The West Division could come down to a winner-take-all scenario Monday.
The Avalanche defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday and Saturday to remain in the race for both the West Division and the Presidents’ Trophy. They play at the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Monday in the NHL’s biggest game of the last week before the playoffs.
If Vegas wins, they clinch the West and the Presidents’ Trophy with the best NHL record. If the Avs win in regulation, they have a chance to win both the West and the Presidents’ Trophy.
Monday’s matchup won’t be easy. And the potential return of superstar center Nathan MacKinnon could be a major boost.
But with or without MacKinnon, Colorado is going to need guys like Devon Toews, Cale Makar and Andre Burakovsky to continue to produce as they have in recent games. Having strong special teams will also help.
The Deen’s List:
Toews’ offensive production
Wearing the alternate captain’s ‘A’ for the second consecutive game — the first time in his career — Toews scored two goals to increase his career-high goals to nine. He also matched his career-high in points (28) reaching the feat in 18 fewer games than a season ago with the New York Islanders.
Toews leads the Avs in ice-time, 24:47 per game.
Makar gunning for Norris
Makar’s offensive production has taken off. He has three goals and eight points in his last six games to pull within a point of the top-five point-producers among defensemen in the NHL (43 points).
Makar has played at least 11 games less than each of the five players ahead of him. He is the only defenseman in the NHL with more than a point-per-game pace and remains in the Norris Trophy conversation as the league’s best defenseman — despite missing 12 games.
“It’s so much fun to watch him play and the way he creates time and space for his teammates,” Toews said of Makar. “Part of the Norris are points but I think the other half should be how you create for your teammates and what you can generate for them.”
Burakovsky goes streaking
Burakovsky increased his point streak to five games after recording two assists. He has three goals and eight points in that stretch to reach 40 points for the second consecutive season.
Before his trade to Colorado, Burakovsky had never reached the 40-point plateau or 20-goal mark. He scored 20 in 58 games last season and is currently at 17 with three games left.
Not bad for the third-highest scoring winger on the team.
A disciplined two games
The Avs were a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill on Saturday. They had just three minors in the two-game series in L.A. and killed off all three penalties.
“Good discipline,” Bednar said of his team’s few penalties Saturday.
The Golden Knights are in the bottom 10 in the NHL on the power play but have the ability and the assets to turn it on at any given time. Staying out of the box Monday is going to be huge for the Avs.
Top-10 Special teams
Unlike the Knights, the Avalanche are among the top-10 in both the power play and penalty kill — one of five teams around the NHL to rank that high in both categories.
They rank eighth in the NHL in both power play (23.1) and penalty kill (82.4) percentage.