The Colorado Avalanche have time to get healthy while they wait for their second-round opponent. Who might get scratched from a healthy team?
The Colorado Avalanche clinched the series on Friday night, April 19. Meanwhile, the first round can keep going on until Wednesday, April 24.
Last night, the San Jose Sharks-Vegas Golden Knights game went to double overtime. San Jose won, so the series goes to a Game 7, in San Jose. That will happen Tuesday. Regardless of who wins, the second round likely won’t start before April 26, giving Colorado a full week of rest.
And time to heal. The Stanley Cup playoffs are notoriously a time for players to get banged up. Indeed, Colorado saw Samuel Girard go down with an upper body injury in Game 2. Derick Brassard also missed the last three games due to “illness.”
However, with a full week off, both players could become completely healthy. That gives Colorado a pleasant dilemma — who gets to be the healthy scratch if most players are healthy? Let’s explore the options.
Nope. I highly doubt the Avs will scratch Girard. He may start back on the bottom pairing, to get his playoff legs back. But no way he sits a game when he’s healthy. He’s a team favorite.
The 31-year-old Derick Brassard was brought to the Colorado Avalanche largely because of his playoff experience. He has 92 games’ worth of playoff experience.
However, in his two games with the Avalanche, he had no points and was a -1. He had six shots on goal, countered by his six penalty minutes, and a faceoff percentage of 47.37.
Will the Avs coaching staff see fit to bench another player to slide Brassard back into the lineup? I honestly think it’s a tossup between him and a player like Sven Andrighetto, who took over when Brassard became ill.
Gabriel Bourque gets a lot of disdain from many Avs fans and lots of love from Jared Bendar. Nonetheless, the coaching staff benched him for large parts of the season.
So far, Bourque has played all five games in the playoffs. He’s pretty much been a non-presence as far as points and even shots go. He’s been more disciplined than Brassard, recording only two penalty minutes.
The thing about Bourque — he’s physical and he plays the penalty kill. I’m not saying that should keep him in the lineup, but it might be the deciding factor.
Sven Andrighetto was the hero of last year’s playoffs when he scored a late-game goal to secure a win in Nashville. This postseason, he’s been more of a non-factor.
Andrighetto replaced Brassard. In his three games, he has no points, five shots, and diminishing minutes. He’s -1 so far. He also has just two penalty minutes.
The Colorado Avalanche need only scratch one forward if Brassard is healthy. Unless they decide to run the seven defensemen-11 forwards model. Here’s why they might.
Defenseman Patrik Nemeth is never going to put up a ton of points. However, he’s a shutdown defenseman — one of only two (Ian Cole being the other). You need to be able to stop opponent players.
Nemeth has given the coaching staff no reason to scratch him. He’s been disciplined and responsible. That would be a hard decision, scratching Nemeth. With Girard potentially returning, Nemeth would be the reason to run the 7-11 approach. That means two scratched forwards.
Fair warning: If Jared Bednar scratches young Tyson Jost, our first-rounder from 2016, my fury will be uncontained. I will channel the ire that every Leafs, Islanders, Bruins fan has ever felt for their teams. I will throw the metaphoric jersey on the ice in the form of burning Bednar in effigy on this site.
I don’t like seeing talent wasted, and that’s what will be going on if Bednar puts Jost in an impossible situation (fourth line, extremely limited minutes), then scratches him for failing to make silk out of a pig’s ear.
I’m a fan, so I don’t have to be neutral. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go this way. I want to enjoy what’s happening with the Avs as much as other fans.
So, moving on. I think Bednar loves his 7-11 approach until it bites him in the butt. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him debut such a lineup in Game 1. And I’m going to hazard to guess the Colorado Avalanche scratch Andrighetto and Brassard to accommodate the return of Girard.