After crushing the Coyotes in Game 4, the Avalanche put up a rerun in Game 5, eliminating Arizona 7-1. Despite the Coyotes grabbing a win in this series, the Avs advance after putting together one of the most one-sided First Round efforts you will see.
(Yes, that’s two straight 7-1 wins for the Avalanche. Yikes.)
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Avalanche dominate Game 5, Coyotes eliminated after another blowout
Less than five minutes in, Nazem Kadri scored another big goal, once again on the power play. It wouldn’t be Kadri’s last goal of Game 5, either, as he scored twice in the first period. Samuel Girard connect on the power play as well in the first, as the Avs dominated a listless Coyotes team through 20.
Speaking of reruns, the second period felt a lot like the first. The Avalanche poured on three more goals to make it 6-0. During that frame, Nathan MacKinnon really took over.
Game 5 looked over after the first, but the second erased even a hint of a doubt.
Mercifully, the Coyotes replaced Darcy Kuemper during the empty third. Kuemper played incredibly well early in this First Round series, including stealing a Game 3 win for the Coyotes (and keeping Arizona in most of Game 1). Unfortunately, the Coyotes didn’t develop much of a plan beyond “depend almost entirely on Darcy Kuemper and some bounces,” and the Avalanche rolled them over. About the only positive thing from Game 5 was that the Coyotes scored a garbage goal to avoid being shut out.
After this series, the Avalanche only look more like a superpower in the West. You probably don’t need a caveat like “rising” or “future” any longer; it sure looks like the Avs have arrived. Of course, the Second Round should present the sort of competition that can confirm or deny such feelings.
Call it Elimination Wednesday?
Lightning need OT to bounce Blue Jackets
Bruins use special teams to knock out Hurricanes
Golden Knights eliminated Blackhawks (also on Wednesday, technically, in some time zones)
A fuzzy future for the Coyotes after being blown out again by Avs
Yes, the Coyotes technically “made” the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Still, after a dramatic and messy split with now-former GM John Chayka, the Coyotes face terrifying uncertainty.
Whether Steve Sullivan remains in place, or someone else slides into the GM role, righting the Coyotes’ ship won’t be easy. Chayka might be gone, but his fingerprints will be hard to remove, considering a salary structure loaded with lengthy, sometimes-ugly-looking extensions. Is there much on this roster or farm system that indicates the Coyotes will be able to hang with the Avs of the world in the future? Will the Coyotes need to clean house amid financial uncertainty for the league as a whole?
(It’s almost impossible to imagine Taylor Hall choosing to re-sign with the Coyotes, in the unlikely event they’d find a way to afford him at all.)
Here’s hoping that Darcy Kuemper and/or Antti Raanta can maintain at least most of the stellar goaltending the Coyotes received over most of the past two seasons. That’s probably the brightest side to look at for a team that’s still going through some dark times.
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 7 Arizona Coyotes (COL wins 4-1)
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Avalanche 3, Coyotes 0 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: Avalanche 3, Coyotes 2 (recap)
Saturday, Aug. 15: Coyotes 4, Avalanche 2 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 17: Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1 (recap)
Wednesday, Aug. 19: Avalanche 7, Coyotes 1
• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.