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Kevin Goff The Hockey Writers

Published on Friday, March 4, 2016





Colorado Avalanche Must Take Advantage of Late Schedule

The Colorado Avalanche are right on the cusp of the playoffs. As of today, the Avalanche are tied in points with the Minnesota Wild for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, Minnesota has the current tie-breaker with one game in hand on the Avalanche. There are 16 games remaining on the schedule for the Colorado Avalanche, who must take advantage of their late schedule in order to earn a playoff spot.

A Nice Rhythm

The Avalanche have had a very interesting schedule, much of the season. They have gone through several stretches of games where it seems that they are either playing four games in six nights, or two games in seven nights. There has been very little rhythm to the schedule, but March and April will see the Avalanche playing basically every other night the rest of the way. Even better, the Avalanche only see one more back-to-back scenario at the end of March.

Players like the easy rhythm of playing every other day because their body has enough time to recover without tightening up, but they also aren’t playing so frequently that they are just exhausted. It’s not surprising that teams can end up playing their best hockey through stretches like this, and the Avalanche will need to do that to get into the playoffs.

An Even Distribution

Of the 16 remaining games on the Avalanche schedule, the Avalanche will split evenly between time at home and time on the road. This is good for the Avalanche who have been a much better team on the road than at home this season. There has been a certain amount of focus and consistency that has shown up for the Avalanche when on the road that has been sporadic, at best, when on home ice. Keeping a nice balance of games away from the Pepsi Center should actually be helpful to the Avalanche as they look at gain all the points they possibly can to assure a playoff spot.

While having a certain amount of road games is definitely a positive for the Avalanche, there is no doubt that the Avalanche absolutely have to do a better job winning games on home ice. This has been a story going back to the beginning of the season, when the Avalanche simply couldn’t win a game on home ice, leading to their bad start out of the gates. If the Avalanche are to make the playoffs, the must take care of business on their home ice, period.

Opponent Quality

This is the NHL, which means that any team is capable of beating any other team on any given night. These are professional athletes that are very proud on every part of the ice and all of them want to win. That being said, There are several “should win” games for the Avalanche coming through the final stretch of the season. The Avalanche have games against Arizona, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Philadelphia and Vancouver in the very near future.

Now I’m not trying to talk down on these teams by any stretch of the imagination, but if we’re looking at each team objectively than we can say that the Avalanche really should beat these teams, especially if they are going to make the playoffs. Wins against these teams will give 12 crucial points to the standings and send messages to teams near the Avalanche in the standings that they aren’t going to be the team to falter, increasing the pressure on them to win their remaining games.

The Avalanche also play several divisional games down the stretch. Eight of the final 16 games are divisional games, and the Avalanche have done very well throughout the season in divisional games, currently 12-6-2. Some of these games won’t mean much for positioning, the Avalanche won’t be catching the Stars or the Blues in the standings, but it’s imperative to come out with points in all of them, especially against Minnesota, whom the Avalanche simply cannot get out of their own way against.

There are six games on the schedule for the Avalanche against teams significantly ahead of them in the standings, with three of them coming in the last handful of games. This could make a difference in favor of the Avalanche if teams like Dallas and Anaheim have already shored up their spots in the standings. They may decide to rest several players, which could benefit an Avalanche team who will be throwing their best lineup out there every single night no matter what. Additionally, the Avalanche have performed very well throughout the season against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. The wins haven’t always been pretty, but it’s not like the Avalanche are going to give back points because it wasn’t a stylish win.

The Avalanche hold their playoff destiny in their own hands and have a schedule that presents them a favorable opportunity to squeeze in. Right now it’s up to them to get the job done, treat every team as if they are the ones that are going to prevent them from getting into the playoffs, and take care of business. If the Avalanche get hot and roll off several wins down the stretch, nobody is going to want to play this team come playoff time. This is where we will find out what this team is made of.


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