Deen’s List: Avalanche await second-round opponent as first round nears completion

Feb 24, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek (14) attempts to score past defenseman Bowen Byram (4) and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31)in the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been four days since the Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in four games. They were the first team to advance to Round 2 and they’ll have to wait until Friday night to learn who their next opponent will be. Minnesota travels to Vegas for Game 7 of their West Division series Friday and the Avs will play the winner.

That second-round series will begin at 6 PM MST on Sunday at Ball Arena regardless of who the Avs play.

Colorado is doing all it can to keep everyone engaged after such a long layover. Having this many days for recovery and practice is very much an uncharted territory this season. But regardless of who wins, the Avs will be ready to go.

Listen to “Rest or Rust” on Spreaker.

Let’s take a look around the Avalanche and NHL as we inch closer to the beginning of the second round.

The Deen’s List:

History says the Avalanche are in trouble

There have been five series since the turn of the century where a team coming off a sweep takes on a team coming off a seven-game series. In each of those series, the team that needed seven games the previous round has prevailed. Most recently, the 2019 Columbus Blue Jackets swept Tampa Bay only to lose to Boston in six games. The Bruins entered that series after needing seven games to eliminate Toronto.

The last time the team coming off a sweep has won was in 1999 when the Dallas Stars swept Edmonton and then defeated the St. Louis Blues in the following round.

Will history repeat itself?

No. 3 seed advances

The only matchup between the second and third seed that has not ended yet is the Vegas/Minnesota series. If the Wild manage to pull off the Game 7 upset and complete the comeback from down 3-1, they’ll be the fourth No. 3 seed to advance to the second round.

That’s right. Each of the other No. 2 seeds have lost their opening-round series. The Oilers were swept by No. 3 Winnipeg, the Panthers lost to No. 3 Tampa Bay in six games and No. 3 Boston defeated Washington in five games.

Your move, Minny.

Bo Byram is ready

Back to the Avs for a moment because this is worthy news heading into Round 2.

Defenseman Bo Byram is healthy and feeling 100 percent after an extended absence because of an injury and COVID. Byram met with the media Wednesday and admitted he wasn’t feeling well most days. But that’s changed.

The Avs played the same six defensemen in each of the four games against St. Louis. Young defenseman Conor Timmins played a team low 9:20 per game — more than nine minutes less than the second lowest (Patrik Nemeth, 18:23).

Byram has been cleared since before the first round and Avs coach Jared Bednar said on Thursday that Byram could be an option in the second round if needed.

Kadri’s appeal process

The first step of Nazem Kadri’s appeal process for his eight-game suspension is wrapping up. Kadri, who missed the last two games of the first round is looking to get his suspension reduced. He met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday morning via Zoom. If Kadri is unhappy with Bettman’s decision, he can take the next step in the process and meet with a neutral arbitrator.

An update on Bettman’s decision is expected Thursday.

Hart Trophy jinx

If Oilers superstar Connor McDavid wins the Hart Trophy, it would mean the Hart Trophy winner in each of the last three years would have not won a playoff game that same season. Crazy, right?

After recording a whopping 105 points in 56 regular-season games, McDavid, who is the favorite for the award, was swept out of the first round.

His teammate Leon Draisaitl won the award last year and Edmonton went on to lose in the play-in round to the Chicago Blackhawks, meaning they did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs at all. And in 2019, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov was part of the Presidents’ Trophy winning Lightning that was swept in four games by the Blue Jackets in the opening round.

You’d have to go back to 2018 when New Jersey’s Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy and then was ousted in the first round in five games. He was able to get one victory.