It was the kind of psychological boost the Avalanche needed – and got.
A solid win over a St. Louis Blues team that came into Denver with a 16-game point streak. Some late-game issues, yeah, with Ryan O’Reilly nearly leading the Blues back to a tie, but Nazem Kadri put a bow on the game with his empty-net goal.
I thought one of the best things to come out of the game was the performance(s) of some guys who needed to be better – and were. Josh Manson, for one. He played nearly 20 minutes, scored a goal and was a plus-1. Sam Girard played better than he has of late. Alex Newhook had a couple of assists.
“I think it was a game that was important for us to play the right way, and we did for the majority of the game. And it felt it felt good. I think the guys needed that one,” said Erik Johnson, who also played well, getting a goal in the win.
So, here’s the question: Who do you want the Avs to play in the first round, folks, Dallas or Nashville? Because, it’s looking like it’s a certainty it’ll be either of those teams now. We shouldn’t have to worry about Vegas anymore, barring a minor miracle/collapse by Dallas in the final two games. Dallas and Nashville are tied in points with 95.
Dallas plays Arizona tonight. One point by them and Vegas is officially eliminated (and what a shame, right? Couldn’t happen to a nicer organization). Nashville plays…the Avalanche in their next game, tomorrow night. If the Avs win tomorrow, they’ll go a long way toward prompting a meeting with the Preds a few days later.
Is that who they’d want to play, though, or would they want Nashville? The Stars still have Seguin and Benn and Klingberg and Heiskanen and…Joe Pavelski. They beat the Avs two years ago in the playoffs.
I think the Avs would match up better with the Predators myself, but, hey, whatever. It would also be a satisfying win, to get some revenge on the Stars.
More about last night:
- Avs tied their all-time franchise record for most points in a season (118, sharing with 2000-01 Cup team).
Colorado got two goals from defensemen and now has 63 from its blueline this season, the most by any NHL backline since the Washington Capitals had 94 in 1992-93. The Avalanche’s 235 points from its defensemen this season is the most since the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (240).
J.T. Compher extended his point streak to four games, establishing a new career best. He previously had registered three-game point streaks on five occasions (last: Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2021). Compher has collected five points (1g/4a) over his four-game stretch.
Darcy Kuemper made his 56th start of the season to reach a new career high and surpass his previous career best (55) set during the 2018-19 campaign. Kuemper’s 37 wins are tied with Jacob Markstrom for fourth in the NHL and rank fifth in Quebec/Avalanche history.
- More from EJ: “We weren’t doubting ourselves, but I just think we had gotten away from our game for a little bit. I think our details were slipping. I think we thought the game was going to come a little easier than it was. We just had to kind of trust the process and get back to playing our fast-paced game. I think we were trying to slow the game down a little bit the last few games and I think we needed a good home game there. We had a great start, kind of let it slip there at the end a little bit, but overall, 52 minutes was just awesome.”
- The Avs had a team meeting yesterday morning, with “leadership group” players doing a lot of talking. I’m sure EJ was one of them.
- Mikko Rantanen was back on the ice today as a regular participant in practice. It looks good that he’ll play tomorrow night against the Predators.
- Jared Bednar said he might rest a couple of other top guys in the game. I doubt Cale Makar will be one, as he’s still in a real battle with Preds defenseman Roman Josi for Norris Trophy consideration.
- Avs still have a shot at the Presidents’ Trophy, as the Panthers are starting to slump a bit. Two points back, with each team having two games left.
- Gabe Landeskog didn’t practice with the boys today, but here’s what Bednar said about him: “Gabe’s improving. He’s doing more and more and (we’re) gearing him up for the start of the playoffs.”