In the first two games of Colorado’s opening-round series versus the Wild — both Avalanche victories — Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals.
The rest of the Avs had two.
Tonight in Minnesota, the Wild will be hoping that having the last change in Game 3 can help shut down Colorado’s trio of red-hot forwards and turn the tide in the series.
From the StarTribune:
That likely will mean top defenseman Ryan Suter and the third line, which should consist of at least veteran Matt Cooke and speedy rookie Erik Haula.
“Obviously I want that matchup for me and for my line and for our team,” said Cooke, who will play his 100th playoff game. “It’s tough when you’re on the road. We’re going to get the last change, and if that’s the way that Coach wants to go, then I’ll be ready.”
Haula is the Wild’s fastest forward, so it would make sense to assign him the task of shadowing MacKinnon, one of the fastest NHLers already at the age of 18. MacKinnon has seven points in the first two games.
As much as the Avs have impressed with their spectacular goals and just-find-a-way-to-win attitude, the Wild have to know they’re not done yet. After all, Darcy Kuemper can’t be any worse than Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes, and it’s not like Colorado is brimming with playoff-proven veterans who have experience putting teams away.
Remember: of the eight first-round series in last year’s playoffs, two of them saw a team win the first two games, only to lose the series.