Colorado Avalanche Will Show their Mettle in Calgary

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 27: Nathan MacKinnon
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 27: Nathan MacKinnon /

The Colorado Avalanche will conclude their road trip in Calgary against the Flames. They need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Colorado Avalanche will play one of their most important games of the year this afternoon when they face the Flames in Calgary. Both teams are in the exact same spot — fighting each other for that last playoff spot.

At the time of writing, Calgary was two points closer with 71 points to the Avalanche’s 69. Colorado has two games in hand over Calgary.

The Flames are coming off a 5-2 victory over the Coyotes on Thursday. Colorado is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Oilers in Edmonton, also on Thursday.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 24, 2:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), SNW (Flames feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Avs to Show Their Mettle

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Let’s return back to that overtime loss in Edmonton. It should not have been an overtime loss in Edmonton. It should have been a full-fledged blowout of the Oilers over the Avalanche. It was so bad, even Grandpa Jost said the only reason the two teams had a contest was because of Semyon Varlamov.

I knew this would happen. Whenever a major player gets injured — in this case cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson — the Avalanche players have two reactions. Their first reaction in the first game is to band together and have a decent showing. Their second reaction, in the second game, is to act like Chicken Little — the sky is falling.

The way the Vancouver and Edmonton games went didn’t surprise me in the least. I don’t know if it’s delayed shock or or an inability to sustain stepping up. However, the Avs always follow that pattern of first dealing with the situation and then falling apart.

It’s what happened after Nathan MacKinnon’s injury, too. The first game, against the Oilers, the Avalanche pulled out a 4-3 overtime win. The first game after Johnson’s injury, the Avs pulled out a 5-4 overtime win. Then, after Nate, Colorado was shut out in Winnipeg, 3-0.

After EJ’s loss, Varlamov kept them in a game they had no business competing in — to the point that even coach Jared Bednar said clearly of their overtime loss, “We’re lucky to get a point. That’s my thoughts on it.”

It’s the third game that’s telling. After MacKinnon, the Colorado Avalanche went on to win a home game 3-1 against the San Jose Sharks. Today is the third game after Johnson’s injury — the one that will prove their mettle.

Next: 5 Players Who Must Work Together w/o EJ

After today’s matinee game, the Colorado Avalanche will have a nice, four-game homestand, all against Western Conference — and a couple Central Division — rivals. But today’s game sets the tone for how the team will band together or fall apart in the wake of Erik Johnson’s injury.