The Colorado Avalanche began their 36th playoff streak since the franchise moved to Denver tonight when the club faced the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena.
Head coach Jared Bednar gave no details about how his line-up for the first appearance of the best-of-seven series will look, but forward Nathan MacKinnon and Brandon Saad are expected to return to the lineup.
MacKinnon missed four of the last five regular season games with minor injuries to his lower body. He had one point in 14 consecutive games in the 2020 postseason, averaging 1.35 points per game with 54 (20 goals, 34 assists) in 40 career competitions in the playoffs. This is the fourth highest total among players who have occurred in at least 15 postseason trips. He follows only Wayne Gretzky (1.84), Mario Lemieux (1.61) and Barry Pederson (1.53).
“I want to play every game. Of course [needed to] Take care of a few little things, “said MacKinnon on Sunday as he skipped the four competitions he missed at the end of the Campign.” It wasn’t anything important, I just wanted to be healthy when I got game 1 good treatment and I feel good. “
Saad, two-time Stanley Cup champion (2013 and 2015) with the Chicago Blackhawks, last played in St. Louis on April 24 and missed the last eleven competitions with a lower body injury. He tops all the players on the Avalanche list with 81 playoff games.
Rookie defender Conor Timmins will also be on the line-up after missing the third period of the Avs final out of the year on Thursday. He amassed two assists in the competition and made a total of 31 appearances for Colorado in the campaign, scoring seven helpers, including three in the final three games of the season.
goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer will be in the fold at puck drop and secured by Jonas Johansson. Grubauer appeared in a career high of 40 games (39 starts), finished fifth in the NHL and ended the regular season that led to the standings in shutouts (seven), second in wins (30) and third in goals against average (1, 95), all career bests.
It’s only the second time Avalanche and Blues have met in the postseason when Colorado beat St. Louis in five games during the 2001 Western Conference Final. They also met in a round robin game during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Qualifier, when Nazem Kadri scored 0.1 seconds in regulation to give the Avs a 2-1 win last August.
The Avs finished the 2020-21 regular season 5: 3: 0 against the Blues, at home 3: 1: 0.
Below is the proposed Avalanche line-up based on the forward combinations and defensive pairings from Sunday’s practice. You can change.
92 Gabriel Landeskog – 29 Nathan MacKinnon – 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky – 91 Nazem Kadri – 72 Joonas Donskoi
20th Brandon Saad – 17th Tyson Jost – 13 Valery Nichushkin
18th Alex Newhook – 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 37 JT Compher
7th Devon Toews – 8th Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves – 49 Samuel Girard
24 Patrik Nemeth – 22 Conor Timmins
31 Philipp Grubauer
35 Jonas Johansson
Scratch: Dennis Gilbert, Liam O’Brien, Jacob MacDonald, Jayson Megna, Dan Renouf, Pine Sherwood, Carl Soderberg
Injury report: Bowen Byram (Upper body), Matt Calvert (Upper body), Devan Dubnyk (Return from COVID protocol), Pavel Francouz (Lower body), Erik Johnson (Upper body), Logan O’Connor (Lower body)
The St. Louis Blues will have Vladimir Tarasenko back in their line-up for Game 1, but without David Perron. Tarasenko missed eight of the last nine regular season games with a lower body injury and last played on May 3. In total, the striker appeared in 24 games and scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists).
Perron, who led the team this year with 58 points (19 goals, 39 assists), has been in the league’s COVID log since Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Craig Berube said defender Marco Scandella will play in Game 1 after failing to attend the team’s morning practice session, while Vince Dunn, who last played on April 24, won’t get dressed for the game.
Jordan Binnington is expected to be between the pipes for the blues. He went 18-2-8 in 2020-21, including a 3-4-0 with a saving of 0.909 percent and 2.89 goals against the average in seven games against Colorado.
Below is St. Louis’ proposed line-up for Game 1 courtesy of StLouisBlues.com.
17 Jaden Schwartz – 90 Ryan O’Reilly – 10 Brayden Schenn
49 Ivan Barbashev – 21 Tyler Bozak – 91 Vladimir Tarasenko
68 Mike Hoffman – 18 Robert Thomas – 25 Jordan Kyrou
13 Kyle Clifford – 12 Zach Sanford – 9 Sammy Blais
47 Torey Pitcher – 72 Justin Faulk
6 Marco Scandella – 55 Colton Parayko
77 Niko Mikkola – 41 Robert Bortuzzo
50 Jordan Binnington
35 Ville Husso