3 reasons Avalanche will repeat as Stanley Cup champions

The Colorado Avalanche open up their Stanley Cup title defense on Tuesday night when they welcome the Seattle Kraken to Ball Arena for the latter’s maiden playoff series. The Avs finished the regular season on an absolute tear, winning 10 of their last 12 games to leapfrog the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild and win the Central Division. That earns them a first-round series with an extremely green Seattle team that had a strong regular season but has question marks throughout the lineup, most notably in the crease.

Even without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who is out for the entire postseason, and Nazem Kadri, who was a huge part of the team’s championship run last year, Colorado is one of the strongest teams in the NHL on paper and has the club, the pedigree and the will to win back-to-back titles.

Here are three reasons the Avalanche will become the new Tampa Bay Lightning by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 2020s and cementing themselves as a modern day dynasty.

Playoff experience

The Avs have been here before, and winning the 2022 Stanley Cup was a long process that began with years of heartbreak. After not even making the playoffs in six of seven seasons between 2011-17, they lost in the second round three consecutive times from 2019-21. Winning a cup is incredibly difficult in the NHL’s age of extreme parity, and Colorado had its fair share of postseason losses before breaking through.

All that to say: they know how to win. They’ve been to the top of the hill with a very similar team that will open Game 1 on Tuesday night, and the playoff experience will be a huge factor once the grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts to take its course. The Avalanche know how to win big games and how to play well on the road, and that should take them a long way in 2023.

A healthy D-core

Finally, the Avalanche have a healthy group of defenseman for a playoff series. Most importantly is Cale Makar, who when healthy is arguably the best defenseman in hockey and also arguably one of the best players in the game period.

Makar missed the last seven regular-season games with a lower-body injury, after missing nine games in a 10-game stretch from Feb. 9-Mar. 1 with a concussion and four games from Jan. 18-24 with an upper-body injury. He’s been in and out of the lineup after winning the Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe last season, and him being back to 100 percent is absolutely huge for Colorado.

Josh Manson is also trending towards being ready for Game 1 after missing a large chunk of the season himself, and he is a crucial presence on the team’s back-end. With Makar, Manson, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Bowen Byram and Erik Johnson expected to be in the lineup for Game 1, the Avs have one of the best D-cores in the NHL ready to go.

MacKinnon & Rantanen

Nathan MacKinnon missed 11 games of the season and still managed to record an astounding 111 points in 2022-23. Mikko Rantanen broke the Avalanche record for most goals in a single campaign with 55, adding 50 assists for his first 100-point season in the process.

MacKinnon and Rantanen have been the drivers of this team for years, but both players were outstanding this season, and one of the main culprits behind the late surge that won the team the Central Division. They were also crucial pieces last season, and like most of these Avalanche players, have suffered heartbreak and now know how to win at the highest level.

Gabriel Landeskog is out for the entire postseason after undergoing knee surgery, and Nazem Kadri is no longer the elite second-line center in Denver. But the way MacKinnon and Rantanen have played this season, at both ends of the rink, they should be able to pick up the slack.

The bottom line is, the Colorado Avalanche are an outstanding hockey team. They have elite forwards, one of the best D-cores in the sport, and rock solid goaltending in Alexander Georgiev. But winning a ring is a tall task, and winning back-to-back is near impossible. The Avalanche can certainly be the last team standing and hoist the Stanley Cup in 2023, but it’s going to take some phenomenal hockey, and some bounces going their way, for that to happen.

The post 3 reasons Avalanche will repeat as Stanley Cup champions appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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