Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators
With only four unique champions in the past six seasons, there are a lot of contending teams that have come up empty time and time again and are increasingly under pressure to make a mark as their windows get closer and closer to closing.
The Colorado Avalanche are young enough that they've got a few years left in the tank, but with big contracts looming over the horizon, it seems as though every crack they get at making a deep run is their best chance. It was pretty much assured from the word "go" that the Avs would make the postseason, which means that they proved little this regular season. All that matters is getting to at least the conference finals if not winning it all.
Things are a little different for the Nashville Predators. After the Preds sold long-time defensive star Ryan Ellis in the offseason, it seemed almost as though 72-year-old general manager David Poile had finally thrown in the towel and recognized that this wasn't a team worth keeping together. They were widely considered unlikely to make the playoffs, and relied upon star turns from Roman Josi and Juuse Saros to get them there. As they stumbled into the final seed in the wild card on the final day of the season, however, their chances at making a cinderella run took a major hit with Saros spraining his ankle. Can they still put up a fight against the juggernaut Avs?
My playoff previews are stats-based, going off of both macro- and micro-level statistics gathered by TopDownHockey and AllThreeZones respectively. This allows us to look not only at high-level results (like goals, shots, and expected goals) but also at the stylistic process that creates them (like passes, shot types, and transition play) to get a better sense of how the teams match up. Instead of comparing offence to offence and defence to defence, I'll be breaking down the offence vs. defence matchups.
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