The Arizona Coyotes vs Colorado Avalanche first-round series may come down to who can perform better on the special teams. While the Arizona Coyotes had an adequate power play during the 2019-20 season, they have failed miserably in the postseason. During the regular season campaign, they had a 19.2 percent success rate with the man advantage. During the postseason against the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche, they have come way short with just two power-play tallies out of 23 attempts.
In the current first-round series against the Avalanche, they are 0-9. While the Avalanche had a 22.7 percent success ratio on the power play during the regular season. In the postseason they are at a 21.7 rate. Clearly, if the Coyotes do not start converting on their power play and limiting their opponents’ power-play chances, they will see their playoffs come to an end early.
Arizona Coyotes vs Colorado Avalanche Power Play
As the postseason progresses it becomes more and more paramount for the Coyotes to score on the power play. When you’re up against a talented and offensive powerhouse like Colorado, it’s even bigger. While the defence has been there to keep the team in the game, Darcy Kuemper has been playing out of his mind. In Game 1 facing the Avalanche, he saw 40 shots. In Game 3, he faced 36 shots in just the first two periods. For the game, he had an amazing 49 saves. When you allow that many shots on your netminder, eventually the odds will prevail against you.
If your goalie and your defence are keeping you competitive, when you get power-play opportunities, you’ve got to make them count. It can turn a game around… or even a playoff series.
It’s not that the Arizona Coyotes power play participants aren’t skilled at putting the puck in the net. Phil Kessel led the team in power-play tallies with nine during the regular season. He was supported by Carl Soderberg and Christian Dvorak who each had six. Jakob Chychrun had five extra-man advantage scores but has failed to get a point in the postseason. The Coyotes have only had one goal from their blueline, coming from the stick of captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That’s not going to do it against a team like the Avalanche.
Arizona Coyotes Power Play Must Improve
If any NHL team intends to be successful in the playoffs, they must have an effective power play. When you’re playing a best-of-seven-game series every goal counts. When your power play is struggling, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Another player the Coyotes need to add some scoring from is Conor Garland. He has but one goal in the postseason and the Avalanche are beating him up every chance they get. He was their leading scorer during the regular season, so they are trying to limit his production.
Now that the Coyotes have won Game 3, the team really needs to move forward with a better power play to get past the tough Colorado Avalanche. Whether that means changing up the power play combinations or what… Rick Tocchet needs to get his power-play unit to do their job.
Colorado Avalanche Must be Frustrated
The Avalanche just like the Nashville Predators have to be frustrated that they can’t score at will against Kuemper. They have their top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen firing shots at him every game. Their power play is not exactly ticking on all cylinders either. Nazem Kadri has the lone power-play tally for the Avalanche in the three games thus far. They are 1-9 with the extra man, so combining both team’s stats, you have a whopping 3 for 32 success rate on the power play. Pretty amazing. There can only be one explanation for this. It’s playoff hockey, and every player is going all out and right now the penalty kill is dominating.
The Avalanche have a plethora of highly-offensive skilled powered players that they can throw out there on the power play. They just haven’t been able to solve Kuemper yet. The facts are though if they continue to pepper the netminder with shots, eventually, some will hit the net.
In a short series, goaltending can really steal a series. Look at what Carey Price is doing in his postseason performance. He, like Kuemper, is keeping his team in it. That’s all you need in a short seven-game series… a chance to win. Then, it’s all about execution and the desire to win.
This Series is Getting Interesting
At the outset, many thought the hapless Coyotes would be swept. After all, they were one of the teams lucky enough to be included in the 24-team qualifying round and Colorado was a top-four ranked team in the league. Yet, the Coyotes got past a Nashville team in four games to move on to face the swift, talented Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to view the play of Cale Makar, you are missing something. When you see the maturity and confidence he displays it hits you right in the face of how good he really is. His passes are crisp and on target, and he unleashes a deadly shot from wherever he is. He tends to have the green light to advance into the offensive zone at his own discretion and he does exactly that.
Now that it is a four-game series, the next game is HUGE. If the Avalanche prevail, they go up 3-1, and that is almost impossible to overcome. If the Coyotes win, it is all tied up and becomes a three-game series.
The big question will be can either team score on the power play to give them the advantage?
We’ll find out Monday when they drop the puck for Game 4.