DENVER — The transient message on social media from Colorado defenceman Nikita Zadorov was rhetorical in nature: “How is your bracket ?”
As a result of clearly, it’s fairly messy.
The eighth-seeded Avalanche definitely performed a giant function in that. Colorado knocked off the Calgary Flames — the highest workforce within the West — in 5 video games for its first playoff collection win since 2008. It’s on to the second spherical, the place Colorado faces the winner of the Vegas-San Jose collection. The Golden Knights lead the Sharks Three-2.
“We’re Right here to Win the Cup”
Whereas others could also be shocked, Nathan MacKinnon and his teammates have been asserting that this post-season can be totally totally different. This time, in contrast to a yr in the past, they wouldn’t be content material with merely making the playoffs. This time, they wished to make some noise even when they once more entered as an eight seed and confronted a No. 1 seed.
“We’re not simply glad to be right here,” mentioned MacKinnon, whose workforce was eradicated within the opening spherical by top-seeded Nashville in six video games final yr. “We’re right here to win the Cup.”
Colorado really has been in playoff mode for a couple of month, needing to go Eight-Zero-2 down the stretch to earn the final spot. Regardless of the Avalanche’s surge, they weren’t precisely a classy choose to spring an upset on a Flames squad that amassed 107 factors. However they outscored the Flames by a 17-11 margin and outshot them 205-164.
The Colorado Avalanche outscored the Calgary Flames outscored the Flames by a 17-11 margin to advance. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
“Now we will relaxation earlier than the second spherical,” ahead Mikko Rantanen mentioned Friday after a 5-1 win in Sport 5. “That’s going to be enormous.”
And identical to that, one other high seed exited. Tampa Bay, the Presidents’ Trophy winner with the league’s finest report, obtained swept out of the playoffs by Columbus.
Courting to growth in 1967-68, this marks the primary time the highest two groups in every division or convention or the groups with the 2 finest data have been eradicated within the opening spherical, based on the league.
“We advised you going into the playoffs that we had a unique feeling, a unique mindset this yr, that we’re right here for a objective,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar mentioned. “Our guys imagine it … Our guys are hungry for extra.”
Rantanen Shines in First Spherical
Rantanen turned in fairly a collection, with 5 targets and 4 assists. He has no less than a degree in 4 straight video games, which is one away from tying the Colorado/Quebec franchise mark held set by Peter Stastny in 1982 and equaled by Peter Forsberg on three separate events.
This after Rantanen missed the final eight video games of the common season with an upper-body damage. He shook off some rust in Sport 1 after which spent the remainder of the collection shaking freed from defenders. He scored the extra time winner in Sport four.
Colorado Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen scored the OT winner in Sport four. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
“He got here again and he regarded superb and dominated,” MacKinnon mentioned. “It’s so good to have a man like that in your workforce.”
The identical might be mentioned for goaltender Philipp Grubauer, whose play down the stretch obtained the Avalanche into the post-season and whose play now has saved them rolling. Grubauer posted a 1.90 goals-against common in opposition to the Flames.
“He was a wall for us,” mentioned captain Gabriel Landeskog, whose workforce went Zero-Three in opposition to San Jose through the common season and 2-1 versus Vegas. “He was actually vital for us. He’s been actually strong this entire collection.”
Grubauer believes this workforce can attain a fair larger degree.
“If we will handle to play that approach for a very long time, we’re going to set ourselves up for a superb likelihood right here,” mentioned Grubauer, who gained a Stanley Cup title with Washington final season. “Guys are stepping up in the precise moments.”
Makar Makes His Debut
Like not too long ago signed rookie defenceman Cale Makar , who made his NHL debut in Sport Three and scored a aim. The 20-year-old signed a three-year cope with Colorado final Sunday, a day after his school season ended when Massachusetts misplaced within the Frozen 4 championship sport.
Makar, who’s from Calgary, grew up a giant Flames fan. He simply performed a job in eliminating them.
Matt Nieto had two short-handed targets within the collection, whereas Tyson Barrie added 5 assists and logged essentially the most ice time amongst Colorado skaters.
Within the clincher at Calgary, Rantanen, Colin Wilson, MacKinnon and Barrie all had no less than three-point performances. This marked the primary time within the workforce’s historical past that 4 gamers had no less than three factors in a series-clinching sport.
That comes as no shock to Landeskog.
“We wouldn’t be right here,” Landeskog mentioned, “if it wasn’t for each single man on this room.”
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Pat Graham, The Related Press