Scouting the Avalanche

  • Updated: April 16, 2014 - 10:49 PM

Colorado Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog

key players

Nathan MacKinnon ‚

The dynamic, lightning-fast forward has a shot that explodes off his stick and is Colorado’s most formidable forward, especially with Matt Duchene injured. The guaranteed Calder Trophy winner led all rookies in scoring with 63 points and only got better and better late in the second half of the season. A year ago, the budding star was leading Halifax to a Memorial Cup as a 17-year-old. He won’t be intimidated by his first NHL playoff.

Semyon Varlamov

It seems to be Varlamov’s year. His stability in net enabled the Avalanche to play a high-octane brand of hockey. He was outshot most nights yet broke Patrick Roy’s single-season franchise record with 41 victories. This came one year after he led the NHL in losses in the lockout-shortened season. He also has 19 games of playoff experience from his younger days in Washington.

ø Gabriel Landeskog

The youngest captain in the NHL at age 21, he’s a terrific two-way forward. He was second on the team with 65 points, scored 26 goals and was a team-best plus-21. He has wheels, he can check, he can create plays and he has an outstanding shot. He also has been a constant threat anytime he faces the Wild.

must step up

ø Erik Johnson

At 26, Johnson has had his best NHL season and now will take part in his first postseason. The 2006 first overall draft pick, former Gopher and native of Bloomington will see a lot of ice time and likely be on the ice every time the Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line hops the boards. Not only is he physical, he has been an offensive threat all season, lugging the puck up ice and using his big shot.

breaking it down

Offense

With five 20-goal scorers and 10 players in double figures in goals, this team is balanced, fast and skilled. Duchene, the Avs’ leading scorer with 70 points, is expected to miss the start of the series, but if he returns at some point, it’ll only make them more daunting. The Avs ranked fourth in goals for (2.99 goals per game) and can come at you in waves. They play an aggressive style and try to force opponents into mistakes. Their defensemen jump into the attack nearly every rush. Besides MacKinnon, Duchene and Landeskog, Colorado also has leading goal scorer Ryan O’Reilly (28 goals, two penalty minutes), P.A. Parenteau (14 goals) and Jamie McGinn (19 goals).

Defense

This is the area in which at some point, one has to think some team will take advantage of Colorado’s young, inexperienced blue line. Only Andre Benoit (five games) and banged-up Jan Hejda (three games) have playoff experience. Besides Johnson, the Avs’ best offensive defenseman has been Tyson Barrie (13 goals, 38 points), who continues to get better but also might be banged-up. The Avs ranked 15th in goals against (2.63) and 25th in shots against (32.7 per game).

Goaltending

Varlamov obviously will be ridden hard, but if the Avs run into trouble, their backup is an old foe of the Wild, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who held Minnesota to one goal in Anaheim’s four-game sweep in the 2003 Western Conference finals. Varlamov, a likely Vezina Trophy finalist, ranked third in the NHL with a .927 save percentage and posted a 2.41 goals-against average.

Coaching

In his first season behind Colorado’s bench, Roy won 52 games, matching the franchise record. He and goalie coach Francois Allaire have done a terrific job with Varlamov, and when you talk to players like Johnson, they say he wiped the slate clean from the Joe Sacco days. There was a breath of fresh air and confidence that ran through Colorado’s dressing room. Oh, and he’s fiery, so don’t be surprised if there’s a couple of barking matches with refs and the Wild bench.

Special teams

Colorado’s fast, aggressive style draws a lot of penalties and it usually makes teams pay with its power play. The Avs had the fifth-best power play in the NHL (19.8 percent), not only because of their firepower up front, but because they do a fantastic job of getting pucks through from the blue line. Like the Wild, they can be exposed on the penalty kill. They ranked 24th, killing only 80.7 percent of opposing power plays.

by the numbers

37-3-5 The Avs’ record when scoring first

35-0-3 The Avs’ record hen leading after two periods

35-7-4 The Avs’ record when outshot by opponent

projected lineup

Forward lines

Ryan O’Reilly-Nathan MacKinnon-P.A. Parenteau

Gabriel Landeskog-Paul Stastny-Jamie McGinn

Max Talbot-Marc-Andre Cliché-Cody McLeod

Patrick Bordeleau-Brad Malone-Paul Carey

Defense pairings

Jan Hejda-Erik Johnson

Tyson Barrie-Nate Guenin

Andre Benoit- Nick Holden

Goaltenders

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Reto Berra

Extra defensemen: Cory Sarich, Stefan Elliott, Ryan Wilson.

Injuries: C Matt Duchene (knee) and C John Mitchell (concussion) might return during the series. Hejda (hand) is day-to-day. LW Alex Tanguay (hip) is out.





  • related content

  • Wild pins playoff hopes on Bryzgalov

    Thursday April 17, 2014

    Labeled eccentric and divisive in the past, Ilya Bryzgalov has been rock-solid for the Wild leading up to the playoffs.

  • Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Toronto
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Colgate
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Drexel
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Fordham
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
LSU
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Marquette
Binghamton 6:00 PM
UMBC
American Univ 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Richmond
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Longwood
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oklahoma
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Memphis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Lafayette
Fordham 6:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close