Stanley Cup Playoffs scratched players Colorado Avalanche Newhook

The Colorado Avalanche is almost in good health going into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But even then, there are still a few notable players who sat out the entire first round against the Nashville Predators.

The Avs lineup stayed mostly the same throughout the first round, with the exception of Andrew Cogliano and Darcy Kuemper’s injuries. With that, the Avs ran against the Preds:

Forward

Valeri Nichushkin (13) – Nathan MacKinnon (29) – Mikko Rantanen (96)

Gabriel Landeskog (92) – Nazem Kadri (91) – Artturi Lehkonen (62)

Andre Burakovsky (95) – JT Compher (37) – Nicolas Aube-Kubel (16)

Darren Helm (43) – Nico Sturm (78) – Logan O’Connor (25)/Andrew Cogliano (11)

defender

Devon Toews (7) – Cale Makar (8)

Samuel Girard (49) – Josh Manson (42)

Bowen Byram (4) – Erik Johnson (6)

goalkeeper

Darcy Kümper (35)

Pavel Francouz (39) / Justus Annunen (60)

Jared Bednar kept the same regular guys in the lineup in the first round, which was a good thing. With that in mind, a few notable names from the regular season were left out of the lineup for the first four games.

scratch

Alex Newhook (18), Jack Johnson (3), Ryan Murray (28), Kurtis MacDermid (56), Hunter Miska (32)

They could easily make the case for every guy getting into the lineup (except probably Miska) and what they can bring to the ice every night. For a man like Murray, who has struggled with injuries all year, it will be difficult for him to find ice time in the postseason, barring injuries to the regular six defenders.

MacDermid, who you can argue for based on his physical presence on the ice alone. There was debate as to whether or not to throw at #56 in Game 4 to keep the Preds from getting too silly, but ultimately it didn’t happen. Outside of the physical game, MacDermid doesn’t bring enough power offensively or defensive skills. He’s not working in the system the Avs have this postseason and will struggle to get into the lineup like Murray.

However, the last two on the list would be the easy contenders to be included in the lineup based on their game. Johnson, a tenured, gray-haired veteran, could probably jump into the lineup for the sake of his same last name. JJ can play a game similar to The Condor, but not with the same speed and skill that EJ can currently. Having been on the Avs team for over a decade, the No. 6 earns his ice age over a player who was only allowed to wear the “A” this season and ultimately does it better than JJ.

Now comes the most interesting scratch of the first round: Newhook. Avs fans were eagerly awaiting to see the lines Bednar would run in Game 1 and were certainly surprised to see Newy staying off the ice. Me included, Avs fans scratched their heads at the choice since Newhook was a regular at the Avs. Here’s what Bednar had to say about his choice.

In 71 games that year, Newhook had 13 goals and 20 assists, mostly from the third row. While those numbers aren’t spectacular, you should think that it should earn him a place on the playoff list. The team had other ideas, and whether or not it was just for a better matchup against the Predators will be decided once Round 2 begins.

Looking at the lineup above, it’s difficult to place Newhook anywhere. The best place for NAK would be on the right wing in the third row. You could then theoretically press NAK on the fourth line for Helm or even Cogliano. The point is that there are multiple combos to work with, including multiple guys who come in and out every night.

We saw this type of rotation style towards the end of the regular season, which included the rotation of Newhook and Aube-Kubel, among others. But you have to imagine that this is frustrating for No. 18. He was visibly upset when he was sent to the Colorado Eagles after the October season opener before later returning to the Avs. He might, and rightly so, feel the same feelings after being left out of the playoff roster. It could eventually become a gamble as he ponders his future with the team and perhaps looks elsewhere for more Ice Age in the postseason.

With the amount of rotation and depth the Avs have, could it be a bad thing? Of course, it’s great to have depth and resources available if/when a player goes down. But it could be frustrating for those who miss Ice Age. If so, so be it. Hopefully every member of the Avs can have a mindset similar to Burakovsky’s when he said this before Game 4.

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