The Colorado Avalanche roster has seen better days. With season ending injuries to goalie Semyon Varlamov, and defenceman Erik Johnson; the Avs’ playoff hopes now rest on the young shoulders of Nathan Mackinnon and slighty less young Jonathan Bernier. This has some Avs fans in a panic:
Great. Awesome. It's over https://t.co/pcsJ4JBbha
— Carl Landra (@CarlLandra) March 31, 2018
Is it over, Carl? Is it?
With just a handful of games left in the regular season, the Avs are still in the fight for the playoffs, but only just. Colorado, St. Louis and Anaheim are separated by just a few points and the difference between a chance at the cup and an early round of golf is thinner than Sidney Crosby‘s playoff beard. With Varlamov out for the rest of the season, goaltending duties fall on Bernier, the former Kings, Leafs and Ducks twinester has played in 33 games already this season, and has similar statistics to Varlamov. The Russian does have the slight edge on his Canadian counterpart. Here’s how the pair stack up this season:
There’s no doubt that Varlamov is the stronger goalie, but Bernier is a serviceable back-up. Unfortunately for the Avs, both goalies benefitted from playing behind Erik Johnson who’s out with knee-knack for six or so weeks. EJ is the team’s leading defensive goalscorer and has been the only shining light in an otherwise unremarkable D-corps.
Losing Varlamov and EJ is no doubt a blow to Colorado’s playoff hopes, but the chances of the Avs progressing through to the finals are slim anyway. As it stands today, the Avs will make the playoffs but will face last season’s finalists, the Nashville Predators. In the four games played so far this season between the two teams, the Preds have won all four. If the Avs are able to leapfrog the LA Kings in tonight’s game then they’ll like face the Vegas Golden Knights. Colorado lost two of their three meetings with Vegas this season and I don’t hold much hope for the boys from Denver in a best of seven series.
There are three games left in the Avalanche’s regular season campaign, Los Angeles tonight, San Jose on Thursday and St. Louis on Saturday. All three games have the potential to derail the team’s playoff hopes, especially the Avs fell to the Ducks in overtime last night. Whether or not the Avs go the distance, or even make the playoffs, the loss of Varlamov and EJ isn’t going to be deal-breaker at this stage as it’s unlikely that the team will progress past the first round anyway regardless of who’s on the ice. The Avs faithful shouldn’t despair as overall this has been a pretty decent season for their team.