Avalanche sweep aside Blues in four straight to open 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs
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The Colorado Avalanche claimed the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record during the 2020-21 regular season in the NHL.
And Colorado proved that accomplishment was no fluke, downing the St. Louis Blues in four straight games to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Avalanche picked up a 5-2 victory in Game 4 at the Enterprise Center last Sunday in St. Louis to clinch the series.
“I thought it was our best game of the series,” Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said. “I liked our game a lot tonight. I think that the details of our checking and our structure were outstanding. Tough to work through all five of our guys tonight, just put a real importance on playing the right way and checking the right way and getting back above pucks and made it difficult. Kept their scoring chances-against down tonight, and it was a full 60-minute effort. I think the first three games, we had some lapses in our game and some things that I didn’t like, but tonight I liked a lot of it.
“Maybe not as dangerous as what we can be on the offensive side of things, we found a way to score enough goals to win the hockey game.”
Colorado finished the series outscoring the Blues 20-7.
Phillip Grubauer earned the win all four games in goal, while Nathan MacKinnon led the Avs in scoring with nine points (six goals, three assists).
“Definitely proud and it is not easy to do,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who had eight points (two goals, six assists) against the Blues. “I mean, St. Louis, believe me, they are a really good team. I think you look at the whole series and you break down each game, I think the score hasn’t really been indicative of the way the series has been. It’s been really tight, it’s been hard checking, and it hasn’t been easy. So, come in here in a tough building to play in and take two in a row against a desperate team, it is not easy to do.
“Happy that we got it done and without giving them any sort of momentum or hope.”
Next up for the Avalanche is the winner of the Minnesota Wild-Vegas Golden Knights series. That series is tied at three games apiece with Game 7 tonight.
Colorado will host Game 1 at Ball Arena Sunday at 6 p.m.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment also announced this week that Ball Arena has received approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to increase capacity for Avalanche games and Denver Nuggets basketball games effective with the next game.
Following the most current capacity guidelines set forth by CDPHE, DDPHE, NHL and NBA, the venue will accommodate 10,500 fans per game, which is 57.3 percent of overall venue capacity. The previously approved capacity was 7,750, which is 42.3 percent of overall venue capacity.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring additional fans into Ball Arena for the upcoming Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche playoff games,” said Matt Bell, KSE’s VP of venue booking. “We are very thankful for all of the support and collaboration from Governor Jared Polis and his team, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and his team, CDPHE, DDPHE, NHL and NBA as we continue our journey back to full capacity at Ball Arena.
“We will continue to work with them and ensure the health, safety and wellness of our fans, frontline workers, staff and athletes remains our top priority as our venue capacity continues to be evaluated.”
** All photos/quotes courtesy of Colorado Avalanche website **
— Matt Mackinder
(May 25, 2021)