Ready for some more playoff hockey?
Only 24 hours after the Colorado Avalanche came away with an exciting 3-2 victory in a tightly contested Game Two, the Avalanche have an opportunity to increase their series lead over the Coyotes on Saturday. A win on Saturday would help the Avs claim a 3-0 series lead, and create a situation where the Coyotes could be facing elimination in Game Four on Monday, August 17 at 3:30 p.m. MDT.
However, if Game Two taught us anything, the Coyotes will more than likely be ready to give it their all to possibly avoid this situation. So far in this series, we have seen two completely different Coyote teams — one who allowed the Avalanche to completely establish their style of play and dominate all aspects fo the game, and one gritty and in your face style. We suspect that the Avs will see more of the same from the Coyotes, so don’t be surprised if this game ends up being a close one again.
Joonas Donskoi and Vladislav Namestnikov are considered day-to-day by Avs head coach Jared Bednar, so it will be interesting to see what the lineup will look like for Game Three. If one of these players are not able to return to the lineup tomorrow, one of the main players who could make an appearance would be former DU Pioneer and Colorado Eagles standpoint Logan O’Connor — however, time will tell.
Starting in goal the past two games, it will be interesting to see if the Avs continue with the hot hand and keep Philipp Grubauer in net, or if we may see Avs goaltender Pavel Francouz make his official postseason debut (minus round-robin) in Game Three against the Coyotes. Francouz last played in the Avs round-robin series when the Avs shutout the Dallas Stars 4-0.
Players to watch
With one game-winning goal and assist, Avs forward Nazem Kadri continues to be a difference-maker for the Avalanche in the playoffs. Kadri tallied four points (One goal, three assists) in the round-robin series and has continued to prove that he can be a difference-maker in the playoffs for the Avalanche. After being suspended the past two playoffs with the Toronto Maple Leafs, questions were circling about how he would perform with the Avs in the playoffs. So far, he continues to be one of the best Avalanche forwards. It truly seems like he is playing with a chip on his shoulder and is on a mission to prove critics wrong — which is good for the Avalanche.
While I felt like I could pick a few Coyotes who could be a difference-maker in Game Three, I eventually kept circling back to speed Coyotes forward and penalty-killing specialist Michael Grabner. While there was some controversy in regards to his goal in Game Two, Grabner was able to help the Coyotes tally their first real goal against the Avalanche — since the first goal was an unfortunate own goal. If Keller and Phil Kessel are unable to get things going right away for the Coyotes, keep an eye on Grabner.