Five Things to watch when Avalanche faces Lightning – The Denver Post


Toews and Makar. Colorado’s two most important players are blue-line partners Devon Toews and Cale Makar because they are the skaters who play the most. Makar logged a game-high 28:50 in Game 1 and Toews was second at 25:35. The Avs duo got beat on the Lightning’s second goal but were otherwise fantastic. However, they only produced one shot between them and all seven of Makar’s attempts were blocked or off-target.

“They’re very good at blocking shots,” Makar said of Tampa’s defenders. “I still felt like we were creating … even when they’re blocking shots our forwards are doing a good job retrieving those. For us, it’s just trying to get past that second layer.”

Kuemper vs. Vasilevskiy. The goaltending matchup favors Tampa Bay but it was generally a draw in Game 1. The Avs’ Darcy Kuemper only faced 23 shots and stopped 20 of the (.870). The Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 34 of 38 (.895).

Kuemper is again the likely starter for Game 2. “I thought he did a nice job for us (in Game 1),” Jared Bednar said of Kuemper on Friday. “On the goals we gave up, we had major breakdowns in front of him. Could he have come up with one? Yeah, maybe. But considering that he hadn’t played since (May 31) I thought he did a really nice job for us. He’s looked sharp in practice and has a lot of confidence.”

Tracking MacKinnon. The Lightning got the up-close view of Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon in Game 1. Playing 22:06, he had one assist and five shots on goal. Might Tampa Bay try to counter even more often with Anthony Cirelli?

“(MacKinnon) has the speed and he’s a big guy so he protects the puck really well and he could beat you in a lot of ways,” Cirelli said. “I think just being aware of where he is on the ice (is a good thing to do) and as a group just trying to slow them down. But they come at you with a lot of speed.”


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