Colorado Avalanche Need to Earn Points in Columbus

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Nick Foligno
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Nick Foligno /

The Colorado Avalanche need to play simple hockey to earn important playoff points against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Colorado Avalanche continue their playoff hunt when they face the Blue Jackets in Columbus. The BJs are also in the playoff hunt, adding to the intensity of the game.

The Avalanche have a 38-14-3-1(ties) record against the Blue Jackets. This includes a 2-0 victory at Pepsi Center on January 4, 2018.

Colorado is coming off an overtime loss in Chicago against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Columbus solved the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, beating them 4-1.

Tyson Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon have points streaks on the line. For Barrie, it’s a four-game streak that’s seen him record two goals and four assists. For MacKinnon — who was the NHL’s first star of the week for the second time this season — it’s a six-game streak that’ seen him record seven goals and six assists.

Rookie Tyson Jost said of MacKinnon:

"“He’s been unbelievable… On the ice you can see he is so dominant. He is a man among boys out there.”"

I’d have to agree with that assessment. I actually cannot believe sometimes what I’m seeing when MacKinnon has the puck.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: March 8, 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), FS-O (BJs feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Playoff Run

As I noted above, both teams are making a run at the playoffs. At the time of writing, the Jackets were in possession of the final wild card berth in the east. However, Florida was two points behind them with three games in hand. Columbus had also won their last two and will be trying to string together three in a row.

The Colorado Avalanche have 16 games remaining — eight home, and eight away. I’ve opined they need to earn six points on the road to combine with a hopeful 12 points at home to earn their playoff berth. A win tonight would certainly help pad those numbers.

If the Avs were in the Eastern Conference, their 77 points would put them solidly in possession of the first wild card berth.

Keys for the Colorado Avalanche

More from Mile High Sticking

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to state that the Avs need to play the full 60 minutes. Indeed, they come out flat so often on the road, I’ve stated they need to make coming out hot part of their road identity.

As reader Bear42 pointed out in the comments section, the shooters need to try fewer fancy passes and fancy shots. They, like we, love those top shelf goals. However, we just need goals. Get them dirty, even if it’s off Alexander Kerfoot‘s backside or Mikko Rantanen‘s, er, cup.

Bear42 also suggests the Avs defenders ice the puck if necessary to get it up and out of the offensive zone. I’d say this is definitely necessary when the Avs start facing their own chaos in front of the net. It’s looking good like Jonathan Bernier, freshly returned from concussion, will be in net. The Avs players need to make his first game back a little easy.

Finally, for the love of hockey, Tyson Barrie, do not drop pass to Nathan MacKinnon on the power play. We all know you’re going to do it — and we don’t have a staff dedicated to watching film and creating strategies against you. And just keep the puck in the zone. Samuel Girard did it during the power play, and it led to scoring chances.

Better yet, Coach Bednar, can you just put Girard on the first power play unit? (I have now almost assured Barrie gets a power play goal — you’re welcome.)

Next: Strategies for the Road Trip

This is the only time Colorado will travel to Columbus this season, and it’s the final game of their two-game series.