EDMONTON, ALBERTA – The puck will drop in 2.5 hours from now, and I’ll be inside Rogers Place for Game 1 between the Avalanche and Coyotes. It’s a five-minute walk from my Airbnb to the building here in Edmonton.
The Avalanche will go into this game with a full roster. There are no injuries/unfit-to-play situations on the Avs just yet. The Coyotes, on the other hand, will go into Game 1 without a pretty good center, Nick Schmaltz. He had 11 goals and 45 points for Arizona during the regular season, but he’s been deemed unfit to play for Game 1, per Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan.
I think this means we’ll see more of old friend Carl Soderberg for the Coyotes. The Avalanche, as you recall, dealt Carl away last season, for Kevin Connauton and Arizona’s third-round pick in 2020.
Jared Bednar wouldn’t give specifics about his line combinations for Game 1, but I’m hearing that Andre Burakovsky may be swapped again with Vladislav Namestnikov on the first and third lines at left wing. We’ll see on that one. It’s just something I heard from a source, but I wouldn’t say it’s “gospel.”
I think the Avs need to get a bit more from Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog than they got in the round-robin. Not that they played horrible, but I think they definitely are capable of better, and the Avs will need that if they are to avoid a morass of a series with this team. Neither guy scored a goal in the round-robin, though they did combine for six assists.
Defensively, the Avalanche obviously will need to pay close attention to Coyotes’ top line of Taylor Hall-Christian Dvorak-Phil Kessel.
The Coyotes have a very good defense, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson. This will not be an “easy” series, but I still say Avs in five.
- That and my other first-round series predictions lead us off in some around-the-horn links (Bookies.com)
- Rockies manager Bud Black and Garrett Hampson wore Avalanche jerseys in their morning media avail today
- Don’t forget to hang out with me on Twitter today, as I usually put the pregame warmup on Periscope, so you’ll know first who the goalie will be for the Avs, along with any other of my uncanny insights (@Adater)
- A little of what they’re saying in Arizona about this series (Arizona Republic)
- Boy, were they mad yesterday in Columbus about that non-call on a Seth Jones breakaway in that marvelous five-OT game with the Lightning (Columbus Dispatch)
- I did a feature on Gabe Landeskog and his golf game for a local golf magazine (Colorado Avid Golfer)
- Penguins GM Jim Rutherford ripped into his team following their qualifier exit to Montreal (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
- Good insight here from George Richards on why the Panthers decided to dump longtime GM Dale Tallon (Florida Hockey Now)
- An exclusive interview with the National Hockey Now family of sites (that includes me here) with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (National Hockey Now)
- The San Jose Sharks and the No. 1 pick that almost happened but not quite (San Jose Hockey Now)