Colorado Avalanche Learning about Playoff Hockey

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 14: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 14: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie /

The Colorado Avalanche are a young team. Hopefully they’re learning valuable lessons from the playoff series against the Predators.

When you look at the Colorado Avalanche, you’re reminded not only that they’re the youngest team in the NHL, but even the “veterans” don’t have a lot of playoff experience.

Core players’ playoff experience including this season (and not including the injured Erik Johnson and Semyon Varlamov):

Add to that the regular rookies — Tyson Jost, Alexander Kerfoot, J.T. Compher and (the now injured) Samuel Girard — who, like Rantanen, are playing in their first NHL playoffs, and you’ve got a lot of inexperience out on the ice.

Well, the point of this season has always been for the kids to learn and grow together. The fact that they’re getting playoff experience now is valuable not because they’re going to make a deep Stanley Cup run this year, but because they need to know how to play playoff style hockey.

So, let’s see some lessons they’re still learning.

Minimize Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes during a hockey game. However, you can’t keep making the same mistakes. Nor can you commit an egregious error like the following:

Yes, that’s just a bad change by the Colorado Avalanche. Zadorov passes the puck without looking to see Barrie and Patrik Nemeth are trying to execute a change. Startled, they both try to avoid the puck for a moment to avoid a too many men penalty, and that’s enough time for the Predators to get into position.

Zadorov was far from the only guilty party in the two games, but his includes a convenient video because it led directly to a goal.

The Avalanche aren’t a great possession team because they make these kinds of mistakes all the time. They’ve tightened it up somewhat in this playoff series. But they’ve got to get even better at tape-to-tape passes — preferably among teammates.

Play Physical Hockey

More from Stanley Cup Playoffs

Yes, the NHL is becoming a smaller, faster game with small, fleet guys who out-skate the big bruisers of yesteryear… Yadda, yadda, yadda. Somebody forgot to give the Nashville Predators that memo.

The new style of hockey reminds me of one of the least popular hockey movies ever, Youngblood. Dean Youngblood’s character is all about the fast skilled game. When warned he’s going to get beaten up by bigger players, he chirps “They’ll never catch me!”

Spoiler alert: They catch him.

Hockey isn’t a race. You’re not skating straight to a finish line, so speed can only take you so far. In the playoffs, you’ve got to be nasty. This is Survivor, only for reals. If you can poke check a guy in the nuts and get away with it, it’s all good. And if you don’t get away with it, you still put a hurt on him. Put enough hurt on him, and he might start avoiding you.

That’s the game of hockey — it’s physical. Ask poor Tyson Barrie, whom the Nashville Predators are trying to kill. First the head hit in Game 1, then the puck to the face in Game 2…

Even Duncan “Serial Killer” Siemens isn’t immune — he was the victim of the infamous Ryan Johansen butt check:

You know you’re facing a mean team when they’re willing to stick their butt out at Duncan Siemens.

Next: Jitters Cost Avs in Game 1

The Colorado Avalanche are playing good hockey right now. They’ve had a couple bad bounces go against them and more than a few questionable calls. However, the #17 team in the NHL is putting up a big fight against the #1 team in the NHL.

I have every confidence the Avs will take at least one, and maybe both home games coming up — especially if they learn the above lessons.