Colorado Avalanche Must Show Killer Instinct against Arizona

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 27: Nathan MacKinnon
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 27: Nathan MacKinnon /

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Arizona Coyotes for an important matinee game. The Avs must win this game.

The Arizona Coyotes are not a great team. Granted, they’re on pace for a better finish than Colorado showed last season. However, their historically poor start put them in, well, a poor spot.

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss that, frankly, they were lucky to get. Overall, the Avs got two out of four points on their roadie. Weirdly, their last three games went to overtime, and the Avs lost all three.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, beat the Canucks in Vancouver on Wednesday. They also perpetrated this:

Yeah, no idea.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: March 10, 1:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), FS-A (‘Yotes feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Unleash the Nate Dawg

More from Mile High Sticking

The Colorado Avalanche are in the playoff race because of one factor — the MacKinnon factor. Nathan MacKinnon is having more than a career year. He is showing glimpses of why he went first-overall in 2013. He’s showing real star power.

MacKinnon has already eclipsed the 30-goal mark, a career-high. He also leads the team with 79 points, also a career best.

Before his shoulder injury, he was seriously challenging Tampa Bay’s Nikita Zadorov for top points producer in the entire NHL. His name is bandied about for the Hart Trophy as team MVP — and there’s no question he means more to Colorado than probably any other player on any other team right now.

The Coyotes have some very good players. They do not have a Nate Dawg. If MacKinnon gets fired up in front of the the home crowd, he could very well take the game over all by himself.

Playoff Run

The other main key to the game is that the Colorado Avalanche are playing at home. They have been utterly dominant on home ice, with a 70% win percentage. That dominance is another part of the reason they’re even in playoff contention — they’re a lot more lackluster on the road.

Rookie center Tyson Jost acknowledges the importance of playing well in front of the home crowd:

"“We are excited we have a good home record, but we just got to keep that up, we can’t just keep talking about it. We got to keep producing at home, and it’s obviously nice we are comfortable here… We are excited for [the Coyotes game]. It’s going to be a big game for us and a big two points.”"

Speaking of playoff contention, for those of you keeping track, I’ve surmised the Colorado Avalanche need 97 points to earn a wild card spot. Going into this afternoon’s game, they have 78 and 15 games remaining. Today is one of eight home games.

So, the Avalanche need 19 points in their 15 games. They play so well at home, the lion’s share must come in Pepsi Center. I think they need to win six of those eight home games. They’re facing some tough teams, including some they’re fighting for the final playoff berth.

The Arizona Coyotes are not a playoff-bound team. The Avalanche have to show enough killer instinct at home to not play down to their level. If the score ends us being 7-0 in favor of the Avs, so be it. If it was fine for Vegas to beat Colorado that way, it’s fine for Colorado to beat Arizona that way.

If they even treat the Coyotes like they’re the (hated) Minnesota Wild, whom they’ve trounced 7-1 and 7-2 at the Pepsi Center, that’s fine, too. Colorado needs the “easy” points to make up for the harder points coming up.

Next: Avs Roundtable: Making the Playoffs

The Colorado Avalanche have already (embarrassingly) lost to the Coyotes on home ice once this season. This is their final contest in Denver against Arizona. They did beat the Coyotes in Arizona 6-2 on December 23. This is the final meeting of the season for the two teams. The Avs need to win the series with a win at home.