The Colorado Avalanche continue their three-game road trip in Brooklyn on Saturday. They will head to Boston for a Monday meeting with the Bruins before heading home to welcome the Maple Leafs. Colorado hopes the bleeding comes to an end before they come home. On a five-game losing streak, the Avalanche are doing a good job taking themselves out of the playoffs. They are now 2 points behind in the Western Conference of the final wildcard seed.
Earlier in the season this looked like a team that was coming around and ready to fly without the Matt Duchene drama in Denver. Players appeared to be buying into Jared Bednar’s system, but what do we make of it now? Teams are prone to going on extended hot and cold streaks in the NHL. The most important part of the season is coming up soon, so we will see what the Avalanche are made of.
They will have a high draft pick in the upcoming draft regardless of how they finish the season. The Avs are in possession of the Senators’ first-round pick, which was acquired in the trade for Duchene. Terrible trade for the Senators who are flirting with last place in the league.
If the Senators win the lottery Jack Hughes will be going to Denver. And if Hughes pans out and becomes a franchise player, this may go down as one of the more terrible trades in NHL history. Duchene may not even be a Senator by the end of this season and they’re most certainly not going to get a top-5 selection for him now. Good news for the future in Colorado, but focusing on getting to the playoffs this year is priority No. 1.
They have a sizable challenge against the Islanders on Saturday. The 1st place Isles are hot with a record of 31-16-6. They’re 2 points up on the Capitals in the Metropolitan. The difference between that and no playoff berth is relatively close, though. Pittsburgh are the last team in with 63 points. Head below for our free Avalanche vs. Islanders pick.
Colorado Avalanche vs. N.Y. Islanders Pick
The catalyst of the Islanders has been Robin Lehner between the pipes. You can throw everything out the window this season if it weren’t for Lehner playing like a Vezina candidate. Lehner has been having his best season by far with a 2.02 GAA and 0.932 save percentage. He’s helped the Islanders to 1st defensively in the league. As a team they have surrendered just 2.34 goals per game. It isn’t really close in that regard, as the Predators are in 2nd with 2.54 allowed per.
While Lehner has been getting attention, it’s been a total team effort for the Islanders. As a testament to that, there are eight players on the roster with their +/- eclipsing double digits. Mathew Barzal leads the team with 48 points, as he’s recorded 16 goals and 32 assists.
He is a dynamic player which was on full display in the All-Star Game. In the absence of John Tavares, Barzal has emerged as a complete player for the Islanders. Likely to be buyers at the deadline, Artemi Panarin has been a name the Islanders have been warming up to.
There is a disclaimer that comes with Panarin, as he is likely only going to be a rental until the offseason. If the Islanders think they have a team that can go far, Panarin would make sense. With a solid core and chemistry at an all-time high, chancing disrupting that might be a bit dangerous, though. They are coming off a 2-1 win over the Devils on Thursday.
The Islanders won the first meeting against the Avs by a score of 4-1 in December. Colorado have allowed 3.5 goals per game on the road this season, while the Isles have given up only 2.23 at home. Varlamov has been struggling recently with 17 goals for an average of 3.4 goals allowed per game in his previous five starts. He started out hot this season, but has seen considerable regression. I’d feel more comfortable siding with the Islanders on Saturday afternoon.