Preview: Colorado Avalanche healthy, ready for Game 1

Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche begin their quest for a Stanley Cup in a first-round matchup with the Nashville Predators. Nashville won the regular-season series, but the Avalanche didn’t have a completely healthy lineup in their losses. That has changed, and Colorado will start with a perfectly healthy arsenal of some of the NHL’s best players.

Colorado Avalanche

Since the first game of the regular season, the Avalanche have been trying to win the trophy. Now that a record-breaking regular season is over, Colorado has its eye on an always elusive prize. To get over the hump and earn a shot at winning the cup, you start by beating a team with a familiar face and a rowdy arena.

Health is critical as you head into the busiest part of a championship season, and the Avalanche have just that. We’ll see the return of Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and the resurgence of an incredibly dangerous top-six. Keep an eye on Valeri Nichushkin, who will remain at the top with Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. He’s my (not so dark) dark horse going into the playoffs.

We all know Nathan MacKinnon is a playoff production master, but I expect attention will be focused on how Cale Makar impacts each game. The 23-year-old is in his third playoff and should be more comfortable on the big stage than ever.

Planned lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog – Nazem Kadri – Artturi Lehkonen
Andre Burakovsky – JT Compher – Alex Newhook
Andrew Cogliano, Nico Sturm, Darren Helm

Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Samuel Girard—Josh Manson
Bowen Byram—Erik Johnson

Nashville predators

The Predators can score and are an excellent power play team. Former Avalanche Matt Duchene has had a knack for scoring big against Colorado this season, so keep an eye on him and Av killer Filip Forsberg. You must rely on both of these qualities to steal victory from Colorado.

The most important and unfortunate piece of news for Nashville heading into this series is the status of their starting goalie, Juuse Saros. Saros will miss the first two games of the series with an undisclosed lower body injury he sustained in a matchup with the Flames last week. It will be David Rittich or Connor Ingram between the whistles for Nashville and although they are capable goalkeepers they are both a significant step behind from Juuse Saros.

Planned lineup:

Filip Forsberg, Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene
Eeli Tolvanen – Ryan Johansen – Philip Tomasino
Tanner Jeannot – Colton Sissons – Yakov Trenin
Nick Cousins ​​- Michael McCarron – Luke Kunin

Roman Josi – Dante Fabro
Mattias EkholmAlexandre Carrier
Mark Borowiecki – Matt Benning

goalkeeper

Colorado will start Darcy Kuemper in game one tonight. Darcy wants to cement his reputation as a playoff player, and his skills will be critical to Colorado’s playoff success. Kuemper played his best hockey when it mattered most to Colorado during the regular season. This time around, Colorado needs its best players to have their best games at the best times. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue to manifest itself.

The Predators’ starting goalie will likely be David Rittich. Rittich brings experience to the table that Ingram just can’t. Rittich competed in seventeen competitions during the regular season and made a postseason appearance in last year’s tournament. He needs to be good against the high-flying Avalanche to give his team a chance.

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