The Avs have a chance to prove themselves this afternoon against the Vegas Golden Knights.
A win against Vegas today would thrust the Avalanche into sole possession of first place in the West Division, while giving Colorado a commanding 4-2 series lead against the Golden Knights.
A win would be the Avs ninth in 10 games.
A win would be the Avs’ 22nd in 33 games—one win better than where Colorado stood at the 33-game mark last season.
A win would further cement Philipp Grubauer‘s nomination bid as a legitimate Vezina Trophy candidate with his league-tying 21st win, along with his uber-impressive NHL-leading 1.69 goals-against average, and his equally-impressive .931 save percentage (minimum six games played).
But above all, a win would prove to the West—and the NHL at large—that the Avs mean business, re-casting their bid to be the favorites…or whatever. The Avs are expected to compete in the Western Conference Finals with this Vegas Golden Knights team, a team they made look silly on Thursday night. A second straight W against the Knights would make a statement.
There’s something to be said about this Colorado Avalanche team. I, along with a few of my other media cohorts, had written these guys off early on. They looked like a different team. They looked like they didn’t have it in them, and maybe the pressures of being the favorites got to them.
I noted their (in)consistency issues, their inability to finish, their lack of depth scoring, the lying-back-on-their-heels all too often.
They weren’t playing like the Avs that were expected to compete—and hoist—the Stanley Cup this summer. They weren’t playing to their identity. They just looked…off.
But now they really do look different—in the best way possible.
This new and improved (and healthy) team looks…scary. They’re playing like the dominant team we’ve seen in the recent past. The top line is once again proving they are the best in the league. The team’s depth is firing on all cylinders and chipping in. Everyone’s competing hard in all three zones. They’re hard on pucks. They have arguably the best goaltender in the league. The list goes on:
They have the third-most wins in the NHL.
They’ve scored the fourth-most goals in the league, while allowing the second-fewest.
The second-best goals-per-game average.
The second-best goals-against-per-game average.
They’re second in the penalty kill department.
They’re firing the most shots on net per game and allowing the fewest shots to reach their goalie.
The list goes on.
A win could presumably move some of these “second bests” into “league-leading,” further cementing their spot on the NHL’s throne.
A win against the big, bad West-leading Vegas this afternoon would joust the Knights right off their high-horse.
This Avalanche team looks like the real deal, and today they have the chance to prove once and for all that they really are.
Projected Lineup against Vegas:
*Jacob MacDonald, who would usually slot in on Dan Renouf’s spot, is questionable for today’s matinee against Vegas, according to coach Bednar.
Puck drop from Ball Arena is set for 1 p.m. MST.