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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.

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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