Is Chuck Kobasew a top six forward? He is in Colorado

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The Colorado Avalanche are looking to start the new season off with a bang and end up being a surprise playoff team in the Western Conference. With the likes of Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, and rookie Gabriel Landeskog set to potentially be offensive stars for the Avs, the future is looking brighter after last season saw them finish as the second-worst team in the NHL.

If you were to take a look at the Avalanche roster and pick out how you think the lines would be set up, however, you could design a video game-like set up with all their highest potential scorers teamed up together. With the aforementioned guys as well as a healthy Peter Mueller, David Jones, and T.J. Galiardi where would you have Chuck Kobasew set to line up?

If you’re head coach Joe Sacco, you’ve got Kobasew set to start on your second line as a left winger.

All Things Avs’ Adrian Dater has the politically correct take on what he makes of this curious move.

I like to watch a guy play more than I’ve had the chance to see Kobasew before I level some kind of judgment (positive or sarcastic), so I’m going to wait longer on this one. But is it a bit dispiriting knowing the Avs are giving a top-six spot now to a guy who scored 18 goals in 105 games with Minnesota the last two years? Perhaps.

While Dater will hold off on his sarcasm for now, we’re not going to pull punches: This is a strange move.

While this might be just a move to start the year and things can (and will) change throughout the year, Kobasew is a guy who’s shown glimpses of offensive play but nothing that makes us believe he’s a guy who has been held back by the teams he’s played for. With the Flames, Wild, and the Bruins he’s always been the guy with “potential” to break out and be that depth scorer and solid defensive forward. The offensive part of his game has never materialized though as Dater’s citation makes note of.

Three seasons out of Kobasew’s eight in the NHL he’s scored 20 or more goals. He did it once in Calgary and twice in Boston. Since being traded to Minnesota, however, Kobasew’s goal scoring has disappeared. Whether that’s the fault of playing with a punchless Wild lineup or the chance that Kobasew’s career has plateaued is up for debate. If he can be a 20+ goal scorer again for Colorado he’ll make Joe Sacco look smart. If not, the move looks bad and Colorado’s struggles could be reignited for another season in Denver.

The joy of the start of the season is that anything seems possible and Kobasew could be that breakout candidate. Consider us skeptical.

The West’s next round is now set (and wide-open)

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Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.

Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.

The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.

St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.

It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.

Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

Wow.

With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.