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AVS WRAP: A look back at sweep of Preds, a look ahead to Round 2

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Just like last year, to this point. A Western Conference title and a sweep of a division rival in the first round, followed by a nearly a week off. What will be different for the Avs this time will be its second-round opponent. It won’t be the Vegas LTIR Golden Knights. It’ll be either the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues, with Game 1 either Saturday or Monday (well, it’s not official yet on either date, but that’s the high likelihood).

The Avs know they will be hounded with questions of “How are you going to get over that second-round hump this time?” “Are you worried about another second-round exit?” It might irritate the heck out of them and the fans, but that’s life in the big time. It comes with the territory.

I obviously think this is a much better team than last year – and that was a real good team. But this team is better because:

  • Unlike last year, when Joe Sakic went back to retreads like Carl Soderberg and Patrik Nemeth at the trade deadline, he added three real good pieces in Arturri Lehkonen, Josh Manson and Nico Sturm, not to mention Andrew Cogliano. They have really added new dimensions to the team, while Soderberg and Nemeth were liabilities.
  • Nazem Kadri is still active, playing a strong second-line center.
  • The goaltending, with Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz, is better than last year.
  • Guys such as Bo Byram have added more depth to the defense.
  • Cale Makar is a cyborg.
  • Valeri Nichushkin has turned into one of the best all-around forwards in the league.

Makar pretty much won that game for the Avs at the end tonight. Another laser of a goal, followed by another patented rush down the left wall and brilliant setup of Valeri Nichushkin for the game-winner, and that was that.

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THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • I really don’t know which team is the better matchup for the Avs in Round 2. Marc-Andre Fleury and the Wild worry me with their physicality and better defensive system. The Blues worry me because they still have a lot of guys who won a Stanley Cup just three years ago. But, yeah, I’d be more worried if I were a fan of the Blues or Wild in playing the Avs.
  • Here are early results of a poll tonight

  • The Avalanche swept its first-round series for the second consecutive season, the fourth sweep of a best-of- seven series in franchise history. In addition to the club’s first-round sweep of St. Louis in 2021, Colorado also swept the 2001 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Vancouver and the 1996 Stanley Cup Final vs. Florida.
  • Colorado trailed for a total of 4:57 in the series and didn’t trail until the third period of tonight’s contest.
  • Makar had 10 points in the four games. Is that good?
  • Makar said someone threw Skittles at him in the final minute of the game.
  • How is Darcy Kuemper? Good, I think. But he never skated today. Let’s assume he’ll be good to go for Game 1. But we do NOT know that yet.
  • Here’s how Makar described when the Predators took their only lead of the series, in the third. “Definitely a kick in the ass. Excuse my language.”
  • Makar on his assist to Nichushkin: “Just knowing their system, I knew there would be a guy open. It’s mainly man-to-man, so once I beat my guy (it) was gonna open up. Val pulled off the back.”
  • Makar: “It’s game by game for us. We’re not going to think ahead. Hopefully we can keep it that way on the mental side of things.”
  • I thought Pavel Francouz looked a little shaky at times tonight, but overall he did a nice job coming in for Kuemper like he did in this series.
  • Nathan MacKinnon: “We gotta forget about this series. Brand new, next round against St. Louis or Minny. We’re excited for the challenge.”
  • MacKinnon: “We have a lot deeper team this year. But we gotta go perform.”
  • MacKinnon on what he’ll likely do with some down time the next couple days: “Probably play some video games, hang out, see my dogs.”
  • Avs will stay overnight in Nashville, and fly back Tuesday.
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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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dk

Makar is so good that even in the midst of a hockey play he knew those projectiles were Skittles and not M&Ms or Reece’s Pieces. Then he’s a good enough sport to compliment the neanderthals that launched said projectiles.

And, I thought Francouz was fine. We don’t get through the next round without Kuemper though.

Charlie Anderson

Well said except regarding the goaltending. Avs are built to win this year. They can do it with Franky easy. Annunen less easy but it could happen.

dk

Easy? Don’t be daft.

GWood

That was a serious butt kicking. Music city??? Their DJ sucked. In contrast, I think the Avs guy at Ball arena is among the best. The dude in Minny sucks too – embarrassing.

Charlie Anderson

So, so true. Their fans suck too, buncha goons just like the team.

ricoflashback

At this point, I don’t think the Avs care who they play. They are laser focused on their game and what it takes to win. Contrary to previous years, Sakic did an incredible job in acquiring Manson, Lehkonen, Sturm and Cogliano. ALL of them are solid, depth acquisitions. I also believe that JJ, Murray or even MacDermid would provide the best team on the ice in place of Girard. Lastly – – they should rename the Nashville Predators the Nashville Cross-Checkers. They really like to use their sticks on everyone’s backside.

