Taking on the Predators in the first round is a tall order for this young Avalanche team.
The Predators lost a tough fought Cup finals to the Penguins last year and are hungry. They have been the best team in the NHL wire-to-wire. They have the President’s Trophy with 117 points, they have the sixth best Goals Against Average netminder in Pekka Rinne (.927 SV%). There are established stars in PK Subban, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen. Their Coach Peter Laviolette will be making his 10th playoff appearance. He’s been to three Cup Finals, winning one with Carolina in 2006.
Crazy things happen in the NHL playoffs. If you are in, you are in the hunt. A hot goalie can carry a team to a Cup (Ducks). Teams can gain an identity in the Playoffs and ride that identity to a championship (Devils). Almost anything can and does happen.
Historically, the Avalanche were the frontrunner. They had the pedigree, they had the money, they did as they pleased. This Avalanche team isn’t ordained. There aren’t Hall-of-Fame players at every position.
They have built to this, scrapped for it. Endured the barbs of last season. More importantly, they’ve survived an indifferent fan base.
I went to the Phoenix game a few days back. It was live and energetic and crazy in the Pepsi Center.
Give these young men credit, they’ve earned that.
Maybe they’re not done.