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Avs Game Analysis

Avs starting to look Presidential, but can Jonas Johansson win the season finale?



I know the first question on a lot of Avalanche fans’ minds right now: Do we really want the Presidents’ Trophy? Isn’t that kind of like, a curse or something? And the answer is: well, it has been for many teams that won the honor, for best regular-season record in the NHL.

But let’s take time out for a little history lesson here too. Was it a curse for the 2001 Avalanche? No, it wasn’t. But for the last seven teams that have won it? Yes, it was.

The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season were the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks. The team before that? Detroit, in 2008. So, um, yeah…it hasn’t worked out too well for most teams that have won the hardware. But, again…2001 Avs. Two Game 7 victories in the playoffs that year. That trophy was the gateway for the bigger one, the Stanley Cup.

Only four teams have won the Presidents’ Trophy and the Cup in the same season since 2001. But I’m of the opinion that this is a good year to win it. I would much rather have a seventh game at Ball Arena than that madhouse in Las Vegas. And besides, it’s not really the first two games of a playoff series where it matters so much in having home ice. It’s games 5 and 7 that always seem to matter most. Plus, keep this in mind: the Avs have never won a seventh game on the road in a playoff series, which is pretty hard to believe actually.

The Avs can clinch home ice for any round of the playoffs with a win Thursday night against the same L.A. Kings squad they obliterated tonight at Ball. Final score was 6-0, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. A hat trick from J.T. Compher led the way for the Avs, who scored thrice in the first two periods each.

The scenario is this: if the Avs win, in any fashion possible, they win best record in the NHL, and would face the St. Louis Blues in a best-of-seven first-round matchup. A loss – either in regulation or overtime/shootout, and the Vegas Golden Knights win the division and the No. 1 seed in the Honda West Division, and the Avs would play the Minnesota Wild in the first round, with home-ice advantage.

There was something of a shocking development after the game, however. Jared Bednar said he will start Jonas Johansson in goal, not Philipp Grubauer. I thought I misheard when another reporter asked if Grubauer would start and he said no. I asked Bednar if, in fact, I misheard, and he said I hadn’t. Bednar said he hasn’t started Grubauer in back-to-backs all season long, and he isn’t going to start now.

Not even with a Presidents’ Trophy and home ice throughout the playoffs on the line, after a game in which a pylon could have won the game in the net tonight?

No, said Bednar. Johansson has played well, he said, and he doesn’t want to risk an injury to Grubauer in the last game of the year before the first round.

Again, I’m kinda shocked by this. You’re going to sit the potential Vezina Trophy winner in a game like this, in favor of the backup who was booted out of Buffalo not too long ago? I don’t quite get that one at all, but he’s the coach.

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So, do you want the Blues, who won the Cup two years ago, or do you want the Wild, who have beaten the Avs twice in previous playoff series – both times when the Avs were favored?

The fact is, the Avs want the Blues. Because, if they get the Blues, that means the team will have accomplished one of its preseason goals: getting home ice for any series.

“We know the playoffs are the playoffs, a completely new season and you have to prove yourself once again. We know how important matchups are in the playoffs and if we’re able to have Game 7s in our building and to start off series in our building that’s a big key for us. So we’re excited for tomorrow,” Gabe Landeskog said. ““(The Presidents’ Trophy) was our goal in training camp and here we are, one win away from doing that. Having said that, we know it’s just Step 1 and then a lot of work is going to start after that.”

This game was a rout from the jump. The Avs got the first 13 shots in the game and had a 3-0 lead, on goals by Joonas Donskoi, P.E. Bellemare and Compher, whose three goals gave him 10 on the season. He has four goals in the last two games, which has really helped, considering the Avs had to play without Nathan MacKinnon for the third time in four games.

Said Compher: “It’s pretty cool to get three. But all three goals were from great plays from teammates. They made it real easy for me.”

So, win just one more against a bad team, and the regular-season title is yours. But will this be a case of: be careful what you wished for?

I don’t think you can look at life like that. Win what you can, when you can, and don’t worry about the past.

NOTEBOOK: Bednar said Nathan MacKinnon will not play Thursday. He still indicated he’ll be ready to start the playoffs. I gotta be honest though: I’m worried. Two injuries in the final week of the regular season? Not good, Bob. Let’s hope I’m just fretting for nothing. … Avs are now 15-0-1 in the last 16 at Ball. … Landeskog reached the 20-goal mark for the eighth time in his 10-year career. Three more and he’ll tie the franchise record held by Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk. … Grubauer’s 1.95 goals-against average ranks second in franchise history to Patrick Roy’s 1.94 in 2001-02. … Cale Makar played in his 100th NHL game. He has 93 points. … Jayson Megna got an assist, his first career point as an Av and first in the NHL since 2017. … Free vaccinations were given out at the game tonight, and I assume that will be the case tomorrow too.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Skyler Thomson

I haven’t verified this myself. But I recently read that the team that has won the presidents trophy has gone on to win the cup about 22% of the time. Which is still statistically higher then any other standings position. So while it’s far from a guarantee. You are still more likely to win the cup finishing in 1st, rather then 2nd or 3rd or any other position.

Matt Briggle

First, I have to do a little humble brag. Down big in the championship week of my fantasy league I picked the right night to add JTC to my lineup – what a night for Jimothy Timothy. Think I’m in good shape to win it this year. Honestly, I think having G back in the lineup might have been more important than missing MacK in this particular game. It’s simply amazing how much he settles things down in the D-zone and moves the puck up the ice whether he’s skating it or passing it. I’ve said it before, but that… Read more »

B Phillips

if i ever rubbed a lamp and will smith popped out id wish for everyone who says Jimothy Timothy to spontaneously combust into a white-hot fireball that effectively erases them from this earth. including Moser. infact, Mose is first.


I’m fine with starting JoJo for the finale. He got the W & looked good enough last time out against LA. Especially now that the Kings look like their minds are on the golf courses & fishing trips. Maybe they’ll come out with some fire early after the shit-kicking they received, but I think it’s more likely that LA is just done with this season. They certainly looked like it this game.


Nice effort last night. Need another one tonight. I understand resting Grubauer. The Avs offense and defense around JJ should be enough to win on a back to back. Not to beat a dead horse but the Avs are much better playing speed and youth as opposed to a plodder like Soderberg. I still don’t see Sherwood’s value. Not great speed, not overly physical or much of a scoring threat. Nemeth had his best game with the Avs. Solid all night on the puck, physical when he needed to be and great decisions and clear outs.

Joel Stefaniak

I think the boys win it for J.J. The last action he sees (fingers crossed) and it’s a big game. That would go a long way for his confidence moving forward.


I like the point that this is a good year to win the president’s cup. As for playing JoJo, perhaps the coach wants to motivate the team to play hard and sit back and let Grub win one for them. The kings will likely play very hard tonight, as this is it for them and guys are playing for jobs. Hard to agree with Bednar’s decision, but when the Avs win, all will be forgotten.

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