Avalanche not settling in final games
You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and you certainly don’t want to face-off against the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round, in a Game 7, on the road.
Take a look at today’s NHL standings, over a week away from the start of the postseason, you’ll notice the Avalanche sit in second place in the Central Division. If you haven’t been keeping up with the standings chances are you’ll be overcome with shock, and your body will be unable to properly process your blood. Then, you’ll realize the Avalanche’s current rank in the division indicates two things. One, the team has had a remarkable regular season that was unforeseen by most and predicted by few. Two, an upcoming first round series that will test the inexperienced, speedy Avalanche against the experienced, speedy, Stanley Cup Champion defending Chicago Blackhawks is practically inevitable — that is if the remainder of the season finishes without a collapse from the first place St. Louis Blues.
With four games remaining for both the Avalanche (107 points) and the Blackhawks (105 points), it goes without saying that it is in the Avs’ best interest to keep pace down the final stretch and secure home ice for the opening series. Despite the Avalanche having the best regular season road record in the Western Conference (24-10-3), the Blackhawks are a proven playoff team. They’ve won two of the last four Stanley Cups and clinched eight of ten playoff series in that four year span. Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both can cite the Conn Smythe Trophy on their resumes and the offensives leaders will be available to play after suffering injuries in late the regular season. Furthermore, the Hawks players have totaled 1121 games of playoff experience to the Avalanche’s 300. Playing the first two games in front a home crowd that is craving a resurrection of playoff hockey at Pepsi Center will undoubtably play into the Avalanche’s advantage, and more importantly, the Avs want the luxury of playing a potential Game 7 against champs at the home arena fondly referred to by locals as The Can.
Patrick Roy knows the importance of home ice, and isn’t settling for second place in the Central Division. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
And no one knows the importance of playing a Game 7 at home in the Pepsi Center quite like head coach and former Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy. That’s why Roy doesn’t plan on cruising through the final few games or reward his players with rest in anticipation for the playoffs. ”Right now, our top players are playing over 20 minutes pretty much every night, which is pretty good, and I think that will prepare them really well for playoffs,” Roy told The Fan Morning Show on 104.3 The Fan on April 3. “It’s a tough situation right now to rest people, because we’re in that race with Chicago. And maybe I’m a big believer but I don’t think its over with the Blues yet.”
Forget the Blackhawks, could the Avalanche potentially leapfrog the St. Louis Blues (111 points, four games remaining) for first place?
Granted, Roy made these comments before the Avalanche lost a point in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But if the Avalanche can win out the rest of their games and the Blues lose three of their final four, the Avalanche can clinch the first seed. Not likely, but also not mathematically out of the question.
Colorado fans can sense playoff hockey is near and are ready to pop The Can when the first home game arrives. But Roy and company have some business to take care of first.
Most playoff series wins in the last four seasons*
Series winsTotal series playedChampionships
NBA - Miami Heat11122
NHL- Chicago Blackhawks8102
NHL - Boston Bruins8111
MLB - San Francisco Giants662
MLB - St. Louis Cardinals681
*Not including MLB Wild Card playoff
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