EDMONTON, ALBERTA – They say you should never wish for one opponent over another in the NHL playoffs, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: The Avalanche drew an easier opponent for the first round of the real playoffs, starting next week, by getting the Arizona Coyotes instead of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Avs’ 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights here at Rogers Place means they will play the Coyotes next week (dates and times will be announced tomorrow) and not the red-hot Blackhawks, who upset the hometown Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid in their qualifier series.
No doubt I’ll hear from Coyotes fans over saying that, but so be it. Fact is, the Avs will match up better against Arizona than Chicago, in my opinion anyway. The Coyotes played an underachieving, soft Nashville team in their qualifier and won in four games. Arizona will soon find out the Avs are a deeper, faster and hungrier team than the fading Preds.
In the process, the Avs will avoid a Chicago team that has Jonathan Toews playing like Ponce De Leon all of a sudden, with a bunch of secondary guys up front who are all playing very well right now too (Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, Brandon Saad). Let Vegas battle it out with the Blackhawks in the first round, while the Avs make do with a Coyotes team that has a lot of hustle and work ethic and a good goalie – but just not enough depth to match the Avs.
A bunch of guys on the Blackhawks have won multiple Stanley Cups. The Coyotes have never played in a Stanley Cup Final.