The red-hot Avalanche, the preseason Stanley Cup favorite, enters Tuesday’s two-game finale at Arizona as probably the most feared opponent in the NHL.
In Monday’s opener at Gila River Arena, the Avs received goals from all four lines and goalie Philipp Grubauer collected his career-high 19th victory. He also lowed his NHL-leading goals-against average to 1.71 as Colorado extended its winning streak to seven games with a 5-1 victory.
For the 19th time in the past 20 games, the Avs held their opponent to less than 30 shots.
Offensively and defensively, there isn’t a better team in the league than the Avs, which has outscored its opponents 16-2 in the last three games and 32-8 during its winning streak.
“They have a lot of depth and they came at us in waves,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said after Monday’s game. “There were certain parts of the game that we held our own, but their depth just really took over.”
Colorado is now 3-0 against the Coyotes at Gila River Arena and 4-1 overall. Arizona’s frustration is mounting.
“Frustration, to me, is when there are plays there to be made and you don’t make them,” Tocchet said. “You are losing one-on-one battles against a guy then, yeah, I guess that is frustration.”
The Avs have scored in 17 consecutive periods, and over the last 11, they have outscored their opponent 22-2.
Colorado leads the NHL in both shots-per-game (35.2) and shots-against-per-game (24.9). And guess what? The last team to lead the league in both categories was the 2009-10 Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
In shots differential, Colorado is plus-307 — far ahead of the next-closest team, the Boston Bruins at plus-135.
“They put pressure all over the ice,” Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz said of the Avs. ” They’re a good team, they’ve got good sticks. They pressure the puck super hard and there’s a lot less time and space than playing against most teams. You’ve got to know where your teammates are, you’ve got to work to support each other. If you’re not doing that, it’s going to be a long night because they make a lot of quick plays and they’re super fast.”
A strong and relentless forecheck might slow the Avalanche, Arizona forward Hudson Fasching said.
“I know it sounds a bit repetitive and a bit boring, but getting the puck in and making simple plays and limiting their ability to work their transition game because that’s really where a lot of the strength of their game is,” he said. “You see that on the rush and how they make plays. They’re using their speed. If we can limit their abilities on the rush and get pucks in deep. I know that sounds basic, but that’s got to be the game plan.”