Five things to watch when Avalanche faces Lightning – The Denver Post

Toews and Makar. Colorado’s top two players are Blue Line partners Devon Toews and Cale Makar because they’re the skaters who play the most. Makar posted a game high of 28:50 in Game 1 and Toews was second at 25:35. The Avs duo were beaten on the Lightning’s second goal but were otherwise fantastic. However, they only produced one shot between them and all of Makar’s seven attempts were blocked or missed the target.

“They’re very good at blocking shots,” Makar said of Tampa defenders. “I still felt like we were creating something… even when they block shots, our forwards do a good job of getting those back. For us, it’s just trying to get past that second layer.”

Kümper Vs. Wassiljewskij. The goalie game favors Tampa Bay, but it was generally a tie in Game 1. The Avs’ Darcy Kuemper had just 23 shots and stopped 20 of the (.870). The Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 38 (.895).

Kuemper is again the likely starter for Game 2. “I thought he did a good job for us (in Game 1),” Jared Bednar said of Kuemper on Friday. “On the goals that we gave up, we had big glitches in front of him. Could he have made one up? Yes, perhaps. But considering he hasn’t played since (May 31) I thought he did a really good job for us. He has looked good in training and has a lot of confidence.”

MacKinnon on the trail. The Lightning was able to see Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon up close in Game 1. In a 22:06 season, he had one assist and five shots on goal. Could Tampa Bay try to counter with Anthony Cirelli more often?

“[MacKinnon]has the speed and he’s a big guy, so he protects the puck really well and he could hit you a lot of ways,” Cirelli said. “I think it’s a good thing to be aware of where he is on the ice and as a group just try to slow them down. But they’re coming at you at a lot of speed.”

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