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Avalanche playoffs

AVALANCHE WRAP: Thoughts on second round, looking ahead to WCF with Oilers

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Jeff Roberson/AP

I’m still in a little bit of shock as I write this, so bear with me. The Avalanche WON a second-round playoff series tonight, on a Darren Helm goal with just under six seconds left in regulation, a slap shot that Bobby Hull would have admired. Rod Serling might as well have the byline here.

Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. Tuesday night, Ball Arena, 6 p.m., Game 1.

Before I forget: Colorado Hockey Now will be in Edmonton for Games 3 and 4. I haven’t been to Edmonton since the Covid bubble playoffs of 2020, when I spent 50 straight days there covering every second of Avs playoff action, while no other Denver media outlet bothered to go. So, no, I won’t turn down any donations to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar again. I am trying to arrange for Terry Frei and I both to go, and Terry eats like a pig, so send your donations now (link to the Tip Jar is here, and everybody is going to get a very big public thank you from me who contributes)! (Just kidding Terry).

I’m booking tickets now.

Speaking of thank yous: thank you to the following people who have donated recently: Todd Christensen, Matthew Benedetti, John Campanella, Trevor Stephens, Gregory Baldwin, Daniel Buttolph, Kalyn Beasley, Todd Tobin and Justin Leblanc.

You help contribute to making our coverage better.

This is going to be fun. Nathan MacKinnon vs. Connor McDavid. Tyson Barrie playing against the Avs again. Darcy Kuemper vs. Mike Smith.

$20 Dollar Bonus Voucher!

Plenty of subplots abound.

Some thoughts on the series just completed:

  • The Blues are just one stubborn, tough team, aren’t they? But, finally, the Avs’ depth won out. I mean, all three goals came from bottom-six guys tonight.
  • Let’s be honest: the complexion of this series changed a lot after that Jordan Binnington injury. The Blues were up 1-0 at the time in Game 3, tied 1-1 in the series. You could just see the Blues sag after that. But that’s on them, in the end. They didn’t have the depth to compete all the way after that.
  • Did anyone notice former Av Brandon Saad at all in this series? I sure didn’t. Avs made the right call there in not giving him a huge free-agent contract last summer. Now, the Blues are saddled with it.
  • Avs are going to have a big edge in defense in this next series. Edmonton gives up a LOT of high-quality chances.
  • But is it going to be fun seeing McDavid and Leon Draisaitl coming over the boards every other minute? Uh, probably not.
  • Josh Manson with that “save” tonight, to keep it just a 2-1 game: Uuuuuge.
  • What was Kuemper doing here, by the way?

  • I still can’t believe it was a Darren Helm slap shot with time running out that won this thing. Unreal.
  • Speaking of Manson…

  • I thought another key in this series was keeping Vladimir Tarasenko in check. Other than that Game 5 goal, he was a total non-factor.
  • I thought Cale Makar was much more aggressive tonight with the puck than the last couple games, and that was big.
  • I liked how Andre Burakovsky responded after being benched a couple of games. He had an assist and did some other good things.
  • Western Conference finals. Hard to believe.
  • But it’s here.
  • Finally.

Here’s the schedule:

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Peterman

Old guys getting it done. Game 5 it was Bozak. Oilers also feature 40 YEAR OLD netminder Mike Smith.

JD16

Cannot wait!
It will be interesting to see the goalie matchup. Kuemper played well tonight. He should’ve had the second goal. And Manson saved his butt (which happens). But he made some big saves after it was tied 2-2. It will be interesting to see how Bednar decides to play it. Shutdown, and try and win with depth. Or let it be a track meet?
the playoffs this year have been, not very playoff-y at all. Watch it will be of all series, this one that the games will be 1-0, 2-1 affairs.

Dave North

The second goal? That was the 2 on 1 with a flubbed dive that did nothing to prevent the pass. How could any goalie be expected to save that? The first one was after terrible coverage in the d-zone (by JTC – how easily he could have been the villain instead of the hero in this game) to allow Faulk to just walk in and shoot. The Avs had many more shots, but the Blues had the best scoring opportunities. I would even say they had the third best opportunity on the breakaway that Kuemper saved. It can’t be easy… Read more »

JD16

Obviously I meant the one that beat him straight up.

sjavsfan

I was confident they’d win it in 6. It wasn’t easy, but glad they pulled it out. GO AVS!!

Matt Briggle

I’ll be honest, I felt really good about the Avs winning this game tonight – but I was getting really nervous during the game. I did get a calming feeling for whatever reason with about 5 minutes left that there was no way they were going to lose it. I just never saw Helm with the game winner like that though. I told my friend (who isn’t a hockey fan) after the game that if she ever wanted to give a shot at being a hockey fan that this upcoming series with the Oilers would be the time to try.… Read more »

JD16

I joked above, watch this be the ONE series these playoffs that every game is 1-0 or 2-1.

But with these rosters even that would be a helluva watch. There’s nothing more exciting than a goalie putting on a clinic. That’s really playoff hockey. I feel as if I’ve missed that so far.

jensen

I was silent and could not show any reaction. When Mack scored the late 4:3 in Game 5, I had tears in my eyes. A moment later the 4:4. I think it was smart today not to react 😂 The Series with the Blues felt like a roller coaster. wow… I’m still shocked too.

par

Does anyone have a clue as to what’s up with Rantanen? I mean, he looked completely flustered, almost like a 40 year-old lacross player on the ice for the first time during beer league.

D Malingo

Same question here. He’s been bad all playoffs, but last night in particular he was awful. Injury? Head not in it for some reason? Sure hope he can get going, the Avs need him at his best.

Thomas Wilgus

I could be wrong but he looks like he put on some extra lb’s during the season. I know he’s referred to as “Moose” but he looks a tad slower in his skating and quickness.

slowpokeczech

Good question…

Physical injury? Mental block? …he’s been streaky, at times, in his career.

Now would be a good time for 96 to go on a heater!

Al

He is way overpaid in my opinion. His contribution in the playoffs should be elevated and its not.

Karl Keen

The best thing that happened to the Avs in that game was going into the third behind. No lead to choke away. Instead, the pesky Blues sat back and let us take it to them. Their legs seemed gone. They gave everything they had in game 5 to get back into the series and they were tired.

Blues are built to win in playoffs. No different than the type of team that eliminated us the last three years. We finally did it. We can exhale and figure out how to stop Avs killer Evander Kane in the next round!

GWood

Let’s ease up on Kemps, he slipped, it happens. He is going to take us to the hockey promised land, mark my words. I still say Avs V Carolina, but we’ll see. Doesn’t matter, either way, Avs win the cup this year. On to the next challenge.

Aaron

I’m a lifelong Avs fan that recently moved to Raleigh. This would be a dream come true.

Charlie Anderson

I’m still just so glad to NOT have been calling for the benching of JT Compher, Helm, or LOC lately. Guys lets just pretend that Kemps looked good and won that series for us like a boss and is the Cup Winning Goalie that we really need right now.

Thomas Wilgus

The genius of Joe Sakic; he signed Helm and and traded for Manson just for these moments. How sweet it is!

Eric

The Avs still haven’t faced a top-choice goalie for a whole series. That’s easy street for their firepower, but it won’t last. You get lucky once or twice, but they still have a lot to prove, especially in facing real adversity.

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