The Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators are currently locked in a pulsating NHL playoff battle, with the Preds currently leading the series 2-1. The teams meet again in Denver this week, where the Avs will be looking to keep up the trend of victories for the home team and that would lead to a tied series with three to play. The Predators are the number one overall seed out of the entire NHL, while the Avs are stone last at number 16, but can they really spring a surprise and knock out many people’s playoff favorites?
It’s hard to say anything other than the Predators have been very lucky so far to be leading the series. Colorado have dominated more periods than they have lost over the three games, and they have a lot to be upbeat about. An agonizing loss due to a poor final period in game one was followed up by a game two where they beat themselves pretty much, and the Predators left home with a 2-0 lead much to the annoyance of the Avalanche organization.
The Avs began to put things right in Denver on Monday night, dominating the early parts of the game and chasing net minder Pekka Rinne from the game. The Avs continued their trend of starting well, and with the Pepsi Center crowd behind them, there was no coming back from the Predators in this one. Early goals have set the tempo in this series so far, but in the third game, after gaining the momentum the Avs never gave it up. From highly paid stars like Nathan MacKinnon, to the veteran leaders on the team like Blake Comeau, everyone came to play for the Avs and it showed.
This is no longer a series where many are writing the 16th seed off - this is a battle between two teams with different styles, and right now it is a coin toss as to who comes out on top. At sportsbet.io you will find the latest NHL betting odds and the Avs will be fancied by many to win game four. Should they manage to do that, watch out for their odds to win the series taking a huge tumble, and it would be nothing more than they deserved.
Game five would mean the series heads back to Nashville, where the Predators will be favorites but the Avalanche can take a lot of heart from the way they performed in the first two games, and certainly won’t fear the trip. The odds will always favor the Predators as they are the number one seed and have home ice advantage, but the Avs are on a roll right now and they can do more than just compete here.
What do The Avs Need to Win Game Four?
A series win will look a long way away if the Avs don’t win game four, that is another huge game and one they must win. The simple answer to what they need is that they need to play with the same levels of energy and intensity as they did in game three, and the rest will take care of itself. The speed that the Avalanche have played with so far has been too much for Nashville to handle, there is no reason to think they can’t keep it up, and if they do then they will win game four.
The big question mark hanging over Nashville in game four will be who starts in goal. Pekka Rinne was far from at his best in the first two games, especially game two and he was then pulled out of game three after conceding four goals. He was replaced by Juuse Saros, who came in and had a very good game, saving all 18 shots he faced in just over half of the game. It will be interesting to see who wins the battle between these two to start in game four, Rinne is the man the Predators often turn to because he is their number one, but Saros hasn’t put a foot wrong recently.
Whoever does start in goal will need to stop some shots early on. The success Colorado have had in the first three games has all been sparked by early goals. They scored on their very first shot in both the first and second games of the series, while they scored on their second shot of the game in the third. If that trend continues throughout this series, there is a big chance that it will hurt the Predators so much that they could lose the series.
Can The Avs Really Take the Series?
Right now the Avs fans out there probably think they are living in a dream, but this is real life and their team looks capable of pulling off what would be the biggest shock of the first round. They have played very well in their opening three games, but they have only won one of those three games. They were unlucky but the bottom line is they still trail this series 2-1. The first step for them has to be to win game four. That would then make the series a three-game one where they would need to win two of the next three. With two of those games being in Nashville, that means the Avs have to win a game on the road, but they should feel confident about doing that, because they have dominated periods of two games in Nashville so far.
While many people doubted the Avs going into the playoffs, few are doubting them now and those that have seen the first three games of this series would not be surprised to see the Avs come out on top. There is a long way to go but Avs fans should be very optimistic right now; they have a lot to look forward to with this young team, but their first playoff success may not be too far away based on what we have seen so far.