Avalanche get a boost with return of Mikko Rantanen for Game 1

Avs may have Rantanen back for playoffs against Flames

Avs may have Rantanen back for playoffs against Flames

The Colorado Avalanche sniper shed the no-contact jersey on Wednesday during the team's skate at Family Sports Center in Denver, before the team flew to Calgary for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It doesn't appear to be safe to count any of the eight teams out. And he would not wager a dollar on this post-season. "I love playing for this team, this city and organization, so I put a lot of onus on my shoulders", said Johnson. This, along with well-rested, well-fed, happy, focused defensemen (the hockey Gods know our D-men sometimes are not exactly awake) will make the Avs the Flames' new nightmare.

In this hypothetical situation, the Flames would have managed to score early and often in every game they played.

Neal was signed as a missing piece of the puzzle by Calgary over the summer after playing in the Stanley Cup final with the Vegas Golden Knights previous year and the Nashville Predators in 2017.

On the other half of the bracket, the Central Division champion Nashville Predators face the wild-card Dallas Stars with the victor advancing to face Winnipeg or St. Louis.

It's a Calgary squad that features the likes of top scorer Johnny Gaudreau and a deep core of defensemen led by 35-year-old Mike Giordano. The coach of the year candidate will have some tough decisions to make in net because he doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender. In the final 11 games of the season, they went 8-1-2 and zipped by the Arizona Coyotes to nab the final wild-card spot.

"We were a top-10 team, ninth actually and I don't know if it's 2.70 or 2.73, but that was our goals against in the regular season", said Peters. Tyson Barrie ranked among the highest-scoring National Hockey League defencemen this season with 59 points.

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Find some balance. Both goalies are good, and when they're focused (I may or may not be looking at Semyon Varlamov while saying that) they are unbreakable. Most of the guys played their first games a year ago. "If you go out and dominate a team and get two power plays and out-shoot them 10-1 and then they come down and score, that shouldn't allow you to go on to lose that game".

Last season against Nashville, they were simply glad to get in (the Avs lost in six games). "Guys are going 100 miles an hour, everyone's jacked up, the building's on fire, and you're just flying around".

"He is back, he looks good", coach Jared Bednar said.

You wouldn't expect the Flames to panic if they fall behind to the Avalanche, though, no matter what time of the year they play each other. Well ... the Tampa Bay Lightning were the league leaders, so the best teams in that particular statistic happen to have been the teams who finished atop their respective conferences. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck was not as sharp this season as he was past year and that might be a concern against a hot team.

On a stacked team that captured the Western Conference title for the first time in 30 years, the space between the pipes has been a giant question mark for most of the season.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gaudreau has recorded 99 total points while scoring 36 goals and adding 63 assists for the Flames.

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