Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues: Round One Series Preview
The Colorado Avalanche goes into the postseason for the fourth year in a row. However, winning a round this season will not be satisfactory enough. To start their playoffs, the Avs face off against 2019 Stanley Cup winners the St. Louis Blues. While members of that team are still there, this has been a very different team in St. Louis so far. Here is everything you need to know to get started on the series.
The last time these two teams competed in the playoffs was in 2001, when the Avs defeated the Blues four games to one in the Western Conference Finals and eventually won all in seven against the New Jersey Devils.
20 years later, this Avs team is hoping to start a similar run. They are full of talent and had one of the best goalkeepers in the league this year. That year the Avs went 5-3-0 against St. Louis. Apart from an 8-0 blowout, almost all games were relatively close. If the season told us something, it won’t be an easy streak despite the record. The odds are strongly in favor of the Avalanche, but as many blues fans will be quick to point out, that’s why the game is played on the ice.
Key to the series
One of the biggest changes between this Avs team and those from the past few years is the depth they have in all areas of the ice. The avalanche was up and the past few seasons have not disappointed. However, they helped highlight the needs of this Avs team that they addressed.
Depth has been one of the main issues over the past few seasons as when Nathan MacKinnon and his line aren’t rolling, sometimes nobody has. Colorado has introduced names like Brandon Saad, Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and others to address this over the past few seasons. This year they are one of the deepest teams out there, and strikers arguably not even the highlight of that team.
The defense is absolutely stacked as it was already looking good with Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Adam Graves. However, in the off-season they also added Devon Toews for two round two picks. Toews was one of the best defenders in the league that year, giving the Avs one of the deepest defensive cores out there. Using this to their advantage will be crucial.
Even online they added Devan Dubnyk as insurance in case Phillip Grubauer had to miss the time again. Ideally, however, this doesn’t happen. Grubauer was a stallion this year and it seems reasonable to suggest the Avs go as far as he takes them.
The biggest factor for St. Louis on this series could be the specialty teams. The Blues had a brutal penalty kick and finished 24th with 77.8%. The Avs were in eighth place with 83.1%. The blues power play, however, came in at 23.2%, which is good enough for it to finish sixth in the league. Colorado was also eighth in PP% with 22.7%.
Both teams generate a lot of chances on the PP and are third and fourth in CF / 60 with no gap between them. While the number of options for any team is usually very few, if St. Louis is to have an advantage, they must find a way to put Colorado out of the game and draw penalties. This will be difficult because Colorado is so quick and dexterous that it can be difficult not to suffer stick penalties. However, if St. Louis can frustrate Colorado, this may be your best chance.
They have guns in power play like Mike Hoffman and Vladimir Tarasenko. If any of these guys get a look, they ask for trouble. The Avs will want to keep this game at 5v5 as much as possible because they are clearly the better team.
I can’t look ahead
It feels like everyone is already looking forward to a matchup between Colorado and Vegas in the second round. While that would be exciting, Colorado can’t look back on this series. If you do, you’ll be out faster than you ever imagined.
This team in St. Louis isn’t as strong as it has been in years past, but they have experience and have picked up recently. There’s no reason Colorado shouldn’t win if they play their hockey style. After all, it primarily earned them the President’s Trophy. Make sure this is a quick but physical series with all sorts of excitement.