The Colorado Avalanche face the Devils in New Jersey for the official start of the second half of their season.
The Colorado Avalanche enjoyed a decisive victory against the St. Louis Blues at home in Pepsi Center. Before that, they’d lost three in a row and blown third period leads in four out of five games.
Water under the bridge, right? Well, no, the Avs cannot just forget the intensity they had against St. Louis. They need to keep bringing the fire against the Devils.
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The last time the Avs and New Jersey met was in Colorado. It was a weird game because trade rumors were flying heavily. The Avs were supposed to get Taylor Hall. The rumors intensified when Hall was held out of that game.
It wasn’t in preparation for a trade with Colorado, though. Instead, he headed to Arizona soon after. The Avalanche, meanwhile, beat the Devils 3-1.
Right now, the Avalanche are coming into the game fighting for Best in the West with St. Louis. The Blues have six points over Colorado, but the Avs have a game in hand. They’re 4-5-1 in the last 10 games.
New Jersey, meanwhile… They’re fighting with Detroit for Worst in the East. The Red Wings have 13 points fewer that the Devils, so they’re probably going to “win” that race. New Jersey is 6-3-1 in the last 10, though. They’re also coming off a 2-1 win over the Islanders.
Let’s look at some keys to the game for the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avs… have a lot of flaws in their game. They’ve won some games on pure talent alone — a lot of their success against St. Louis last game was the pure talent of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Samuel Girard.
However, one area that they should work on is in the forechecking department. They did a pretty decent job of it against the Blues, and look how well that turned out. When they put pressure on the opponent, sometimes they can force turnovers.
Keep Winning Puck Battles
When the Avalanche start relying purely on talent, they stop doing the little things right. Well, one of those little things that falls by the wayside is the puck battle.
Every team needs to have a gritty side. We saw it in the two teams who competed for the Stanley Cup last season. There was a lot of grinding on both sides.
Sometimes the Avs don’t like to grind in the corners. But it’s a necessary step to win hockey games.
Keep Playing in the Third
The Colorado Avalanche did not let the Blues off the ropes in the third period, and they scored three goals in that period. None of those goals were the game-winner, but they did go a long way toward sealing the deal for the Avs.
Those four third period blown leads all resulted in losses. It’s tough to let your foot off the gas just as your opponent is putting pressure on the gas because they’re behind. No lead is safe.
Colorado has to keep pressing in the third period.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game Time: Jan. 4, 5:00 pm MT
TV: Alt 2, MSG (Devils’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5/AM 950)
Tonight marks the second and final time the two teams will meet this season.