The Colorado Avalanche face their latest must-win game when they face the Golden Knights in Vegas.
The Colorado Avalanche need a redemptive game against the Golden Knights in Vegas.
The redemption has nothing to do with the two teams’ last game against each other. Colorado picked up a much-needed two points by winning in the shootout. It was an electrifying game that players, announcers, and fans alike declared carried a playoff atmosphere.
No, the Avalanche need redemption for the only other time they’ve been in T-Mobile Arena. They dropped an embarrassing 7-0 loss. I was in the crowd. It sucked — it felt like 2016-17 all over again.
So, beyond redemption, the Avs need two points tonight.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: March 26, 8:00pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
Home vs Away Style
The Colorado Avalanche are a dominant home team. Unfortunately, the Vegas Golden Knights are equally dominant. Indeed, they have almost identical home records — 26-10-2 for Colorado vs 26-9-2 for Vegas.
In fact, an Avs win tonight could make them have the same home record, and that’s what we want.
Vegas is dominant at home for a number of reasons, not least of which is good coaching. However, the production crew puts on a Vegas-worthy spectacle every night that includes “knighting” an opponent fan a Vegas fan, a drum corps, a fortress, a lizard and…. other ridiculousness. It’s cheesy. But it’s cheesy in the way our “Woo-woo” goal celebration and level-up penalty kill is cheesy.
In other words, it creates energy in the home crowd. And the players feed off that home energy.
Conversely, we’ve got an Avalanche team who’ve barely found their road identity, and it’s a tenuous one at that. Their road identity consists of coming out flat, over-relying on Varlamov (who will, indeed, get the start), killing a couple penalties, and finally capitalizing on their chances.
I’d like to see them shake it up a little bit and play a little tighter hockey. Varlamov is about to play in his 21st consecutive game. If Colorado really makes it to the playoffs, we need him to not aggravate his groin by over-playing.
The Avalanche have the luxury of being almost completely healthy. Only Mark Barberio is out with a mystery lower body injury and Jonathan Bernier with an infected cut. (Tough year for J. Bern.) That means Colorado is suiting up a healthier roster than most teams (knock wood).
Therefore, I really would like to see Colorado do some backchecking and play some defense to help out Varlamov in this game.
MacKinnon for Hart
I was too disappointed by the Kings game to make my MacKinnon for Hart argument in the last preview. I’m also going to make this one brief.
Nathan MacKinnon is third in points with 92, behind only Connor McDavid (96) and Nikita Kucherov (95) and tied with Evgeni Malkin. However, MacKinnon has played fewer games than any of them — 67 to McDavid’s 75, Kucherov’s 73 and Malkin’s 72.
MacKinnon is operating at a 1.37 point per game pace, which is tops in the NHL. Across a full 82-game season, that would put him at 112 points. None of the other players are on that pace.
McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers aren’t making the playoffs. MacKinnon’s Colorado Avalanche are in the playoff hunt with just seven games remaining despite being worst in the NHL last year by 21 points. No one questions it’s MacKinnon who’s turned the team around.
By comparison, Kucherov’s Tampa Bay Lightning are favored to play in the Stanley Cup Finals while Malkin’s Pittsburgh Penguins have just won back-to-back Cups.
In other words, no other player means as much to his team as MacKinnon or has led his team to as much success. Therefore, Nathan should win the Hart Trophy for MVP.
This is the third and final time the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights meet in the regular season. However, they are potential dance partners for the post season.