The Colorado Avalanche earned the second seed in the Western Conference, so they will play the Arizona Coyotes in the first round.
The Colorado Avalanche failed to win the top seed as Best in the West. After seven-eighths of a season in which they were perpetually two points behind St. Louis for tops of the Western Conference, the finally lost out in the round robin… to the Vegas Golden Knights. They’re seeded second in the Western Conference.
They finally beat the St. Louis Blues in the standings, though! St. Louis has failed to win a game yet, though they play the Stars tomorrow. Dallas also hasn’t won a game. 😎
So, not all the round robin or even qualifier games have been played, though. In addition to that Blues-Stars game, the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs need to play their Game 5. Both Boston and Washington, neither of whom have won a game, also need to complete their round robin against each other. At the time of writing, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia were playing their final round robin game against each other.
Besides top teams like Boston and St. Louis failing to win round robin games thus far, the qualifiers themselves have revealed some surprises. For one, both the 12-seeded teams, Montreal and Chicago, took their qualifier series to make the playoffs. In the regular season, neither team was likely to sneak into the playoffs.
I can’t speak much for Montreal, but it just goes to show you to never sleep on the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Once they get into the post-season, their veterans know what to do. Indeed, Jonathan Toews has been on fire.
And so, it was something of a blessing that Colorado didn’t beat the Vegas Golden Knights to take that top seed. For they would have then faced a red-hot Chicago team that knows all too well what it takes to win it all.
Instead, the Colorado Avalanche will face a reasonable Arizona team.
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Colorado and Arizona split the two-game series (the final game was cancelled) during the regular season. Goalie Pavel Francouz played both games.
So, that begs the question — who will be the Avalanche’s goalie for the start of the Arizona series. Philipp Grubauer is the starter of record. Though his two games in the round robin were far from stellar, he didn’t really do enough to lose that starting position. However, a hot goalie wins playoff series, and Francouz threw a shutout in his lone start of the round robin.
It’s been my experience recently that the current coaching staff may have started out saying they play the players who have earned their ice time, but it’s become lip service as they just play their favorite players.
Anyway, the Colorado Avalanche have depth the Coyotes can only dream about. In the round robin, they had eight different players score goals, with only Joonas Donskoi having scored twice. Interestingly, Nazem Kadri is their points leader with 1 goal and 3 assists. Nathan MacKinnon has 1 goal and 2 assists.
The Avalanche and Coyotes have only met in one playoff series previously — in 2000. The Avalanche took that series.
The playoffs start early next week. The schedule hasn’t been released yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play Monday since they’re off Sunday. I like their chances against the Coyotes.