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Avalanche Roster Features Playoff Experience

Burakovsky, Donskoi among players with postseason knowledge

by Kate Reed / ColoradoAvalanche.com

After the 2018-19 campaign, the Colorado Avalanche made adding roster depth a priority. Now, the players that joined the Avs have a chance to bring their postseason experience to this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri, Vladislav Namestnikov and Valeri Nichushkin were all added to the squad before or during the 2019-20 season, and they have a collective 21 appearances (202 games) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Burakovsky, who is set to play in his sixth consecutive playoff run, noted that a key to the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup victory in 2018 was having team chemistry both on and off the ice, a similarity he sees with this Avs squad.

"Everyone was super close to each other, and I feel like we have the same chemistry on this team," he said. "When I look back, I think we have more depth in this team, in Colorado right now, than we did when we won the Stanley Cup with Washington. I think just what I said about having chemistry on and off the ice is a big key. If everyone comes together as one unit, I mean that's going to take us a long way."

Donskoi has also played in the Stanley Cup Final with the San Jose Sharks in 2016 ,and he is set to appear in his fifth consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs and first with the Avalanche.

"I think we have more depth here now," the right wing said of the Avs compared to the teams he was on with the Sharks organization. "I think I've said this before already, but I feel like this team, this year, is the best team I've ever played for. Tons and tons of offensive skill, like I said, four, even five good, good lines who can all play good offensive hockey, so I would say that's one difference."

Matt Nieto, who has spent the past three and a half seasons with Colorado and made it to the second round of the playoffs with the team last season, was also a member of the 2016 Sharks team with Donskoi that made it to the Stanley Cup Final. 

"Obviously, getting to the Stanley Cup Final is something special," he noted. "I think the last couple of years, having young guys on our team get experience in playoffs and, you know, last year winning a round, all of that plays a huge factor in guys knowing what it takes to make a deeper run. So, yeah, we've got a lot of experience now in this locker room and, you know, we're going to rely heavy on that and the young guys know just as much as us what it's going to take to get there."

Bellemare, who signed with the Avs as a free agent last summer, reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018 and also commented on the importance of Colorado's four strong lines.

"I mean [having four solid lines is] the key," he said. "I think if you look at the previous winners of the Stanley Cup Final, there's nobody that won with a two-line team or a three-line team. Nowadays, hockey in 2020, you have to have four lines to be able to keep the momentum, to create or to be able to play a good checking line, so it's vital. You won't go far if you don't have four lines that have momentum."

The Avs are participating in their third straight Stanley Cup Playoffs, making it into the first round of the postseason in 2018 and the second in 2019. Colorado's ability to gain familiarity with the NHL's most competitive time of the year has been important for the team and has helped expand its comfort level in the playoffs.

The offseason acquisitions all played in last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs with their respective teams. This season, they'll look to bring that experience to the Avalanche as the club battles for the franchise's third Stanley Cup.

Colorado will begin postseason play with its first round-robin matchup of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Aug. 2 against the St. Louis Blues. 

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