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Playoffs to Begin For Avalanche & Nuggets

Philipp Grubauer

The 2021 NHL Regular season has ended, and the playoffs are set to begin this week.

The Colorado Avalanche come into the NHL Playoffs with plenty of momentum, but they will be facing a recent Stanley Cup champion in the first round.

Colorado won the President’s Trophy this season, which is awarded to the team with the best regular season across the league. This has earned Colorado the number one seed in the West Division, arguably one of the toughest in the NHL.

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The St. Louis Blues will be the opponent for the best-of-seven series which will begin in Colorado, and the Avalanche will host four games in the series, if necessary. Colorado has won five straight games and eight of nine overall.

St. Louis got off to a miserable start to the regular season but won three straight games to get into the playoff field. The Avalanche racked up 82 points on the year, while St. Louis managed to get just 63 points.

This will be a contrast of styles as the Avalanche want to play a fast, wide-open style of hockey. St. Louis is one of the most physical teams in the league, and the Blues will challenge the Avalanche for the puck.

Goaltending could play a key role in this series, and the Avalanche appear to have a clear advantage in the net. Philipp Grubauer gave up less than two goals per game for Colorado, and that allowed the offense to take control on most nights.

St. Louis still has Jordan Binnington in net, but things have not gone well for the netminder since winning the 2019 Stanley Cup. Binnington failed to win a game in last year’s playoff and was benched earlier this season.

Game 1 is set for Monday night.

Nuggets Not Locked In

The Denver Nuggets will be one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference, but it’s yet to be determined where they will fall. Denver and the LA Clippers are both battling for the number three seed in the West, and that will be decided on the final day of the regular season.

Both the Nuggets and Clippers enter the final day of the regular season with identical 47-24 records, but Denver holds the tiebreaker. This means a win by the Nuggets over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday will lock them into the number three seed.

The LA Clippers will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, and they will be big favorites in that game. A loss by the Clippers would put the Nuggets as the number three seed, but Denver needs to take care of business against the Trail Blazers.

Earning the number three seed would help the Nuggets avoid the Utah Jazz until the Western Conference Finals, but it could also earn them a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. Playing without Jamal Murray for the entirety of the postseason won’t be easy, but Nikola Jokic has proven that he can lead this team.

MVP voting is due at the end of the regular season, and it is widely assumed that Jokic will be named the league MVP.

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