Morning Skate: Avalanche looking to continue playoff dominance in Game 2

May 17, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; NHL referee Chris Lee (28) drops the puck for St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly (90) and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the first period of game one of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Two years in a row: Five games, five dominant performances. Doing it a sixth time would be the difference.

The Avalanche are looking to take a two-game stranglehold of their second-round series against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. It would be the second consecutive season they’d accomplish the feat following a 6-0 start last year despite a less than stellar sixth game.

Listen to “Josh Manson’s Overtime Heroics” on Spreaker.

2021 playoff woes

In their second-round series a season ago, the Avs were outplayed in Game 2 against Vegas and needed an overtime power play to squeeze out the victory. It was that game where everything began to unravel and shift toward the Golden Knights’ favor.

Vegas ended up winning the next four games to take the series in six.

The parallels between the two seasons likely end there. At least that’s what the Avs are hoping for. This year has felt different for everyone. From the coach to the players and even the newcomers like Josh Manson, who scored the overtime winner in Game 1.

Shots

Heading into the second round, the Avs were going to be tasked with a tougher opponent than what they had faced during their four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators. But following Game 1’s dominance in the shot department, Colorado seems to have picked up right where it left off. Even an eight-day layoff couldn’t stop the red-hot Avalanche.

The Avs more than double the Blues in the shot attempts department (106-45) — something they’ll look to continue in Game 2.

“You can’t just be good at one area of it and be a huge difference-maker,” head coach Jared Bednar said of his team’s success on Tuesday. “You gotta be good in all areas and I thought we were in Game 1.”

Faceoffs

One of perhaps the biggest differences in Game 1 for the Avalanche compared to most games against St. Louis was their ability to win draws. Colorado gained possession off the faceoff 64 percent of the time, winning 34-of-53 draws.

Superstar center Nathan MacKinnon won 11-of-23 but the rest of the regulars had far greater success. Nazem Kadri (8-of-9), J.T. Compher (6-of-7) and Gabriel Landeskog (5-of-6) each lost just a single draw.

Against a team that controls the puck as well as the Blues do, faceoffs are a great way to possess the puck for a majority of the night. If the Avalanche can repeat their Game 1 performance in the circle, it could lead to another one-sided matchup in shots, high-danger opportunities and perhaps even the final score.

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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

Listen to “Josh Manson’s Overtime Heroics” on Spreaker.

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