Colorado Avalanche: 4 Keys to Beating the Flames in Round 1

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13: The Colorado Avalanche face off against the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center on October 13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13: The Colorado Avalanche face off against the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center on October 13, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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CALGARY, AB – MARCH 18: Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames is checked by Erik Johnson #6 of the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Blueline

The Calgary Flames have a slight edge over the Avalanche on the blueline. Captain Mark Giordano is their cornerstone. According to NHL.com, the Flames have registered 371 more shots than they have allowed when he is on the ice. The 35-year-old can also produce offense — 17 goals and 57 assists for 74 points.

Yikes. That’s a defensive powerhouse if ever I saw one. Mr. Chicago-Style Pizza is responsible in both ends of the ice, and that’s going to be a challenge for Colorado. Other notables on their defensive roster include Giordano’s partner, T.J. Brodie, Noah Hanifin, and Travis Hamonic.

Colorado’s blueline looks the best it has in recent years. Our top points producer from the blueline is Tyson Barrie — 14 goals and 45 assists for 59 points. Nikita Zadorov is our big hitter, Ian Cole our playoff veteran, and Samuel Girard is our Whirling Dervish.

Our not-so-secret weapon is the captain of the blueline, Erik Johnson. He struggled at times this season. However, the 31-year-old has only seven playoff games to his name, and he’s got to be one of the most motivated players on the ice this series. And Johnson can be the biggest of difference-makers in a game.