Do the Avalanche or Nuggets have a better chance of winning a championship?
Kyle Fredrickson, Avalanche beat writer
Predictable, right? The Avs beat writer takes the team he covers. But this pick is based on equal parts familiarity and reality. The Avalanche are proven champions with a 2021-22 Stanley Cup to prove it. The Nuggets are still chasing that dream. Give me the group that’s already shown they can be the last ones standing.
I’ll admit the Avalanche have a more difficult path to their second title. Their lineup has been decimated by injuries with still no timetable on the return of captain Gabe Landeskog. Of course, historically, winning consecutive Cups has proven especially difficult. Only eight franchises have ever done it with Tampa Bay (2019-20 and 2020-21) as the last repeat champion.
What gives me confidence? The Avalanche are built with arguably the league’s best coach (Jared Bednar), definitely the league’s best defenseman (Cale Makar) and a relentless top-line engine who sets the standard (Nathan MacKinnon). There isn’t another team in the NHL with a better trio.
Colorado will need some unexpected good fortune along the way. Every team that wins a title, in any sport, usually benefits from a bit of luck. The Avalanche have built up loads of good karma in a challenging season. They’re much closer to winning another title than the other team at Ball Arena.
Danielle Allentuck, Rockies beat writer
From an outsider perspective, this one is pretty simple for me. The Nuggets have something to prove. They’ve entered the postseason the last four seasons as one of the top teams in their conference. They have the two-time reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic.
Yet they have absolutely nothing to show for it.
The Nuggets have never won a title, despite all the talent that’s come through the city over the years. They’ve made it to the conference finals just once in the last four years, when they fell to the Lakers 4-1 in the 2020 bubble.
The Nuggets are the best team in the West, seven games ahead of the Kings and Grizzlies. Jokic could win another MVP award and Jamal Murray keeps hitting 3-pointers left and right. They have Michael Porter Jr. and some depth pieces to carry them through the long playoffs. They are much healthier in comparison to the Avalanche, and should be able to breeze through the end of the regular season.
They are the only thing holding themselves back from lifting that trophy and bringing a title back to Denver.
It’s now or never for the Nuggets. And my gut is telling me it's the first option.