The Colorado Avalanche did what everyone thought they would do: won their first-round series. Picking them to win this one against Nashville Predators was not only the safest option but the right one. There were simply no odds in the Preds favour. And now, as the Colorado Avalanche playoff run continues, Nashville finishes with not a single win as a consolation in this year’s playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche Playoff Run Continues After Sweeping Nashville
This series started on the wrong foot for Nashville and things continued to go wrong as the team tried their best to survive. With no Juuse Saros in net, they couldn’t count on the probable Vezina finalist to help like they did last year. They had Connor Ingram, who played incredibly well and almost stole them Game 2 but it wasn’t enough. Now, they have to look at what went wrong and try their best to fix it in the offseason. It should be a long one.
Avalanche Are Avalanching Opponents
After sweeping the weakened St. Louis Blues in last year’s playoffs, the Avalanche did it again. There’s not much to say about this team that wasn’t said after Game 3. However, this series was an offensive masterclass by Colorado, with everyone contributing to help the team cash in. Only three out of 19 skaters got at least a point in this series with Cale Makar leading the way with 10, three goals and seven assists. Makar is also leading the league in points, ahead of players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. The Norris Trophy finalist helped keep the Avalanche playoff hopes high and is the gift that keeps on giving.
Two players that did well in the first four games were Artturi Lehkonen and Andre Burakovsky, with two and three points respectively. Valeri Nichushkin was also a highlight in the series, after having a tremendous career-high regular season. With two goals and three points in four games, Nichushkin got the game-winning goal in Game 4, sealing the deal for the Avs.
Mikko Rantanen didn’t find the back of the net against Nashville which is uncommon for him in the playoffs. However, he has five assists in four games and played really well throughout the series, creating good chances for his linemates. Gabriel Landeskog came back strong, getting three goals and six points, showing that his recovery went as smoothly as possible.
Avalanche Playoff Goaltending Doing Their Best
After Darcy Kuemper got hurt in Game 3, many thought Pavel Francouz might not be up to the task. And he proved everyone wrong. Head coach Jared Bednar decided not to put Kuemper in for Game 4 – as he should – and Francouz had a good game. Defending 28 out of 31 shots, he had a .903 save percentage and helped the team secure the win. The only worry now is keeping everyone healthy throughout the playoffs, something the team has struggled with in past years.
Francouz was injured in the 2020 playoffs and didn’t play a single game in the 2020-21 season. Kuemper is doing well, according to Bednar, but he also has a long injury history. Keeping their goaltenders rested and in full health is a priority. Nevertheless, for now, they have two more than capable goalies to enter the second round with the right foot.
Nashville Needs to Figure It Out
Not having their starting goaltender was surely a problem but the offence didn’t cooperate. Out of 21 skaters, seven didn’t appear on the scoresheet and only five scored at least once. Matt Duchene and Yakov Trenin had three goals each, Roman Josi, Eeli Tolvanen and Filip Forsberg had one. And Josi, one of the three Norris finalists this year, only had two points in four games. Things were not going their way.
In this offseason, Nashville will have to figure out what they are doing wrong and what needs to change. They do need another goalie as David Rittich was not a good option during the playoffs. But Ingram was definitely a bright spot in this series, finishing off with 3.64 goals against and a .913 save percentage. It could’ve been way worse.
They also need to improve their forward group, adding players that can move the puck and score under high pressure. Having only five players with at least a goal in the playoffs is unacceptable. Their defence can also use some help but the offence is the most flawed part. They need to figure it out to be in the playoffs – and advance to the second round next year.
Looking to Break Through The Second Round
Now that the Avalanche will have at least five days of rest until their opponent is set, they need to pay close attention to what went wrong in the past second-round eliminations. And correct those mistakes. They will face the winner of the Blues-Wild series and, to keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to clean their defence and break through the second round like they did the first. It won’t be a sweep – and no one expects it – but the Avalanche playoff team is a strong, skilled one and the odds are in their favour. If their luck will continue, that’s something to keep an eye on for the next couple of weeks.
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