Series Preview: Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues
There's only one Stanley Cup, and a whole lot of championship-calibre clubs head home disappointed every year. Contention windows pass by with little or nothing to show for it: ask the San Jose Sharks, the Nashville Predators, the Winnipeg Jets, etc.
There's a tremendous amount of pressure on the Colorado Avalanche to avoid the same fate. For all of the adulation around Nathan MacKinnon's playoff performances, he and the rest of this group have never advanced past the second round, frequently losing to squads that were less talented on paper. As the salary cap becomes more of an obstacle as RFA contracts dwindle, the window gets tighter and tighter.
Standing in their way is a St. Louis Blues team that has defied all of the odds, transforming through strong player development and keen acquisitions from a plodding, physical group to an often dynamic and creative one, making opposing goalies look awful and defying the laws of shooting percentage gravity.
Are they the right type of team to take down the Avs once again?
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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