Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice that his lineup decisions for Sunday’s contest against the Minnesota Wild will be based at least partially on how things shake out tonight.
“We’ll watch the game tonight and we’ll go from there,” commented Quenneville.
The game that Quenneville is referring to would be tonight’s contest between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.
If the Flames lose to the Canucks on Saturday evening, the Avs will go into Sunday’s contest assured of keeping the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The same can be said if the Flames earn only one point against the Canucks – which would give both of the teams 93 points – because the Avs would own a tie-breaker based on having more wins.
With a Calgary win on Saturday, Colorado would need at least one point on Sunday in order to finish ahead of the Flames in the standings.
Essentially, when the Avalanche takes to the ice Sunday afternoon against Minnesota, the team may already know its opponent for the first round of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Either way, the club will know exactly what it needs to do to hold onto the No. 6 seed, leading to an opening round series against the Wild.
The Avs can fall no lower than the No. 7 seed, which would set up a series with the San Jose Sharks.
“We still have a lot to play for, including playoff seeding,” said Avalanche center Tyler Arnason. “You don’t really want to look too far ahead, but it can also help with having home-ice advantage down the road. The higher up you can get (in the standings) the better off you’ll be.”
Quenneville also touched briefly on potential first-round playoff matchups for the Avalanche
“One team is the hottest team in the league and the other team has been pretty good against us this year,” Quenneville said of San Jose and Minnesota, respectively.
Keeping Sharp While the Avalanche last played on Tuesday (April 1) in Vancouver and may not play again until Wednesday (depending on the playoff schedule) the team isn’t worried about not being sharp to begin the postseason.
If indeed the Avs open the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, they will have played only one game in the previous seven days.
The general consensus around the locker room is that the extra time to rest and fine-tune a few things is a problem the team was happy to have.
“I think at this time of the year it’s just part of the process,” said defenseman Scott Hannan. “It’s good to get some rest and have some good practices before the playoffs. We’ll be stepping in with lots of energy.”