Avalanche vs Wild: How The Top 6 Stack Up


The Colorado Avalanche are set to host the Minnesota Wild on opening night. Festivities, including Avalanche players strolling the red carpet, begin at 3:00 pm on October 8.

Avalanche fans have been anticipating this game for a long time. The off season was too long. We’re also looking for some redemption against this team that has been so pesky. We once fought our battles with Original 6 teams — time to shake off these upstarts once and for all.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at how the two teams match up.

Avalanche vs Wild Top 6 From Last Season

We don’t know exactly how the top two lines are going to shake out, especially since head coach Patrick Roy has intimated that Nathan MacKinnon will be the third line center. However, it’s bound to look something like this:

Gabriel Landeskog-Carl Soderberg-Mikhail Grigorenko

Alex Tanguay-Matt Duchene-Jarome Iginla

On the other hand, according to Daily Faceoff, the Wild’s line’s may look something like this:

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter

Last season Zach Parise was both the points leader (62) and goals leader (33) for the Minnesota Wild. After that came Jason Pominville for points (54) and then Thomas Vanek (52). Right wing Nino Niederreiter was actually second in goals (24) but seventh in overall points (37). All are returning this season.

By comparison, Jarome Iginla and Gabriel Landeskog were tied for first in points (59), with Iginla first for goals (29) and Landeskog second (23). Six players had 50+ points, five of whom have returned.

The Avalanche seem to have a decent advantage there, though one of those 50+ points guys is actually a defenseman. (Tyson Barrie, of course.)

Avalanche vs Wild Size and Playing Style

It gets interesting when you note that in the Avalanche top-six, only center Matt Duchene is under 6 feet tall (5-foot-11). Only Alex Tanguay is under 200 pounds (194). The others hover around 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.

For the Wild, two players are shorter than 6 feet — Zach Parise (5-foot-11) and Mikael Granlund (5-foot-10). Both are under 200 pounds, as is Jason Pomminville. The others hover around 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.

Concerning styles, you’ve got speed and skill with Matt Duchene. Mikhail Grigorenko and Alex Tanguay are both pure goal scorers, while Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla are both power forwards. Carl Soderberg is a decent two-way player and a good play maker.

For the Wild, Zach Parise is also a speedy goal scorer. Mikael Granlund is a great play maker. Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter and Mikko Koivu are great two way players. Thomas Vanek is a natural goal scorer. (Note — all scouting comments are based on Hockey’s Future reports.)

I find it interesting that the Wild have three solid two-way players and no natural power forwards, while the Avalanche have two power forwards and only one really two-way player.  Both have great goal scorers and a talented speedster. (I’m pretty sure Duchene’s faster.)

I think those differences related to hockey systems.

Avalanche vs Wild Systems

I’m not going to claim to be an expert in the Minnesota Wild’s style of hockey. In fact, I’ve been known to call it constipated hockey because it’s clogged in the middle.

Zach Roethlisberger of Gone Puck Wild calls the style “Mike Yeo’s defensive-minded system.” I call that po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to to my description.

I’ve been known to say the Colorado Avalanche play heart attack hockey. It’s always exciting — sometimes for the wrong reasons.

In fact, head coach Patrick Roy has committed to leading the team into a speedy game ripe with scoring chances. He and GM Joe Sakic also deliberately added size in order to add physicality to the game.

Predictions for the Avalanche vs Wild

What’s all that going to mean on opening night and across the two teams’ series?

Well, we already know the Minnesota Wild are going to try and shut down our top-six. We already know our top-six are going to create scoring chances on both ends of the ice.

The Wild’s top-six isn’t any different from last season’s. The Avalanche’s is. Colorado has added size — and the grit that goes with it — along with some extra play making ability. Will that be enough to bust Minnesota Wild’s game wide open?

That’s the hope, isn’t it, Avs Nation? I’d like to say the game will be a crazy one, with the Avalanche scoring at least four goals.

As long as the can minimize the Wild to three or fewer, that should be just fine.

Next: Etiquette Guide for Wild Fans

Next: Avs Should be Confident Opening Night

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