There are plenty of things I miss about the Northwest Division days, and a large chunk of that has to do with the Colorado Avalanche. Beyond just the way that the Canucks have thoroughly dominated them in recent years, there’s also the fact that the Avs have now quickly become one of the most watchable teams in the entire league. It’s weird that it’s March 27th, and that these two teams are facing each other for just the 2nd time this season. But that’s the new reality we live in.
The Canucks make their one and only trip this season to the state where it’s legal to not only smoke pot but also cheer for Peyton Manning and his forehead. Tonight you can watch them try to win 4 games in a row after last night’s offensive outburst, all while keeping a close eye on the scoreboard.
It’s a busy Thursday night of hockey, but there’s one game in particular that should be of interest: the Coyotes at the Devils. Cheering on the Devils is something that both the optimists in Vancouver and the people attempting to steer the tank in the right direction can agree upon.
Puck Drop: 6:00 PM PST
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
Since they played last night, the Canucks didn’t have a morning skate today, so there’s no real lineup news. With that being said here’s their projected lineup courtesy of the good people over at Daily Faceoff:
The Avalanche have been something of a prime regression candidate for basically the entirety of the season, but things have really gotten particularly dire recently. They’re now all the way down to 27th in the league in corsi close %, and you can look at their tumble down the ranks here thanks to Extra Skater’s nifty little visual:
Oh, hey! That was an impromptu and unexpected appearance from Patrick Roy. But I’m not complaining; he makes everything just a little bit funner with his feistiness.
Here are the things Colorado has going for them:
They’ve got a special amount of firepower up front. Matt Duchene is on the short list of “must-see” players currently in the NHL, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly are fantastic two-way players, and they’ve got a historically great 18 year old on their team.
If Nathan MacKinnon were playing on a Canadian team, or in any bigger NHL market, people would be losing their minds over him. He’s running away with the Calder this year, and I personally can’t wait to see how much better he can get in the coming years (which, freakishly enough, is probably a ton).
They’re also way ahead of schedule, and will be back in the playoffs for the first time since their short cameo in ’09-’10.
Here are the things that should worry the Colorado Avalanche and their fans:
The way they’ve managed to succeed this season isn’t a recipe for future success. But even if it were, it wouldn’t matter, because they appear to be on a collision course with the Chicago Blackhawks who will absolutely eviscerate them in the 1st round come playoffs.
One of the many reasons that’ll happen is because of their paper thin blueline, which includes Erik Johnson (who is kind of quietly putting things together for the first time in a while after looking like a lost cause; but may miss tonight’s game with the flu, just FYI), Jan Hejda (playing over his head, being relied upon too much, but still reliable), Tyson Barrie (who I really like, but still has lots of things to learn about playing defense at the NHL level), and then a couple of “guys“.
They have a couple of defensemen in their system that have potential who they’ve recently spent picks of value on (Duncan Siemens, Chris Bigras), but for now they’re just trying to make do and get by without being exposed too much. That can only last for so long, realistically.
Ultimately, I’d imagine that fans of the team are both a) aware of this, and b) don’t really care. The success in the present has been the cherry on top of a young, exciting team that’s worth tuning in for every night they’re playing. What a luxury that must be.
|5v5 Corsi Close %||52.0 (8th)||47.5 (26th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.19 (19th)||2.55 (5th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.16 (12th)||2.27 (17th)|
|5v5 PDO||99.9 (T-14th)||101.8 (3rd)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.93 (25th)||6.57 (9th)|
|5v4 SF/60||58.5 (4th)||49.1 (21st)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.88 (6th)||6.10 (17th)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.9 (1st)||59.0 (T-26th)|
Eddie Lack makes his 15th straight start in this one, with yet another double dip in a back-to-back scenario. By now I think we’re all familiar with what the data says about leaning on a goaltender to do that, but what’s also just as clear is that it’ll take Eddie Lack being banned from the arena for him not to start for the Canucks at this point.
Further on that subject, I recommend giving Jason Botchford’s “Provies” from last night a read. In no uncertain terms, he spills the beans on what’s going on with Jacob Markstrom, technically considered the team’s “back up goaltender”, at the moment. Rollie Melanson is deconstructing him, and fixing him to his liking, which means that for the time being Markstrom is anything but ready for NHL action.
So it’ll be Eddie Lack for better or for worse until they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, which could still be delayed a while longer if they continue to win games. For that to happen it’ll require Lack to continue putting together performances such as the one submitted in Minnesota.