landeskog would get physical, but Volodya isn’t afraid to do so.

Nov 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) checks St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) into the boards during the first period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Well, isn’t that cute — Vlad the Drag has a Russian diminutive name? I jest — Tarasenko is a freaking awesome player. So’s Nathan MacKinnon, though, and speedy like a speed racer. It sure would be fun seeing the two of them blaze past each other and practice their puck skills.

I’m going to go opposite again and compare captain Gabriel Landeskog to Alex Steen. Steen may make big bodies look foolish, but Landy just makes opponents hurt. Whether he hits them, fights them or just scores on them, Gabriel Landeskog is a well-rounded player.

I concur with Cimini in that the Soderberg-Lehtera match-up is an intriguing one. I’m at a definite disadvantage in matching them because Soderberg hasn’t played with the Avs yet. He’s a workhorse, though, and renowned for his two-way skills.

Next time we’ll add defensemen to the mix. For now, though, what do you think, Avs Nation. What are the Colorado Avalanche’s chances against the St. Louis Blues?

Next: Division Rivals: Avs vs Blues

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