Avalanche Game Day: Time To Get To Work
Forget all the talk and speculation. The time is now for the 2021-22 Colorado Avalanche. This club has very lofty goals, but there's a lot of work left to do and it all starts tonight.
The Avs begins the 2021-22 regular season tonight at home against the new-look Chicago Blackhawks. Because of Covid, this is the first time these two clubs get together since 2019. It should be a good one.
Colorado starts their season at home for a fourth straight year. Starting at home has become a bit of a tradition with this team. The Avs have played 15 of their last 19 season openers in front of the hometown fans.
Tonight's game marks the first of four contests against these two clubs. They won't meet again until January where they'll play three more times to close out the series.
The game will be televised on TNT and unfortunately, most of you won't be able to see it. For the fans' sake, I hope Colorado gets their TV situation sorted out pronto.
This is a big night for the Blackhawks too. Captain Jonathan Toews is playing for the first time since August of 2020. He missed all of last season with an autoimmune disorder. I expect his presence alone to provide a massive boost to his team.
The Hawks finished last season with a 24-25-7. That was good enough for sixth in the Central Division. But, they fully expect to turn a corner this season and push for a playoff spot.
They had a very busy summer for sure. Chicago added six new pieces that have dramatically altered the look of the team. The biggest additions have to be Tyler Johnson, Seth Jones, and of course Marc-Andre Fleury.
This should be a very good opening night test for the Avs.
Things to consider:
- Nathan Mackinnon and head coach Jared Bednar will both sit this one out on the Covid protocol list. Most teams might be slowed by losing their best player, but not the Avs. Expect Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, and the like to pick up their play I don't this team will miss a beat.
- Colorado has a lot of faith in Darcy Kuemper. They believe he is a true number one goalie. Despite the team's confidence, it will be an interesting test for the former 'Yotes netminder.
He faced a lot of shots in Arizona and some goalies feed off of the extra work. Kuemper seems like that type of goalie. He won't get nearly as much work with the caliber of defenseman in front of him. Is he up to the challenge?
- How will the new guys look? Sakic and company have done an excellent job of mixing in some new blood and veteran blood. They addressed a lack of size and toughness on the backend and added some grit to the bottom six forwards.
There is no doubt the goal was to build a team that will be playoff-ready. This season should be less about the regular season and more about postseason success.
Colorado wants another banner and it's probably not another one of these...
- General Manager Joe Sakic could not have been more clear with his messaging,
"Our goal is to try and win a Stanley Cup..."
That mission begins tonight.
Avs expected lines:
92 91 96
13 37 95
18 17 (75)
43 25 56
Thanks for reading,