2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Avalanche: Look out, Western Conference

Published: January 6, 2014, 12:02 pm, by Paul Klee

The lower-seeded team nobody would want to play in the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs?

It’s the Avs.

This is assuming, of course, Patrick Roy’s bunch A) reaches the playoffs B) is a lower-seeded team in the playoffs. 

But if those things happen, the Avs offer the blueprint for a team that can make a surprising run. Sunday’s 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks, an outfit plenty good enough to win the Stanley Cup, showed why. It starts with an explosive, diverse offense that put four goals on the board just six minutes into the second period.

When identifying potential playoff spoilers, I lean toward star power and a powerful offense over grinding, muck-it-up upstarts. The Avs have star power, even if it is still developing and on the young side. 

And if the game slows to a more deliberate pace in the playoffs, the Avs can win that way, too. They rank eighth in goals per game and 10th in goals allowed per game.

Right now the Avs are in the No. 5 spot in the West. But only three points separate them from the No. 8 spot, and you don’t want the powerful, veteran Blackhawks in the first round. If they can avoid that matchup, look out.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette