The Avs put the finishing touches on their practice today, in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
If it feels like forever since you’ve watched Avalanche hockey, you’re right. Because of a quirk in the schedule, the Avs last played on March 30 in Calgary (4-1 win), while the rest of the competition caught up in games played.
As it stands, the Avalanche sits in 10th place with 88 points, Dallas in ninth with 89, and San Jose in eighth with 92.
The Coyotes sit in seventh with 93 points, one more than the maximum the Avs can earn if they win their last two games. Therefore, the Avs can only get as high as eighth place after all is said and done.
What will it take for the Avs to grab the eighth and final playoff spot in the West?
Simply put, the Avs will have to win their final two games in regulation or overtime, San Jose will have to lose its last two in regulation, and Dallas can only earn two points over its final two games.
The Avs take on Columbus tomorrow and Nashville on Saturday, both games being played at Pepsi Center.
The Blue Jackets put 54 shots on net last night but Coyotes netminder Mike Smith turned aside each one, increasing his shutout streak to 219 minutes, 59 seconds. Despite the loss, Columbus has won three of its last four contests and is playing its best hockey down the stretch.
Nashville is, well, Nashville. The Preds are a tough team with a goaltender (Pekka Rinne) who has the ability to steal games.
If the Avs win these games in regulation or overtime, their job is done. Here’s what they will need from other teams:
The Sharks came out of Dallas last night with a huge regulation victory, increasing their lead to three points over the ninth-place Stars.
San Jose will now close out the regular against the Los Angeles Kings in a home-and-home series. Colorado needs San Jose to lose both in regulation because the Sharks currently have the maximum amount of points the Avs can earn (92); if the Sharks get to 93, the Avs are eliminated from a playoff berth. But because of the first tiebreaker (ROW – regulation and overtime wins combined), the Avs can move into eighth despite having the same amount of points as the Sharks. Why? If the Avs win their final two games in regulation or overtime, their final ROW will be 34. The Sharks would finish the season with 33, thus giving the Avs eighth place.
The Stars play in Nashville on Thursday and at home against St. Louis on Saturday.
In order for the Avs to make it to the postseason, Dallas can go 1-1-0, 0-0-2, or 0-2-0 (combined with SJ going 0-2-0). Two out of a possible four points would give them 91 points, which is key, because they’ve already clinched the ROW tiebreaker over the Avs (35; the most the Avs can get is 34).
Keep this in mind: Despite already having clinched a playoff spot, the Predators hold the fourth spot with 100 points. The Red Wings sit in fifth with 99, and have played one less game than Nashville. As we’ve seen throughout the years, home-ice advantage is a huge plus in the postseason, so the Preds will have something to play for in their last two games. The Blues are chasing the top spot in the West (currently held by Vancouver), so they also have something to play for.
If the Coyotes can earn at least a point in tomorrow’s game at St. Louis, the pressure falls on the Kings to earn points in their home-and-home series against the Sharks; a plus for the Avs. Third place is up for grabs, and you can believe the Kings will do everything they can to secure that spot.
Are the odds stacked against the Avs? Sure. But anything can happen in this game. If the Avs take care of business in these last two games, get some help from the Kings, and have Dallas earn two out of four possible points, a playoff berth awaits.