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Now would be a good time for Avs to get back on the beam

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I can hardly believe I’m writing this, but the Minnesota Wild are now tied with the Avs in points, in the Honda West Division. The Wild caught the Avs in points by getting one in their 5-4 overtime loss at home to St. Louis – a game the Wild trailed at one point 3-0 in the second period.

I still don’t think the Wild are as good as their record and I still think the Avs would smack them in the mouth should they meet in the playoffs. But the fact that there is a chance the Avs could now start a first-round playoff series with the Wild on the road, at Xcel Energy Center, is setting off some alarm bells here at Chez Dater at least. I’m sure it is for a few of you too.

The big thing the Avs still have going for them in the division chase: two games in hand still over Minnesota. Those four potential points that the Wild don’t have the same opportunity to get are likely to be big down the stretch. But for that two-games-in-hand advantage to mean anything has to start with Friday’s game with the San Jose Sharks at Ball Arena. If the Avs want to avoid the ignominy of ceding home-ice advantage to the Wild for a playoff series next month, they damn well better take care of business against the Sharks.

The oddsmakers say the Avs are heavy favorites to win the game, including the folks up North at realcasinoscanada. But that’s what is making me even a bit more nervous about this one. I am a bit worried about this team going into a funk at the wrong time of the year. I really worry about that last Covid pause having screwed up the team’s rhythm. Those five days the Avs spent cooped up in their hotel rooms in St. Louis did some real damage to their energy levels, both mentally and physically, I believe. They have not looked good at all since the first three minutes of last Saturday’s game against the Blues, and they take a three-game losing streak into this contest.

The good news: Philipp Grubauer and Mikko Rantanen should both be back to the lineup Friday night. Joonas Donskoi might, too, but I think he may need a couple more days.

The Masters

The Avs today sent Martin Kaut back to Loveland, along with Dan Renouf and winger Miikko Salomaki. For Kaut, it was a very disappointing three games he spent with the big club. I mean, it’s tough to dump on him much, not getting a ton of ice time. That said, he didn’t look too good in the time he got. Fair or not, you just don’t get too many chances as a minor-league call-up. I’m sure Kaut will get more chances, but this was a setback for him, no question about it.

The Avs have the advantage in getting home-ice against the Wild for the first round. And, they still have a shot at first overall in the division. But the way Vegas is playing, that’s looking more like a longer shot every day. It’s time for this team to get refocused and tighten the belts and pull the socks up and all those other wonderful cliches, and get back to winning hockey games.

That needs to start Friday night at Ball.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Matt Briggle

One editorial note, I’m pretty sure Salomaki isn’t a goalie. Did you mean Peyton Jones? I’m holding onto my faith in this team. Yes they have hit a bit of a wall here since the pause, but that is not entirely unexpected. This has been an insane crazy season and the guys have been going virtually non-stop for a couple of months here. Some let down was inevitable and the stars seemed to align for that to happen now. Between the pause, the road trip, and who was missing from the lineup it doesn’t worry me too much – yet.… Read more »

GWood

It’s just so hard to see a team like VGK not suffering any of the same injuries and Covid pauses like the Avs are dealing with. Talk about a momentum killer. How can a team escape those set backs like that for the bulk of the season, I just don’t get the karma or whatever driving force is at play. I know they have had a couple of guys go down for very short periods, but nothing like the Avs have dealt with – not even remotely close. I find it fascinating that some guys can play a brutal high… Read more »

Richard Trujillo

The smaller, more finesse teams tend to get beat up over the course of the season and then fizzle out in the playoffs. The bigger, more physical teams tend to stay healthier and are built for long, tough playoff series. The Avs are a finesse team and have been for a very long time.

I really want to be wrong but that is how it has played out almost every single season I have been watching the Avalanche for 25 years.

jimstrohmeier

Like I told Dater recently, someone should look into the lab workers’ gambling habits. Losing Grubauer, then Rantenan, when they were hot, just smacks of meddling to me. I’m not accusing any labs or their techs of anything, but with the billions in bets on the line, the NHL should be at least monitoring the labs. They should get a second opinion on lab results? Maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist, but I have brushed up against organized crime in my life, and could see their methods working here. (No, I wasn’t involved or knew them well, but met a… Read more »

Jared Moss

I’ve said that we needed to dump Erik Johnson for years cause of injuries… this is the time and season were we desperately need him… oh and hes injured.. all season pretty much.. sucks but hes always a good difference when in the line up but he never is we need that 6 mill or another D man, ship him to Seattle with a 1st round so we can replace his glass ass

Catatafish

This might be good they have this challenge in St Louis and pause after a strong run. Hopefully it teaches them that you can always make excuses for yourselves but winners don’t do that. They fix the problem.

Kaut is just too slow, I wrote about this some time back here on the comments. He should work the legs like crazy this summer.

Salomäki’s first name: Miikka. Like the ex-goalie Kiprusoff.

jimstrohmeier

The Avs needed a Fleury level netminder and they got Dubnik. Management should have known this season’s roster had a great shot at taking it all. More should’ve been spent (draft picks, prospects) to get one of Carolina’s goalies, IMO. We took one goalie each from losing Sabres and lowly Sharks? Grubauer has earned a much better back up, with his stellar performance this year. If the Avs repeat last year’s injury prone finish, they will have squandered a primo opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley

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