It may be an unnatural conclusion, but if the NHL’s plans play out, the Colorado Avalanche will get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup after all. A promising 42-20-8 regular -season record took some of the pressure off the resumption of play, eyed for late July at the earliest.
In the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars will each have a bye. While the other qualifiers duke it out below them, the top four finishers will play each other once to determine seeding for the first round of the playoffs.
Dallas had Colorado’s number this season, sweeping four contests. The Avalanche offense exploded for 13 goals in two meetings with the Golden Knights. Lastly, defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis split the season series with all games wrapping up in regulation.
Here’s a look at season series against the Avalanche’s future opening opponents:
St. Louis Blues (42-19-10, .662)
Oct. 21 - St. Louis 3, Colorado 1
After a fast start, the Avalanche saw their eight-game point streak halted and became the last team in the NHL to lose in regulation. Even worse, they lost Mikko Rantanen to a lower-body injury. The Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists.
Dec. 16 - St. Louis 5, Colorado 2
David Perron’s hat trick lifted the Blues past the Avalanche, ending another long Colorado point streak.
Jan. 2 - Colorado 7, St. Louis 3
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and three assists, Nazem Kadri scored twice and Samuel Girard had four assists for the Avalanche, who won for the first time in four games (1-2-1). Philipp Grubauer, who made 24 saves, hadn’t won in five attempts.
Jan. 18 - Colorado 5, St. Louis 3
Cale Makar set the Colorado Avalanche record for goals by a rookie defenseman at the Pepsi Center against the Blues. MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and Grubauer made 21 saves as the Avs won two in a row after losing four straight.
Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8, .606)
Oct. 25 - Colorado 6, Vegas 1
MacKinnon had two assists to extend his season-opening point streak to 10 games, becoming the first player in Avalanche history to start the season with a 10-game point streak.
Dec. 23 - Colorado 7, Vegas 3
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had two goals against his former team and Gabriel Landeskog scored while playing in his 600th NHL game for the Avalanche (23-11-3). Pavel Francouz made 29 saves for his fourth consecutive victory.
Dallas Stars (37-24-8, .594)
Nov. 1 - Dallas 2, Colorado 1
Roope Hintz scored two goals and Anton Khudobin made 38 saves for the Stars at the Pepsi Center. Nathan MacKinnon scored a power-play goal for the Avalanche to extend his point streak to 13 games, the fourth-longest to begin a season in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history.
Nov. 5 - Dallas 4, Colorado 1
Radek Faksa scored two goals and Ben Bishop made 36 saves for the Stars, who won seven of eight games after starting the season 1-7-1.
Dec. 28 - Dallas 3, Colorado 2, SO
J.T. Compher and Ian Cole scored and Grubauer made 38 saves for Colorado, which sat 1-3-1 in its past five games and blew a lead in the third period in each loss.
Jan. 14 - Dallas 3, Colorado 2, OT
The Stars rallied, sending the Avs to a fourth straight loss. MacKinnon had two assists. and Grubauer made 27 saves.