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The Landlubber’s Guide to the Colorado Avalanche

What you need to know about tonight’s Kraken opponent

NHL: New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hey you. You’re swept up in all this Seattle Kraken hype. You want to know more about hockey but don’t know where to start. Well, we want to help make these games easy and fun for you to watch.

Throughout the season, we’ll release Landlubber’s Guides designed with the new fan in mind. This includes basic need-to-know info for you to absorb before you watch Kraken games and highlights.

Let’s dive into the Colorado Avalanche.

Are they any good?

Very. They had the best record in the NHL last year, and heading into this season, they were predicted to be the #1 team in the league by most projections. A slew of injuries contributed to a rough start, but they have won 5 of their last 7 games. They are coming off a three-game win streak where they outscored their opponents 17-5. The Avalanche are, as they have since last season ended, the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They have lots of high-end star power in addition to depth. They have six legitimate top 100 players in the NHL.

Who should I look out for?

Cale Makar (Defense, #8) — he’s an elite defenseman at just 22 years old. He is very good defensively and drives a ton of offense with his passing and shooting. He’s a wizard with the puck and sometimes it feels like it’s attached to his stick on a string.

  • Gabriel Landeskog (Left Wing, #92) — Landeskog was a free agent this offseason and the Kraken briefly flirted with him before he chose to re-sign with the team he’s captained since 2012. It’s easy to see why they would flirt with him, as he is very handsome.
Colorado Avalanche 2021-2022 headshots Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Don’t be fooled by those warm eyes and the smile of an angel. He’s a menace for goalies, creating a strong presence in front of the net. He leads the Avalanche with 6 goals this season, tied with...

  • Mikko Rantanen (Right Wing, #96) — Nicknamed the “Moose,” another physical presence who drives offense at a very high level. He’s 6’4” 216 lbs but he moves with the skill of someone who is much smaller, has great vision and a good shot.

Let’s put it all together, shall we? In this goal, Rantanen drives the play, sets up a shot, and forces the goalie to make a great save. The Avs quickly regroup and keep the pressure on. When the Avalanche offense is clicking, it’s really tough to stop.

  • The other star defensemen (Samuel Girard #49, Devon Toews #7, Bowen Byram #4) — They have an embarrassment of riches on defense. Byram is an exciting young player who may not play due to concussions, but the Avs are very strong on the blue line and were rated the top defensive team in the projections this season.

Any Seattle Ties?

  • Joonas Donskoi was their pick from Colorado in the expansion draft.
  • Philipp Grubauer was the Avalanche starting goalie the previous two seasons. Incidentally, he also struggled in Colorado when he first joined them before eventually settling in and becoming a good goalie.
  • The Kraken selected Kurtis MacDermid from the LA Kings in the expansion draft, then flipped him to Colorado for a 4th round pick. MacDermid has been a healthy scratch the last three games.
  • Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram played for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

Odds & Ends

  • Colorado’s best player, Nathan MacKinnon, will not play due to a lower-body injury.
  • In 1995, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche. They won the Stanley Cup their first year in Denver, driving a dagger into the hearts of the loyal Quebec City fans. Quebec City was one of the main competitors for the 32nd NHL franchise before ultimately losing out to Seattle.
  • Colorado wore throwback Nordiques jerseys last year and they ruled:
NHL: FEB 22 Golden Knights at Avalanche Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • Colorado GM Joe Sakic is from Burnaby B.C., which is just outside Vancouver. He started his career with Quebec in 1988, stayed with the franchise through the move to Denver, captained them to two Stanley Cup wins, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and is now the GM of the team he’s been with for over 30 years. He really took the whole “face of the franchise” idea and ran with it.

Tonight’s game starts at 7pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena. This is streaming on ESPN+/Hulu exclusively.