The Colorado Avalanche must keep their emotions in check and play a solid game as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first and only time this season. Since they’re in different conferences, games between the two teams rarely carry emotional baggage.
Tonight is different. We’re seeing the return of our prodigal rover, Tyson Barrie. This will be the first time Barrie returns to the Pepsi Center since the free agency day trade that sent him to Toronto.
I’m not going to get sentimental about Barrie. I’ll leave that for my contributors who are Barrie superfans:
In fact, I’m going to exhort the Avalanche to do the opposite of be sentimental or emotional. I’m going to encourage them to go out there and play business-as-usual hockey.
Let’s look at some ways to do that.
Ignore the Hype
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The Toronto Maple Leafs carry their own media circus wherever they go. The hype is certainly going to be strong because both Barrie and Nazem Kadri are facing their former teams for the first time.
However, it’s going to be deafening because today is just the second game for Sheldon Keefe as their head coach. The Leafs fired their high-profile coach, Mike Babcock, and promoted Keefe before their game against the Coyotes in Arizona. He went on to record his first NHL win in Arizona.
I think today is a good day for him to record his first NHL loss.
Colorado media is far less of a circus, and life in general is less hectic. So, Colorado should be able to ignore the hype the Maple Leafs bring.
The Avalanche lost their game against the (hated) Minnesota Wild largely because they came out flat — as defenseman Nikita Zadorov put it, “sleepy.” Well, there’s no excuse for doing that tonight in front of a buzzing home crowd.
The Colorado Avalanche do so well when they come out with a lot of pep in their step. Knock-on-wood, they haven’t been bad about giving up a lead when they have it. They play with a lot more swagger than they did in years previously.
Ever since I became a hockey fan and watched players get traded, I wondered how they could face their former team. Well, I didn’t factor in the ultra-competitiveness it takes just to even get into the NHL.
Alternate captain Erik Johnson explained it best. In his first return to St. Louis after his trade from there, he remarked that he wanted to show them what they were missing out on because of the trade. (He showed them.)
Hopefully Barrie doesn’t fulfill the prophecy of the former Avs, who always score on their former team. Better Kadri scores on his former team.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: Nov. 22, 5:00 pm MT
TV: ALT, CBC, SN1, SNO, SNP (Leafs’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950/FM 92.5)
All time, the Colorado Avalanche have gone 19-14-1-2 (ties) against Toronto. Last season, they split the series, each winning on the road.