With the first official round of playoffs begun, the Colorado Avalanche currently hold a 1–0 lead in the series against the Arizona Coyotes. The first game, recapped by The Rink, provided insight into how the rest of this series is going to go down, as well as what the Avalanche will need to do to win this series and proceed into the next round.
Darcy Kuemper is an excellent goalie. He finished off the abbreviated 2019–20 season with a .928 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average. He also consistently proves to be difficult for the Avalanche to score on. Game One between these teams saw Kuemper make 37 saves against an aggressive Colorado team, some of which were absolute robberies, including this left pad save:
"No." – Darcy Kuemper pic.twitter.com/MGIKucccMp
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) August 12, 2020
If the Avalanche can figure Kuemper out, that should theoretically guarantee them the series. Having had one game to feel things out, we may see an adjustment on how the team approaches the net, hopefully resulting in sustained offensive pressure rather than a series of quick goals late in the game.
The key to beating Arizona is going to be patience, which the Avs displayed in Game One. They need to sustain that patience going into this game to ensure that they do not get frustrated and allow Arizona to capitalize on any mistakes.
Goalies for the back-to-back
These teams meet on Friday at 12:30 p.m. MDT and again on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. MDT. With how both goalies have been performing lately, seeing a split here would not be surprising. Pavel Francouz shut out the Stars in his first NHL postseason game last week and Philipp Grubauer shut out the Coyotes in Game One. While Grubauer is likely going to be the main starter for the Avs in the playoffs, switching goalies for the back-to-back would allow him a reprieve.
If the Avs keep up the whole-team defense we saw in Game One, the choice of goalie should matter even less. Grubauer faced only 14 shots on goal, a product of the Avs being able to keep the puck in Arizona’s end for almost the entire game.
Players to watch
The Avalanche top line is going to get firing at some point during the playoffs. We saw a glimpse of their capabilities at the end of Game One, with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen combining for a pretty goal to close out scoring in the third:
MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog are pretty good at hockey pic.twitter.com/JVOFCcPLVg
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) August 13, 2020
While the storyline of this season has been about the depth that the Avalanche have, it would be ideal to combine that depth with production from the Avs’ most skilled line.
If the Coyotes do get their offense firing, it will likely come at the hands of Clayton Keller or Oliver Ekman-Larsson, both of whom have had a consistent presence in the postseason for their team. Being shut out in the first game will see the Coyotes come into Game Two with a higher degree of competitiveness, which should make this next matchup all the more exciting to watch.
Game Two: Friday, 12 p.m. MDT
Game Three: Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT
Game Four: Monday, Aug. 17, 3:30 p.m. MDT
Game Five*: Wednesday, Aug. 19, TBD
Game Six*: Friday, Aug. 21, TBD
Game Seven*: Sunday, Aug. 23, TBD