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GDT Game 1: Coyotes series against Avalanche begins

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The playoffs officially begin as the Coyotes face off against the Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Game Preview

On Friday the Arizona Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators to win their best-of-five play-in round against the Nashville Predators. Arizona has officially broken their eight-year playoff drought as they prepare to face the Colorado Avalanche.

Arizona advanced thanks to a balanced offense and great goaltending from Darcy Kuemper. Sixteen players for the Coyotes recorded points in the series. Strangely enough, Alex Goligoski and Jakob Chychrun were two of the three players who played but were kept off the scoresheet, and they are two of the Coyotes’ best defensemen at generating offense.

The biggest knock against the Coyotes during the series was their poor power play, despite having several opportunities. Arizona converted on the man advantage just twice on twelve opportunities.

The Avalanche are going to be a tough match-up for the Desert Dogs. Colorado is one of the better teams in the league and are a Cup favorite for a lot of people.

While the Coyotes were fighting for their right to play, Colorado was going through the round-robin tournament to determine the tournament seeding. They beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 and shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 before falling to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

Years prior the Colorado Avalanche were seen as a relatively one-note team. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen are tough to stop, but if you shut them down you shut down the Avalanche.

Unfortunately for the Coyotes, that is no longer the case. Colorado now has players like Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and rookie sensation Cale Makar.

The Coyotes biggest advantage is going to be in net. Pavel Francouz and Philipp Grubauer both good goaltenders, but not as good as Kuemper. We aren’t sure how the starts will be handed out, Grubauer had two starts during the round-robin while Francouz started in one.

Players to watch:

Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson - OEL is one of four players with four points and he had two assists in the Coyotes’ last game. The Captain gets a lot of criticism, but he has been good this season, and he will likely be a key part of shutting down Colorado’s offense.

Colorado: Nazem Kadri - Kadri has four points in his past three games including two assists against Golden Knights. The Avalanche have better players than Kadri, but when you focus on them that leaves room for players like Kadri to take advantage.

Injuries

Arizona: Nick Schmaltz (questionable, neck), Antti Raanta (questionable, head)

Colorado: Colin Wilson (lower body)

Puck Drop

Today’s game in the Edmonton bubble will be at 2:30 pm and will air on Fox Sports Arizona Plus, Altitude Sports, and NBC Sports as well as Fox Sports 910 AM.