Colorado Avalanche Must Find Road Identity in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN - NOVEMBER 24: (L-R) Matt Nieto
ST. PAUL, MN - NOVEMBER 24: (L-R) Matt Nieto /

The Colorado Avalanche need at least a point, preferably two, against the (hated) Minnesota Wild.

It’s down to the wire for the Colorado Avalanche. I’m not talking about the playoffs or how few overall games the Avs have. I’m talking about the road games. Including tonight, Colorado has seven more games on the road.

It’s time for the Avalanche to find their road identity. Or, rather, it’s time for Colorado to change their road identity from “roll over” to “fight-fight-fight.”

The Avalanche are coming off a decisive win at home against the Arizona Coyotes. Nathan MacKinnon is riding an eight-game points streak (7 goals, 9 assists). Tyson Barrie is riding a six-game points streak (4 goals, 5 assists).

The Minnesota Wild are coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers’ Conor McDavid. Ha ha! We don’t care if any of their players are riding points streaks because we hate the Mild.

Let’s get on that.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: March 13, 6:30 pm MT
TV Networks: NBCSN (Tonight is the Avs’s only nationally televised game.)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Coming Out Hot

The Colorado Avalanche usually win when they score first. Scoring first is essential when they’re playing on the road. This is especially true in Minnesota — the Wild play sticky hockey at home.

Colorado needs to manage their recurring problem of not playing a full 60 minutes, especially on the road. A good start to that is, well, a good start. They need to come out with their skates moving and their focus razor sharp.

If they come out hot and raring to go, they have a good chance of scoring first and, ultimately, winning the game. Our captain, Gabriel Landeskog, said the same:

"“Something we have talked about a lot is we seem to feed off of a good start.”"

Playing Mean

Apparently the Colorado Avalanche beating the Wild 7-1 and 7-2 their last two meetings embarrassed the Wild. Minnesota Eric Staal forward put it thus:

"“I think it’s in the back of your mind for sure, they spanked us pretty good twice in their barn.”"

He then said some inspirational words for the Wild that we don’t care about because we hate Minny.

In that vein, the Avalanche need to add to their road identity by playing mean. They need to finish their checks and get downright nasty in the corners. It shouldn’t be an issue because I really am NOT the only one who hates the Wild. The players themselves have said they get up for these games even more.

That said, Nathan MacKinnon should NOT fight tonight. Leave that to Nikita Zadorov or even Blake Comeau.

MacKinnon Factor

colorado avalanche
ST. PAUL, MN – NOVEMBER 24: Alex Stalock /

The Colorado Avalanche have a not-so-secret weapon — Nathan MacKinnon. In those two home games, MacKinnon recorded three goals and five assists. What’s more, he is not just Colorado’s hottest player, he’s the hottest in the NHL right now. He has the highest points per game of any player. The only reason he’s not still challenging hard for the scoring title is because he suffered that shoulder injury that kept him out eight games.

Nathan MacKinnon is better than anything the Minnesota Wild have to offer.

That said, the Wild might concentrate all their


defense on Nate. That’s ok. A few rookies — J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, and Samuel Girard — have also historically played well against Minnesota. Tyson Barrie isn’t too shabby against the hated green folk, and our cap has historically gone hard against Minny.

But we’d all love it if MacKinnon continued to own the Wild.

Playoff Standings

More from Mile High Sticking

The Colorado Avalanche didn’t get any help in yesterday’s games. The LA Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks, which isn’t exactly surprising. However, that means they catapulted straight into third seed in the Pacific Division. The St. Louis Blues beat the Anaheim Ducks, which not only dropped Anaheim out of the playoffs bracket but, unfortunately, let the Blues draw to within one point.

Colorado occupies the final playoff berth. They have one to two games in hand over every team fighting for that spot — a boon to having those long breaks early on in the season. However, the tightness of the race makes every single point like diamond-encrusted platinum — über-valuable.

Moving on with my calculation, the Avalanche might secure a playoff spot with 97 points. Right now they have 80 points with 14 games remaining. They’re still evenly split — seven at home, seven on the road. I’ve opined that Colorado essentially needs to play .500 hockey on the road and maintain their impressive home play.

So, the Avalanche need two points out of this two-game roadie. Padding that tonight with an outright win would be gravy.

Next: Ups and Downs of Sam Girard

This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams. Tonight is the second time Colorado has played in Xcel Energy Center this season. Last time the game went to the shootout, which Minnesota ended up winning 3-2. (Fun fact: I can’t remember why, but the Avs were wearing their home color jerseys while the Wild wore roadie white.)