Last edited 4 months ago by ricoflashback
Yan Girard

Thank God, you aren’t GM or coach!

Bob Neal

I wish he was.

Yan Girard

Without offense, my confidence is more in Sakic, Hall of famer and Bednar winning Calder trophy.

ricoflashback

Yeah – – we would have already won a couple Cups by now.

Yan Girard

Begin to coach Novice level. It’s an excellent start.

Last edited 4 months ago by Alexander A
Donald Victory

Jrod is still there…

Paul

A health issue(s) is the only valid excuse for this team not to win it all this season. Talent level is head and shoulder pads above the rest. Now just don’t screw it up, Beddie . . . .

Sean Washington

Jrod has three-year track record of being unable to change the team real time to offset the other team’s changes.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sean Washington
Charlie Anderson

such a stupid comment

dk

What is the typical arc of the first-time NHL coach? Is it a Stanley Cup in the first 4 years? Enlighten us.

Karl Keen

Not our best performance, but like a winning team does, we found a way. That’s all I can ask for. I wasn’t pleased with the refs. MacKinnon had a potential breakaway taken away when his stick was clearly slashed out of his hands in first when we were still up 1-0 and pressing. Makar clearly high-sticked in 2nd, but got a goal a few minutes later and then on then Trashville’s 2nd goal ( I think), Nuke dumped the puck which was clearly knocked down with a high stick by their defenseman and no whistle blew — led directly to… Read more »

NMAvs

The refs were poor, my worry is we might be seeing the start of the traditional playoff officiating where they ignore calls that let physical teams break the rules to limit more talented sides.

It’s caused the Avs problems in the past and the league is clearly fine with the different officiating standards regular season to playoffs. I hope Sakic did enough to make a tougher lineup that’s able to police things themselves when the refs stop doing their job.

jimstrohmeier

I want to thank Dater personally for the Dater-jinx on this series – I bought a series sweep win ticket for the Avs and will collect $300 plus my $100 bet today at Red Rocks Casino.

Yeah this team is deep, but Makar seems to have kicked it up TWO gears! Dude, a Norris Candidate and possible Conn Smythe at the end . . . (Cale’s pricey contract now looks like a bargain)

#GoAvsGo

Sean Washington

Unlike last year, when Joe Sakic went back to retreads like Carl Soderberg and Patrik Nemeth at the trade deadline…

Yes indeed AD. Those were really dumb moves. At least he realized it and made better decisions. It did not help that MacKinnon openly said they did not need to boost the team. MacKinnon was dead wrong after his vanishing act versus VGFs.

NMAvs

Considering the extremely limited practice opportunities with last year’s covid scheduling I felt the deadline moves to get known players who knew the system already made some sense. This year is a different situation though and Sakic made different moves accordingly.

Yan Girard

I hope see Marc-Andre Fleury in second round, an old worn goalie :).

Bob Neal

Yes, you may get the Kuemper/MAF matchup that will prove who is the better goalie until they meet again.. I think the defensemen standing in front of the goalie have an awful lot to do with how good the goalie looks.

dk

lol…

Sean Washington

Could not have said it better myself. After seven games and triple overtime to boot!

ricoflashback

MAF up in smoke last night like all your comments, Yan.

Charlie Anderson

Yan is saying he wants to play MAF dumas

dk

Actually, Yan has a history of professing his undying love for MAF via comments about how Kuemper is not good enough to win a Cup and that Joe should have traded for MAF at the deadline.

Yan Girard

I didn’t never tell that Kuemper isn’t enough good to win Stanley Cup. You can verify all my comments at this subject.

Last edited 4 months ago by Alexander A
dk

I don’t need to verify all your comments, nor do I have time. (If the “dashboard” function worked on this site, it’d be easy) All the regular commenters here know I’m not wrong about your opinion on Kuemper/MAF.

Edit: I did manage to scare up one of your comments: https://coloradohockeynow.com/2022/01/03/darcy-kuemper-avalanche-needs-to-improve/#comment-38657

I know I’ve read many more. I’m you’ll say something different about your own comment, like I don’t actually read what I think I’m reading. But whatever.

Last edited 4 months ago by dk
Yan Girard

I think that many people are nervous at the idea that Avs play Wild and MAF in 2nd round. The survey of AD demonstrates that. Then, I understand your joy.

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