Colorado Avalanche Preparing for the Foes, St. Louis Blues

Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a save on a shot from St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) makes a save on a shot from St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The enemy, a moniker Colorado Avalanche fans reserve for the insipid beasts we call our foes, and today that foe is the St. Louis Blues.

I’m going to start nice and simple Colorado Avalanche folks. First, did you notice the glove to the face Alexander Steen is receiving from our young “you shall not pass” man in the featured image?

Second, do you remember this?

Yeah, that won’t happen again, at least not from David Backes because he’s gone from the state of blues, finding himself with the Boston Bruins on a ridiculous five-year 30 million dollar contract that won’t conclude until he is 36.

Yeah, that’s good money, and what I mean by that is it’s not good money, and Backes will be a future buy-out.

You know what that also means? The St. Louis Blues need a captain, and the search is still on. My money is on Alex Pietrangelo, any takers?

Unfortunately for the Blues there were also a few other notable departures which they’ll struggle to replace this coming season.

Changes Blues Made in the Offseason

Brian Elliot left via trade to the Calgary Flames, and the Blues got a second rounder out of the deal, and Troy Brouwer didn’t fit into the Blues salary cap plans so he’s going to don a Flames jersey next season as well.

They replaced Troy Brouwer with David Perron on another baffling contract that will see Perron rake in 3.75 million in each of the next two years.

He might be worth that money if he returns to form, but 36 points on the year isn’t worth that money; nonetheless, there are those that think otherwise.

And they replaced Brian Elliot with a solid backup in Carter Hutton, but it’s safe to say that the days of 1a and 1b goaltending in St. Louis are finished. Hutton couldn’t stop a beach ball when he had to take over for Pekka Rinne in the 2013-14 season, so hopefully Jake Allen is ready to lift the heavy load.

However, the Blues got younger, and in all honesty I think they’ll be a more dangerous team with the likes of Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, and Ty Rattie ready to hit the NHL in stride next season.

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Furthermore, Vladimir Tarasenko is always going to be a threat, and if Paul Stastny could get a full season under his belt for the Blues then he would likely be very successful.

Still, with that many young guns on the roster (Stastny excluded) the Blues will certainly be relying on them taking the next step in their development.

Other than the players they lost in free agency there’s no real notable news concerning their offseason.

Oh wait, but they did draft Tage Thompson, a pick we at MHS were hoping might fall to the second round.

He’s a good young power forward with a lot of talent, and figures to find a spot on the second line within a couple years due to the fact that he barely missed eligibility for the 2015 draft.

After all that addition and subtraction the question still remains: did the Blues do enough this offseason to stay competitive in the difficult Central Division?

How the Colorado Avalanche Stack up Against the St. Louis Blues

Since division realignment before the 2013-14 season, the Colorado Avalanche have had middling success against the Blues, accruing a record of 6-7-2 during that span. Success might even be an overstatement, they’ve managed — I think that’s more appropriate.

However, this year the teams are more evenly matched because the Blues are going to have to rely on a lot of young talent in their top six for success, something the Avalanche will also have to do.

Just like Avalanche fans already know that Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie, Gabe Landeskog, and Matt Duchene will be pivotal to the success of the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues also know that Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Paul Stastny are also going to play a large role in how much of a splash they make in the division this coming season.

The Blues may be a little shy of talent — at least proven talent — in their top six, but their supporting cast is well proven, and capable of providing strong bottom six minutes.

Kyle Brodziak, Patrik Berglund, Jori Lehtera, and Scottie Upshall have provided dependable bottom six minutes for a long time (excluding Jori Lehtera’s short stint with the Blues so far), and that trend won’t change next season.

Furthermore, there are a lot of options available for the top six next season.

Ty Rattie turned a lot of heads at the end of last season, and if he’s put in the right role he could thrive in St. Louis, especially considering the lack of depth the Blues have at right wing beyond Tarasenko.

Much like the Blues, the Avalanche are also sporting a lack of depth at the right wing position, so Mikko Rantanen figures to be a large part of the success story that either will or will not take place in Colorado this coming season.

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The Avalanche have also accrued dependable depth in their bottom six recently, and next season they figure to have one of the deepest lineups they’ve had in a long time.

