The Colorado Avalanche know they will be playing hockey this summer, they just are unsure of who their first opponent will be.
We will have hockey, that much we are certain. Who the Colorado Avalanche will play is still an unknown. With the way the COVID-19 Playoffs will work the Avs find themselves with a first round bye and their opponent won’t be known until they complete their round robin tournament with the other three bye teams in St. Louis, Dallas and Vegas.
Yes, there are still some unknowns that are getting figured out between now and when the playoffs begin when it comes to the Avs opponent. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at what the best match-ups will be for the Avalanche. So here are my Top 5 teams I would like to see the Avalanche take on in their first round of the playoffs.
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5 – Vancouver Canucks – If you asked a Canuck fan this question you might find they prefer a matchup with the Avs that is much higher on their list. A big reason for that would most likely come from the season long debate between Avalanche and Canucks fans about who is more deserving of the top rookie award, Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes. Depending on where your allegiance lies is where you will find your answer.
A victory from one team over the other doesn’t necessarily mean the winning team’s player has the leg up in the Calder Trophy award. The playoffs aren’t considered when it comes to handing out year end hardware, but it would give bragging rights to the team (and the rookie) who comes out on top.
The Avs were 1-1 against the Canucks this season and for what it’s worth the day the season was suspended the two teams were set to play each other for the final time of the year.
4 – Calgary Flames – The Colorado Avalanche went into last year’s playoffs and did something nobody outside of the team and fans expected them to do, take out the top seeded Calgary Flames. Not only did they eliminate the Flames in the first round, they did it in convincing fashion with a endorphin boost thanks to that now well known rookie Cale Makar.
The Flames are probably sick and tired of hearing about Makar and his first game and goal scored against them and they are looking for some revenge. This year the roles will be reversed in that the Avalanche will be the higher seed, but you won’t need to tell them how a lower seed and take over the series from a higher seed. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Gabirel Landeskog and Matthew Tkachuk go at it again?
Colorado was 2-0-1 against Calgary this year including a season opening win against the Flames 5-3.
3 – Nashville Predators – The Preds have had the Colorado Avalanche number several seasons. In fact, they have had a solid string of success overall and this year they started to come back down to earth a little. Nashville was up and down all season long and they were on an up swing when the season was suspended. A good enough up swing for them to be locked in a playoff spot and not benefit from the 24 team playoff.
This year is a bit of role reversal with these two teams. The Avalanche are the team looking down at the Predators, but again, don’t tell the Avs that means anything. A playoff victory over the Predators would feel almost like a rite of passage. Colorado has struggled against Nashville for so long, to take them out in the playoffs would make me feel like the team has arrived. Yes, I am aware of the St. Louis Blues are the defending champs but sending the Preds home would be a ‘passing of the torch’ moment.
Plus, Matt Duchene anyone?
Colorado was 2-0 against Nashville this year including that offensive 9-4 outburst and was scheduled to play two more with what was left of the season before it was suspended.
2 – Minnesota Wild – I could stop right here and anyone reading this would understand why going up against and taking a series from the Minnesota Wild would rank up there with the best moments of the year. We aren’t friends.
I personally don’t hold grudges. I get over things relatively quickly. However, the Wild eliminating the Avalanche from the playoffs in a Game 7 overtime in Colorado is still a sore subject. Every time the Avalanche play the Wild I root a little harder for a victory with that playoff loss still in the back of my mind. A regular season win only gives me a momentary satisfaction. If there is a revenge series for the Colorado Avalanche, this one is it.
In some weird way I would almost like to see the Avalanche return the favor and net a Game 7 overtime goal to send the Wild packing. But a four game sweep would work just fine also.
The Avalanche were 2-2-0 against Minnesota this season with the season determining fifth game scheduled to be played after the season was suspended.
1 – Edmonton Oilers – If you had asked me this question a week ago I probably wouldn’t have Edmonton anywhere on this list for a couple reasons. The Avalanche don’t really have a history with the Oilers like they do divisional rivals, and they’re damn good. I’m ashamed to admit that my gut reaction in facing the Oilers was to turn tail and run. The Avs just didn’t match up well with Edmonton this year. A conversation with a friend recently changed my perception.
So, I summoned my inner Daniel Larusso and am now looking the Cobra Kai right in the eye. Edmonton is the best match-up for the Colorado Avalanche. Not because the Avs would steam roll them, quite the opposite.They pose the biggest threat to the Avs championship dreams, and why wouldn’t you want to be tested against the best of the teams you could potentially face.
The Avs struggled somewhat against the Oilers this season, which would make some people (like myself) feel like this could be a difficult task for Colorado. But the playoffs is where you kick it up a notch. You want to prove how things that happened in the regular season was an anomaly. You want to be tested and not take the easiest path. Edmonton is not the easy path.
With four months off a lot has been said about teams needing time to get back into game mode. Well a series against Edmonton will no doubt get the Avalanche back into game mode quickly and prepare them for the rest of the playoffs should they advance.
This is also the best match-up for the NHL. Getting back on the ice will also get a lot of eyes on television screens since no fans are allowed in the areas. The NHL would be salivating to promote a series pitting Connor McDavid against Nathan MacKinnon.
The Avalanche still had one game remaining to play against the Oilers post season suspension and were 1-1 against them. That included maybe the worst loss of the season where Connor McDavid scored five points while Leon Draisaitl scored six in a 6-2 Edmonton win. This is what the Colorado Avalanche will face for possibly seven games. No easy task.