Avalanche, NHL primed for another crammed schedule to close out the regular season

Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate defeating the Florida Panthers at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So much has changed around the NHL and for the Avalanche over the past two weeks. What looked like a normal season has suddenly been flipped upside down — COVID once again the culprit. And Monday’s latest round of leaguewide postponements, two of which are Avs games that were to take place this week, only further cements just how compacted the schedule is going to be moving forward.

Colorado has not played since a disastrous road game in Nashville on Dec. 16. The Avalanche began with Devon Toews in COVID protocol only for him to be joined by teammates J.T. Compher, Andre Burakovsky, Darcy Kuemper and Cale Makar before puck drop. The Avs ended up playing two roster players short, had just one healthy NHL goalie and were defeated 5-2 by the Predators to end their five-game winning streak.

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Wednesday and Friday’s matchups that were scheduled to take place against the Dallas Stars will be the sixth and seventh Avalanche games postponed since.

So when will all these games be played?

The regular season is still scheduled to end on April 29 as of now. We are also living a reality where the NHL will not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, which potentially frees up some February dates. But entering Sunday’s contest against Anaheim — a mere 17 days since their last game — the Avs will have played a league-low 27 games.

If nothing changes, the remaining 55 games will be crammed into 117 days. To put that into perspective, last year’s shortened season saw the Avs play 56 games in 120 days. They also had two COVID shutdowns mixed in, which lasted a combined 15 days.

One game fewer in just three fewer days ultimately means Colorado is primed to play the same type of crammed schedule it did last season. Only this time, travel will be as normal without a series of games scheduled in a single city.

The normalcy the NHL had for the first two months of the season has been shuttered. And for the team with the fewest amount of games played to date, it’s going to be a grind.

Only time will tell how they’ll respond. In 2021 they won the Presidents’ Trophy. This year, that feat may prove to be far more difficult.

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Aarif Deen
 is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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