Colorado Avalanche Roundtable: Playoff Advice for the Team

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 12: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 12: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard /
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In the latest Colorado Avalanche roundtable, we offer some advice on how the team can win some games against the heavily favored Predators — and maybe even steal the series.

The Colorado Avalanche did not take Game 1. They dominated at times and looked like they belonged on that playoff ice as much as anyone. They even went into the third period tied at two. But Nashville took Game1.

Well, it’s a best of seven series. The 5-2 score was not indicative of how the game went. Rather, it included a bit of puck luck that went Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne’s way, some bad luck that went against the Avs, and an empty net goal.

So, Colorado is still very much in this series. As they go into Game 2, a matinee game, let’s look at some advice the Mile High Sticking contributors and I have for the team.

Tom Janz is modest that it’s not his place to give the team advice — but when has that ever stopped any of us. However, he does have some advice for them just the same:

Far be it from me to give the Avs advice to win a playoff series. With that said, the Avs will need to continue to be resilient. They will get figuratively, and possibly literally, punched in the mouth in this series. The Preds are probably the deepest team in the league, and there will be games where they outplay the Avs. Colorado needs to stay the course, and play their game.”

So far Tyson Barrie has been literally punched in the mouth — and the whole face and apparently the whole body. Hopefully we can see some of that going in the other direction today.

Ross Kleppe believes we’ll continue to see high-scoring games — and that the key to the series is solving Rinne:

They’re going to have to put pucks past Pekka (alliteration intended). I know that sounds obvious, but if they are going to win this series, it’s not going to be in low-scoring games. The Avs have the offensive fire-power to get into a track meet with anyone. They won’t win games 1-0 or 2-1, but in 5-3 or 6-5 games they have a shot.”

Side note: I’m a fan of alliteration.

In any case, the Colorado Avalanche got their two playoff goals so far from secondary scorers — specifically defenseman Nikita Zadorov (first goal of the series) and Blake Comeau. Pekka Rinne is not invincible. If Nathan MacKinnon’s line can get going, this series can turn into a shooting match.

Kyle Peters concurs that the Avalanche shooters need to get pucks past Rinne — he just thinks it’s not going to happen until the Avs are back on home ice:

Watch out for the Preds’ defense and goaltending. Try to overpower Pekka Rinne at the Pepsi Center — Rinne was 5-6 last season in away games, while being 9-2 in Nashville.

That’s a useful statistic to know about Rinne. Unfortunately, if the Colorado Avalanche want to win the series, they’ll have to take one road game.

Anthony Noga’s advice is less specific:

“I hate the typical interview cliches so I’ll steer clear of saying where
to get pucks, whose game to play, how to work and what assortment of
things can happen in the playoffs. Instead, I’ll go with: don’t think
you’ve accomplished anything yet, and don’t be satisfied just being in the
playoffs.

“Are those cliches too?

“Either way, now is the time to really turn some heads. Want to prove last
year was the fluke? Go out and put a scare into the league’s best team.
Better yet, knock them off and really make a statement.

“Also, give MacKinnon the puck.

I like the idea of the Colorado Avalanche using these games as a way to make a statement that they’re the real deal.

Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche /

Colorado Avalanche

And now on to my advice.

First of all, the “Colorado Avalanche game” includes a lot of mistakes and breakdowns. That’s not an ideal aspect of their game, nor is it something they practice, but it’s a thread that’s run through the entire season.

So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the players should not play the Colorado Avalanche game. They should tighten up their game and try to limit the mistakes as much as possible. Work harder on some of the basics, like completing passes, while using some of the fancy plays, like the one-timer the top line is always trying, as an accent rather than the main portion of their game.

I’m also going to suggest the Avs work a lot harder on being even-keel. Shift to shift, they have to emulate how the Predators reacted to Game 1. Remember, these upstart Avs came in and scored the first goal of the series in their barn. Rinne got bailed out a couple times by defensemen. Nashville didn’t take a lead until the third period.

And the Predators never lost their cool. They took every aspect of the game in stride. The kept pressing forward with a tight game until they finally overwhelmed the Avalanche. It was a siege.

Colorado needs to work on their own siege engine. No matter what happens, keep up the fast-paced skill play that they want to be the center of their game.

Next: Predictions for the Round 1 Playoffs

And that’s how the upstart Colorado Avalanche could upset the Nashville Predators — and make a real statement in the NHL.