Colorado Avalanche: Heading Home After Weathering the Storm

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 19: Colorado Avalanche Goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) looks on at the bench between whistles during the second period of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Calgary Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche on April 19, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - APRIL 19: Colorado Avalanche Goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) looks on at the bench between whistles during the second period of Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Calgary Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche on April 19, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche learned the hard way that rest can make you rusty. Luckily, they got their fighting spirit back in Game 2.

Rest is a tricky thing in hockey, especially when it comes to playoffs, and the Colorado Avalanche re-learned that lesson the hard way. There’s a delicate balance between rest and momentum. Coming off a Game 7 OT win against the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose had momentum. Meanwhile, the Avs had several days to cool their heels after dousing the Calgary Flames in just five games.

So while it may have come as a shock to many Avalanche fans when the San Jose Sharks emerged victorious in Game 1, I wasn’t terribly surprised. However, I was also fairly confident that the Avs would rebound in Game 2, which they did – winning 4-2. Especially considering how the Avalanche bounced back during the first round after being shut out in Game 1 against the Flames, it’s clear that this Colorado Avalanche team has no trouble responding to adversity.

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Now the series heads to the Pepsi Center in Denver. As has been previously mentioned, the Avalanche have had a great deal of success at home this season. In addition to regular season success, the Avs are undefeated thus far at home in the playoffs. Game 3 of the first round against Calgary featured a resounding 6-2 victory for the Avalanche in which Cale Makar made his NHL debut and also scored his first career NHL goal.

The Colorado Avalanche will look to build on their success at home this Tuesday in Game 3 as the Sharks will most certainly be out for blood. However, if the first round was any indicator, the Avs should feel confident in their ability to take two wins at home and carry a 3-1 series lead back to San Jose.

Given the Avs’ dominant performance in the first round, this year’s playoff run has a slightly nostalgic feel to it. For those that remember their history, the Quebec Nordiques were eliminated in the first round of the 1995 Stanley Cup Playoffs, just before relocating to Denver and becoming the Colorado Avalanche.

While the bulk of the roster remained unchanged (Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote), a couple of key acquisitions such as Claude Lemieux, Sandis Ozolinsh, and Patrick Roy may have made all the difference as the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 1996 in their inaugural year. One might argue that the Colorado Avalanche of 2019 have taken a page out of their history book.

Returning veterans such as Gabe Landeskog, Nathan McKinnon, and Erik Johnson have certainly helped the Avalanche maintain consistency from last season to this one. But could the addition of Matt Calvert, Philipp Grubauer, and Cale Makar be some of the key ingredients to winning the franchise’s third Stanley Cup?

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Only time will tell, and the Avs have plenty of road left before the Stanley Cup is in sight. Right now the focus should be on winning Game 3.