“I would have liked to see our team in great health,” said Nathan MacKinnon, after a loss in Game 7 of the second round to the Dallas Stars, a game started by third-place goaltender Michael Hutchinson. “You can call it an excuse or whatever you like. It’s like that. We have lost key players to our team.
This spring, with a healthy roster and a divisional foe arriving in Denver after knocking out Minnesota in Game 7 just two nights before, the Avalanche wasted no time in declaring its dominance in the Where is. They are healthy and they are good.
Colorado beat the Vegas Golden Knights as completely as a team can defeat another on Sunday night, opening its Western Final in a 7-1 rout. It was a feat that was emphatically stated that the Avalanche may have run out of balls last year.
This time around, with quality players Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, they are there and they are serious.
“I love the way our team played tonight,” said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. “Right from the start, good skating, tremendous pressure from the puck, capitalizing on our chances… The front row set the tone, but our whole team was very good.
This game 1 was about “learning from the past,” Bednar continued. “We discussed the Dallas series. We wanted to make sure we were using our legs tonight and just playing with our identity. Take it up a notch in the second round. “
The rest beat the Rust in Game 1 of this series, with Colorado sitting for a week after sweeping the St. Louis Blues.
Didn’t Vegas manage to make the emotional leap of a frenzied 7 game at the start of a new series?
“We didn’t play well. They played a good game, ”said Vegas captain Mark Stone. “They came out ready to go.
The Vegas lead line of MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen scored twice in the first period, then blew a tree over at home in a four-goal second period for Colorado. Makar was a magician on the blue line with three assists and one goal.
Vegas goalie Robin Lehner surely found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when Vegs head coach Peter DeBoer gave him the start, spelling out Marc-Andre Fleury, who played every minute of the first round for Vegas.
Thank you coach.
The Avs came out, as Ilya Bryzgalov famously said: “Like gorillas coming out of a cage. “
“Listen, rest is a weapon. Especially at this time of year, ”said Landeskog. “We knew they were coming off a seven game streak with a day off, and we wanted to make sure we had a quick start. “
“Flower had just played seven games in 14 days and an emotional seventh game,” explained DeBoer, who you can bet will be returning to Fleury for Game 2 on Wednesday. “It was the perfect opportunity to use our other starter – it has been a strength of our throughout the year.
“Tonight’s game wasn’t about Robin Lehner. We didn’t play well enough in front of him.
The only play that took that from a simple rout to a dangerous game of border justice was a hard and hurtful blow from Avs defender Ryan Graves to winger Mattias Janmark, who did not return to the game. . Janmark was signed with another Colorado player and Graves took full advantage.
That the blow came with Colorado holding a 4-0 lead was gas on fire, and that fire burned throughout a third period that saw Vegas tough guy Ryan Reaves ejected with a penalty. match for Graves’ blood.
“(Graves’ move) is blind interference. We didn’t like the game and we lost a player. We’re trying to take those hits out of the game, ”said Stone, who had no problem with his team’s search for self-defense justice the rest of the evening. “Let’s be honest – you’re down 4-0 at the halfway point. It’s a long way to get out of this.
The league will be reviewing the Reaves’ play, as they do for all match penalties.
“Reaves was on a mission to hurt someone over there in the third,” Landeskog said. “And that’s what he goes out and does. “
Stay tuned. It’s hot in the west.