When the NHL returns, expect the Colorado Avalanche to come back with a vengeance.
The league has made progress towards restarting the season by approving a 24-team playoff format.
The recent progress does not guarantee the sport will return this year, but a set of guidelines are now in place should the league restart operations during the current pandemic.
Should this format be applied given the latest standings, the Avalanche would be the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Under the new arrangement, the top four teams in each conference would receive a first-round bye, similar to the NFL.
The remaining teams would play in best-of-five series, with the format changing to best-of-seven for the second-round and beyond.
Should hockey return, the NHL will likely play games in a set of host cities, as opposed to home arenas.
The NHL is preparing to enter Phase 2 of its return to play plan. Phase 2 would allow players to return to facilities for training in groups no larger than six people at a time. There is no official date set for when Phase 2 will be enacted, although early June appears to be the target.
Players are chomping at the bit to get back on the ice, including various members of the Avalanche organization.
Colorado was in the midst of a tremendous season when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to suspend play. The Avs possess a robust blend of talent and are a well-rounded, efficient team.
Boasting a 42-20 record before the shutdown, the Avalanche were in a prime position to make a deep postseason run.
As a matter of fact, Colorado Defenseman Ian Cole went as far as to say he thinks the Avalanche can beat any team, regardless of when the season returns.
“You only have so many opportunities to be on a really great team that has a very legitimate chance, and I view us as a team that has a very legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup,” Cole told The Denver Post. “I look around at all the teams in the League, and obviously I’m quite a bit biased, but I think we can beat any team in this league in a seven-game series.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to win two Stanley Cups, but there’s nothing more I want to do than win a third one, and then a fourth one, and then a fifth one. I think a lot of guys on this team mimic that.”
Cole, a two-time champion, is clearly confident in the ability of his team. Oddsmakers are also optimistic about Colorado, as the Avalanche currently have the third-best odds (+750) to win the Stanley Cup, per FOX Bet Colorado.
The Avalanche are one of the fiercest squads in the NHL. At full strength, they certainly have the talent to compete for a Stanley Cup trophy.
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