Players like Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Joe Colborne, and John Mitchell will provide some necessary depth for the Avalanche, while also providing the versatility the Avalanche will need when injuries inevitably strike.

If the core of the Avalanche can step up then they figure to be a formidable threat in the West next season, and certainly a tough opponent in their own division.

If the Blues can continue to develop their young talent while getting prolonged contribution from some of their older and more proven players, then they will also be a formidable threat in the West, and certainly a playoff team.

Nonetheless, both teams are going to be relying on young talent to get them over the hump next season. And, the Blues — unlike the Avs — will be relying on replacements for some of their top players last season in order to be successful.

It’s going to be fun watching these two teams play against each other next season, but I’m also starving for hockey in a bad way, a way so bad that I’ve begun depending on baseball for entertainment, or… rather distracted nonchalant viewing.

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Predictions for the Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues

This article finally got tough… No, that’s not true I suppose, writing anything where I have to research another team in detail is always a bit tedious, but that’s the name of the game when you’re trying to put accurate information to the page.

Enough deviation and stalling tactics, it’s time to predict the success the Avalanche will have next season against the Blues.

Based off of the last three seasons, the Avalanche are likely to experience a mixture of absolute dominance, OT/SO losses, and a complete lack of regard for competition on the night they play the Blues.

That’s how it’s gone over the past three years; the Avalanche have either put on a massacre when playing the Blues, found themselves lost in a close game, or shown up to the rink with their heads in the clouds.

Here’s the schedule of games next season:

Colorado Avalanche @ St. Louis Blues: November 6, 2016

Colorado Avalanche Vs. St. Louis Blues: March 5, 2017

Colorado Avalanche Vs. St. Louis Blues: March 21, 2017

Colorado Avalanche Vs. St. Louis Blues: March 31, 2017

Colorado Avalanche @ St. Louis Blues: April 9, 2017

As you can see we play them relatively early in the season, but late enough to get comfortable with line chemistry and systems. Then, we don’t play them until four months later, bringing an onslaught of Avs Vs. Blues hockey where we play them four times within the span of one month.

This year, I’m going to don the cap of optimism and say that the Avalanche eviscerate the Blues next season. It’s going to be a 5-0 sweep by the ‘Lanche, and the Blues will actually have something to go home and write sad songs about.

Don’t worry, I’ll appease the masses with reasons explaining my level of optimism.

My first reason is that we don’t play the Blues until November 6, which will give the Avalanche plenty of time to shake the beginning of season woes we’ve become accustomed to over the last two years, while also giving them time to acclimate to the new systems inevitably associated with a new head coach.

Second, that November 6 game will also give whoever our new coach is going to be plenty of time to assess his lineup and shake the lines to better suit chemistry and success. Honestly, I wrote this before Patrick Roy’s resignation so that first sentence included Roy’s name to begin with.

Now that we are in search of a new head coach there is no telling how the young players will be utilized. But I still believe that Joe Sakic is seeking a direction for the Colorado Avalanche that involves the utilization of our young up-and-coming players on this season’s roster.

Therefore, I believe that Mikko Rantanen will be in the top six by November 6, and he’s my dark horse to win the Calder Trophy next season, so he’ll be smoking fools by then.

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My third and final reason is that the Blues goaltending and defense is going to be a factor of uncertainty next season.

They have relied on solid goaltending for too long, and Jake Allen is not going to take well to becoming the full starter in St. Louis; meanwhile, Carter Hutton will struggle to provide relief when Allen finds himself in need of a breather.

That factor coupled with the fact that the Blues will be implementing some new faces on the blueline with more regularity and a small amount of leadership amongst the group — even with Ken Hitchcock’s systems — will be a recipe for controlled disaster.

I say controlled because I think ‘ol Hitchcock will keep things even keel and lead the Blues to the playoffs in his final season behind the bench, but I don’t believe that it will be an easy road. I also believe that the Avalanche are going to strangle that note and make it sing high pop song melodies about how they should Shake it Off and move on.

Which means what for the Avalanche? Have you not heard by now? The Colorado Avalanche are a bubble team, like they are every year until they won’t be anymore.

The Predators, Stars, and Blues will lead the way in the Division, while the ‘Hawks and Avalanche grab the wildcard spots by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins.

And that’s all for now folks, thank you for stopping by.