Colorado Avalanche (52-22-8) at Minnesota Wild (43-27-12)
|Date & Time||Thursday October 9, 2014, 9:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Minnesota Wild / Colorado Avalanche --- Over/Under:
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The Avalanche look to continue their ascent to Western Conference supremacy as they kick off another NHL season on the road against their division rivals from Minnesota.
The Colorado Avalanche had one of the most impressive turnarounds in NHL history last season as they went from being the league’s worst team to finishing third overall in the league standings and had Avs fans longing for another Stanley Cup. Ultimately, the Avs fell short of their goal losing in the first round to this very same Minnesota Wild team and they will look to get their first crack at redemption on Thursday Night at the Xcel Energy Center. The Avalanche have a ton of talented youngsters at the core of their roster with Matt Duchene, Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly at the epicentre but they have brought in some backup as both Danny Briere and Jarome Iginla join the squad as they look to provide leadership and an offensive spark to their young counterparts. Patrick Roy has his team believing they can beat anybody on any given night and while they have the offensive fortitude to do so they are a little thin on the blue line and I think that could separate them from last year’s team to this one. The Avs overachieved in my opinion last year and while they are a good team no doubt I just don’t see them in the same light as many others.
The Wild meanwhile kick off another season with lofty expectations as well and in the ultra competitive Central division they know they’re going to have to bring their A-game all season long if they’re going to stay in reach of the Avs, Blackhawks, Blues, and Stars. Minnesota as mentioned ousted the Avs in seven games last year winning in Denver in game seven and while it certainly stings for the Avalanche you can bet the Wild have remembered that as well and will try to use it as a confidence booster in their season opener. Minnesota to me is a team that has the pedigree to make a deep run in the playoffs and with some of the moves they made in the offseason it reinforces that point as they have a ton of talented players that can alter the outcome of a game in a single play. They brought in Thomas Vanek to shore up their scoring who should have instant chemistry with former teammate Jason Pominville and with Ryan Suter as your top defenseman you’re going to be competitive regardless of who you’re playing and that is always a plus. On paper I like the Wild better than the Avs but again I’d like to see the price we have to pay for either side before recommending a winner.