Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Round Two: Avalanche vs. Golden Knights (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As I’m sure we’ve all heard by now, the Colorado Avalanche will face the Vegas Golden Knights in round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This has not been a fun series for Avs fans to endure. But..that was in the injury-ridden regular season. And I don’t know if Knights fans have heard, but Colorado swept St. Louis. Now, I’m not going to pull a Ryan O’Reilly and say that my team is absolutely going to win. No no no no. I’m way too superstitious for that. 

These teams split the regular season series right down the middle; 4-4. There were several games that Colorado did not deserve to win. Their defense just…didn’t bother to show up. They were slow and showed no support behind the forwards. Slightly concerning moving forward. 

Offense: 

Offensively, Colorado has 4 top lines. You could put Nathan MacKinnon between any two wingers, you could put Landeskog left of anyone and Burakovsky right of anyone and have a successful shift. However, the only forward I might be a little bit teeny tiny worried about is Alex Newhook. Why? Simply for his lack of experience in the National Hockey League, let alone the postseason. With that being said, I don’t foresee Jared Bednar replacing him with anyone because he’s very solid on the forecheck and has done an excellent job of proving himself to be NHL material. Newy is on the same line as Pierre-Eduard Bellemare and Carl Soderberg, guys who have been at this a while. I don’t doubt that he’ll be able to keep up.

Having been raised in the Burgandy & blue, Mark Stone scares the bejesus out of me. He has done nothing but A) flourished in Vegas and B) lit up Colorado’s top lines. But with his left-hand man, Max Pacioretty on the COVID list, that could raise a lot of questions for the Knights moving into round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vegas has made the playoffs every season since its debut in 2017-2018. But they have yet to face this Colorado team in the postseason. 

Defense: 

Unfortunately, I think Vegas gets this one. But not by much. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say Vegas by half a point. Colorado’s defense sometimes doesn’t perform well in front of Grubauer and Cale Makar can’t carry the whole D-line on his back. Colorado has played 14 defensemen this season. The franchise record is 16 D-men in 82 games. Vegas has a defensive strategy for everything. It’s always strong. It’s always deep. And it’s always fast. Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Whitecloud, and Shea Theodore are the strongest defensemen on that team and arguably top 5 in the division. 

(However, I would like to point out that Petriangelo was the one who said “oh boy” when MacKinnon was hurdling towards him with the puck) 

Devon Toews came to Colorado from the New York Islanders this last post season and he has been fantastic on the blue line. He’s consistent in creating chances for everyone on the ice including himself. Sammy Girard has also improved expontially this season and I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do for Colorado in this round.

Goaltending: 

I have a burning hatred for Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s just always so…smiley…and happy to be there. Gross.

Fleury, Grubauer, and Semyon Varlamov (NYI)  have been all the talk this season in terms of the Vezina Trophy. For that reason, I think goaltending will split in this series. It will depend on whether or not Vegas (mistakenly) puts Lehner in the net and if Colorado decides to give Johansson his playoff debut. 

If it’s Grubauer vs. Fleury through the whole series, I’d give it to Grubauer. If Colorado rests Grubauer, I’d give it to Fluery. But if Vegas rests Fluery, I give it to Colorado whether or not it’s Grubauer in the net or not. 

Prediction: Colorado in 7 

I do think this will be a seven-game series. Both of these teams have proven to be deserving of this playoff run. But given Colorado’s previous series vs. St. Louis and Vegas vs. Wild, Colorado is a stronger postseason team. With my superstitions in mind moving into the weekend, I will say that when Colorado loses, they’ll be down bad.  

(Out of all the states to get a hockey team, Nevada??? Do they even have natural ice in that state? They get all of their water from Colorado anyways…..) 

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