Following what seemed to be countless years of disappointing defeats during the postseason, the Colorado Avalanche broke the curse and got their hands on the Stanley Cup.
It was the first Stanley Cup they have managed to get their hands on during the Nathan MacKinnon-era and their third in total.
The Avalanche has a tenacious strategic approach, and it paid dividends last year. Jared Bednar’s men like to apply speed in every zone on the ice. Last season, the Avalanche were in truly ferocious form.
The Western Conference was in the palm of their hand, and this is what spearheaded their triumph to the Stanley Cup last season. The Avalanche team has been getting consistently better for several years.
The fact they lifted the Stanley Cup last season, despite being their first for a while, was no surprise to hockey fans, players and analysts. Going into last season, they were considered one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup.
There are plenty of other NHL odds you can find, and online bookmakers can give you odds on the upcoming NHL season. Following this magnificent triumph, the Avalanche allowed the dust to settle, and some of the most integral members of the squad struck while the iron was hot during free agency.
This has resulted in the Colorado-based team being in the midst of significant change during the offseason.
Despite the changes, they have managed to keep hold of their star man Nathan MacKinnon. This is going to be crucial if the Avalanches are going to attempt a repeat of their success last season.
Any team that goes on to win the Stanley Cup will usually have a talisman in the squad who drives them to the pinnacle of their performance. For the Avalanche, MacKinnon was that man and is widely considered one of the best hockey players on the planet.
He will be a handful if he is on form again, and the Avalanche could look to retain their title. That could be a tough task though, with other teams on their heels looking to stake their claim and close the gap.
To tie down MacKinnon into a bumper 8-year deal, the Avalanche have shown what their intentions are for the upcoming season, and their game against the Vegas Golden Knights could be a pretty eventful matchup.
The Avalanche will be looking to keep Mikko Rantanen in the middle, just like he was so successful last season. The NHL is moving with the times, and the game is always evolving.
It is moving towards a sport that doesn’t rely solely on a position as more players demonstrate more speed and athleticism and can cover larger parts of the rink more successfully.
Clearly, this doesn’t mean it’s some sort of free for all, and as long as he can defend consistently to a decent standard, he could look to be the spine of the team again. Separating him from the star man MacKinnon is going to be the key.
The level of play and consistency shown by the other candidates looking to take that center position could be one of the main measuring tools on how comfortable the Avalanche will be when making this important decision about their pivotal players.
Another deciding factor that will play a major role in who lifts the Stanley Cup this season is the recruitment and strength of the other teams in the Western Conference. Many of the chasing pack have made considerable improvements to their rosters.
The Eastern Conference will clearly be staking its claim as the better of the two divisions. Overall, it does look like it remains the higher-quality league. That isn’t to say the Western Conference isn’t packed with solid teams though.
The St Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild are all dangerous teams for a number of different reasons. However, the general consensus is that there are stronger challengers than others to the Avalanche’s claim for the top spot.
The Calgary Flames will be looking to close ground on the Avalanche after snapping up one of their key starlets from the Stanley Cup-winning team last season. Nazem Kadri was one of their biggest stars last year and used his free agent status to his advantage.
After failing to negotiate a new deal with the Avalanche he chose to sign with the Calgary Flames and is an excellent addition to their already high-quality team.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the Flames or the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t the two teams the Avalanche should be worrying most about this season.
Moving onto the Las Vegas-based Golden Knights, it’s rare for a team based out in the desert to operate smoothly in an ice hockey arena. However, they’ll be looking to take it to the Avalanche, and a few analysts consider them to have an outside chance at the Stanley Cup this season.
It’s extremely rare that a team will retain the Stanley Cup. In fact, it has only happened twice this century. For that reason, the omens aren’t looking great for the Avalanche, but they go into this season as favorites. However, the Golden Knights won’t be concerned by this.
The Knights did not have a great season last year by all accounts. However, this was not without reason. After a season in which they were absolutely crippled by injuries to some of their most significant and key players, the Golden Knights are working with a full squad again.
Not only have the Knights got a full-strength team back but they also have a roster full of players who have recently signed new deals this year including McNabb, Amadio and Thompson.
However, it’s hard to see a scenario where the Golden Knights manage to beat the Colorado Avalanche. This isn’t because they’re not a good team; they are more than capable – and it wouldn’t be the most surprising event if they got their hands on the Stanley Cup.
Despite the Knights having some solid talent throughout their team, it would be a surprise to see them get one over on their formidable Colorado-based foes.
This is reflected in the bookmakers’ odds, and even though they sometimes get it spectacularly wrong, it’s usually a pretty solid indicator of how the match will play out. Not only are the Avalanche favorites for this game, but they’re also resounding favorites to retain their title.
You will find fans and journalists who disagree with this though; a number have already backed the Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames to outperform the Avalanche this year. That’s not something we’ll put our name behind though.
It is difficult to see past the Avalanche again this year. Especially given the grit and determination they showed to win the Stanley Cup last season.
We’re going to see that the Golden Knights will start off strong against the Avalanche and put in a spirited performance. However, the Avalanche’s depth and quality, particularly their star man Nathan MacKinnon, should allow them to push through and come out victorious.