logo

Western Conference Playoff Preview and Prediction: Colorado Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets

Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon
Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
13 days ago
Depth versus high-end talent. Which team are you taking?
Over the next couple of days, I’ll be previewing the four playoff series in the Western Conference. In this article, we’ll look at the series between the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche, the second- and third-place teams in the Central Division.
Let’s take a gander at the two teams’ forward cores, the defence core, the goaltending, and the two teams’ playoff experience.

Forwards

The Colorado Avalanche have elite forwards, namely Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. This past season, MacKinnon set a new franchise record with 140 points while scoring a career-high 51 goals. Rantanen, on the other hand, had 42 goals and 104 points.
In terms of their depth, Jonathan Drouin had a great bounceback season, scoring 19 goals and 56 points, but he won’t appear in the first round due to a fluke injury in the final game of the season. Valeri Nichuskin scored 28 goals and 53 points in 54 games, missing a part of the season as he joined the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.
The Jets are led by Mark Scheifele’s 72 points and 25 goals, while Kyle Connor led the team with34 goals and had 61 points in 65 games. Nikolaj Ehlers had 25 goals and 61 points, and that’s basically it for their high-end talent.
Where the Jets lack high-end talent, they have a ton of depth. Cole Perfetti had 19 goals and 38 points, Vladislav Namestnikov had 11 goals and 37 points, Gabriel Vilardi had 22 goals and 36 points, Mason Appleton had 14 goals and 36 points, Adam Lowry had 12 goals and 35 points, Nino Niederreiter had 18 goals and 34 points, and Alex Iafallo had 11 goals and 27 points.
In addition, the Jets acquired two top-six forwards at the deadline, acquiring Sean Monahan, who has 13 goals and 24 points in 34 games as a Jet, while Tyler Toffoli had seven goals and 11 points in 18 games and scored over 30 goals.
The Avalanche aren’t as blessed with their depth, as Ross Colton has 17 goals and 40 points, while Artturi Lehkonen has 16 goals and 34 points. Those are the only two depth players with 30+ points, but Miles Wood had nine goals and 26 games, Logan O’Connor had 13 goals and 25 points, and Casey Mittelstadt had four goals and 10 points in 18 games after a trade deadline move.
One team relies on their top players, while the other team has depth scoring on all four lines. It’s a great matchup.

Defence

Colorado’s best defenceman is arguably one of the best defencemen in the league, as Cale Makar had 21 goals and 90 points in 77 games this season. He’ll receive Norris Trophy votes, but it’ll likely go to Quinn Hughes this season.
While Josh Morrissey isn’t on the same level as Makar, he did have 10 goals and 69 points this season, good enough for the eighth-most points by a defenceman. However, both teams have strong defence cores outside of their top defencemen.
Alongside Makar is Devon Toews, who has 12 goals and 50 points this season. On their second-pairing, the Avalanche have Samuel Girard (a game-time decision), who has three goals and 18 points, alongside Josh Manson, who has eight goals and 25 points. On their third-pairing, the Avalanche deploys Jack Johnson (three goals, 16 points) and Sean Walker, who has four goals and seven points in 18 games with the Avalanche but has 10 goals and 29 points as a whole this season. Former Edmonton Oiler Caleb Jones is their seventh-defenceman
Morrissey’s partner is Dylan DeMelo, who has three goals and 31 points this season. On their second pairing, the Jets deploy Brenden Dillion (eight goals, 20 points) and Neal Pionk (five goals, 33 points). The Jets third-pairing consists of Logan Stanley (one goal, two points in 25 games) with Dylan Samberg (one goal, 18 points) on his right-side. The Jets brought in Colin Miller at the trade deadline, and he has an assist in five games.

Apr 18, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) watches Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) during the second period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltending

There’s only one clear position where a team is better than the other one, and that is goaltending. It’s not a hot take to say Connor Hellebuyck is the best goaltender in the sport. This season, he has a .921 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average in 60 games played. He’ll more than likely win his second Vezina Trophy of his career.
Even their backup, former Oiler Laurent Brossoit, has a .927 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average in 23 games played. Sadly for the two netminders, they won’t qualify for the William M. Jennings Trophy, due to Brossoit playing just 23 games (and needing 25 games).
The Avalanche’s two netminders also won’t be winning the William M. Jennings Trophy but for a very different reason. Alexandar Georgiev played 63 games this season and had a suboptimal .897 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average. In recent times, Justus Annunen has been their best goalie, as he has a .928 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against average in 14 games played this season.

Wrapping up

Playoff experience isn’t the end-all-be-all to determine success, but it is important. When I computed every Western Conference playoff team’s playoff games played, the Colorado Avalanche had 974 playoff games to Winnipeg’s 799 playoff games. 
There is a sizable gap, but the cores of both teams have had deep runs. The Jets went to the conference finals back in the 2018 playoffs, while the Colorado Avalanche won it all in the 2022 playoffs. However, the following season, they were bounced in seven games to the Seattle Kraken, who were in their first-ever playoff series.
The Jets absolutely owned the Avs during the regular season, winning all three meetings between the teams by a combined score of 17-4. Winnipeg has Colorado’s number right now, though the Avs will make things tighter in the playoffs than they did during the regular season. Jets in six.

If you enjoy my content, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

Check out these posts...