The Colorado Avalanche have such a deep team, that even players outside of their big names can be difference-makers.
The Colorado Avalanche have won the President’s Trophy. It’s only one step in what they want to accomplish this season, though. Naturally, they want the whole cheese the Stanley Cup.
We all know which players need to play big for the team to advance past the St. Louis Blues to the second round. They’re our big names — Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer. However, those five players can’t win games all by themselves. Their backup cast have to play big games, too.
Let’s look at some players beyond the Big 5 who can influence how the series goes.
Nazem Kadri actually has a lot of roles to fill on this team. With Erik Johnson out of the lineup, Kadri is one of the veteran influences on the team. Therefore, the team is sure to be looking to him for leadership. Naturally, as our second-line center, he’ll also be expected to contribute a fair amount of offense.
One way Kadri can be a big difference-maker, though, is with grit. With the St. Louis Blues already talking smack before the playoffs have even begun, it’s obvious the games are going to be chippy. Kadri will be a good one to get under Blues players skin and also to stand up for his teammates when things inevitably get dirty.
PE Bellemare is not going to be expected to contribute as much offense as Kadri, of course. However, he’s another one who can provide that grit and stand up for the team.
Indeed, Bellemare is quite the role model for the team. With heart-and-soul guy Matt Calvert out with an injury, the team will look to Bellemare to be that heart player.
The Colorado Avalanche’s defense doesn’t consist of Cale Makar alone, of course. A player who has a similar skill set is Sam Girard. No, he’s never going to be the force that Makar is. However, he’s got a lot to offer.
Girard has had his ups and downs this season. However, he’s got an impressive 32 points this season. If he’s got his skating legs going, Colorado can use him to help get the offense going against a stifling St. Louis team.
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The St. Louis Blues are a highly disciplined team. They have to be when their big story would only be (and was only) a second-liner on our team. They’re not going to take a lot of penalties. But they will surely draw some if frustrations set in.
That’s where Tyson Jost fits in. He has completely turned his game around to be an asset to the team. He’s one of their prime penalty killers, so they will want him to be on his game when they inevitably find themselves in the box at an inopportune time.
Yeah, Andre Burakovsky simply has to be the scoring force we know he can be. He has blossomed in the aAvalanche’s system because of his skating and his overall finesse. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the type of player the Blues look to shut down.
Naturally, most of their best shutdown will be aimed at the top line. So, if Burakovsky can swoop in on the second line and find some space, he can blow games wide open.
The Colorado Avalanche are a fortunate team because they’re so deep. The above five players can be difference-makers in the Blues series if they have big games.