As another playoff run starts, the Avs appear poised to defend their Cup

Apr 18, 2023, 6:54 AM

Nathan MacKinnon...

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Here we go! The drudgery of the long regular season is over. Now, it’s winning time.

This is what the Avalanche have been waiting for all these months. I believe Avs’ fans should feel great about this team’s chances of getting back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Allow me to list the reasons:

1. They are healthy. I know, I know. No Gabe Landeskog. Yep, that stings. But, honestly, I stopped counting on The Captain being a part of this playoff run beginning around late January. It never felt right. So he doesn’t factor into this equation. Other than that, everyone else is ready to go. I’ll take this roster against anyone in the West, with no hesitation.

2. Nathan Mackinnon. If there were any concerns about this team’s “want to,” all you have to do is look at Mackinnon right now. Dude is in heat-seeking mode. He plays like he’s pissed off and that kind of fire is contagious. Put it this way: If Nate won’t allow his teammates to eat pasta with alfredo sauce, you think he’s going to tolerate any half a** effort come playoff time?

3. Cale Makar. Maybe too much success came his way too soon. I got the feeling this season, even when he was healthy, he wasn’t 100% there. Which is fine. He knows. Heck, we all know. When he’s engaged, he’s the best 200-foot player in hockey. He’s the poster child for an Avs team that looked at the regular season as a chore and now it’s go time.

4. Alexandar Georgiev. One of the more underrated parts of this Avs’ run over the last few years has been Joe Sakic’s year-to-year approach with goaltenders. I can’t think of a perennial Stanley Cup contender that has had this much turnover in between the pipes. Darcy Kuemper may have had his faults, but he did backstop the Avs to the Cup. But Georgiev has actually been better. Here’s the regular season comparison between the two goalies in their first seasons with the Avs:

62 games
40 wins
2.53 GAA
.920 save %

57 games
37 wins
2.54 GAA
.921 save %

I do believe there will be more pressure on Georgiev this playoff run. The Avs won the Cup last year despite shoddy goaltending. This Avs team isn’t as high powered as last year’s, so the goaltending will have to be better.

5. The Avs know how to win. Man, that is so important this time of season. Been there, done that. What a powerful intangible that no one outside of Tampa Bay really understands. It will matter when adversity hits and I do believe there will be more of it during this playoff run compared to last year. That’s okay. This group is up for it.

There are more reasons I could easily list here. That’s how good this team is set up to make a deep run.

So here we go. Seattle, you’re up first. Make mine the Avs in five.


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