DENVER (KDVR) — Larimer Square in downtown Denver is decked out in Colorado Avalanche gear. The city and its fans are ready for the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Avalanche earned the Presidents’ Trophy given to the team finishing the regular season with the best record in the league. The Avs have been highly favored to win the Stanley Cup this season with solid play and talented depth.
“With all the adversity, just the way this year has gone with injuries and COVID breaks and what not, I think it’s a nice feather in our cap to be able to get the Presidents’ Trophy and set ourselves up with home ice for the playoffs,” Avs head coach Jared Bednar said.
“There’s a lot of guys, we’ve seen a lot of individual growth from them and our team as well from four years ago.”
Superstar Nathan MacKinnon is expected back in the lineup for Game 1 after missing the final two games of the season with a lower-body injury. Brandon Saad will also return and Conor Timmins may be on the ice.
Bednar is glad to have MacKinnon back but acknowledged that their opponent’s record doesn’t necessarily reflect the ability of the team.
“Everything is sort of coming together for them at this point. Depth scoring, special teams have been outstanding. Power play was good all year but has really taken off in the last 13 games or more. Penalty kill stepped up, their goaltending is better down the stretch, they’re getting guys healthy,” Bednar said.
“Remember this is a team that has had a significant amount of injuries to key players throughout the course of this season. So their numbers, and maybe the wins/losses weren’t as good as what people expected. But now they’re getting healthy, looks like they’ve got a full lineup. They’re a tough team,” Bednar said.
Blues’ forward David Perron was added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list and could be out for Game 1, and possibly miss the entire round. He scored eight points in his last five games. Two other Blues’ players have been on the list, one testing positive after being fully vaccinated.
Ball Arena was approved for increased capacity on Wednesday. The puck drops on Monday at 8 p.m. MDT in front of a limited capacity house.