Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers responds to questions in the Avs Mailbag periodically during the regular season. Pose an Avalanche- or NHL-related question for the Avs Mailbag.
As we get closer to the playoffs, I’m curious what your thoughts are about the modified regular-season schedule that has seen the Avs play only seven teams, meaning playoff matchups beyond the divisional rounds will be against other strong teams they haven’t seen at all this year. The Avs have certainly looked like the best team in the league over the past few months, but I’m a little worried that their outstanding regular-season record is partially a result of most of their games coming against five teams that they’re just clearly more talented than. Toronto, Tampa, Washington and several others will be much tougher competition. Any concerns that, aside from Vegas and maybe Minnesota, the Avs won’t be tested against other top-tier teams until the final playoff rounds?
— Matthew, Denver
Hey, Matthew, yes the Avs could end up not playing any team outside the West Division if they lose in the first two rounds. I’m still hoping the NHL can tweak the playoffs and allow for cross-bracketing for the second round at least. But I don’t think the Avs will face a tougher team than Vegas at any point. I would think Carolina, Pittsburgh and Boston are up there with the Leafs, Lightning and Caps, in terms of dangerous teams. And St. Louis looked like a Cup-contending last weekend and Minnesota is red-hot.
Given the salary cap and the money situation currently. Is there a realistic possibility of the Avs maybe being able to pick up one of the good goalies that seem to be available, someone like Antti Ranta, Darcy Keumper, or possibly (James) Reimer so that we have a battle-tested backup for Grub for the rest of the season and into our Stanley Cup run this season?
— Frank James, Superior
This question was answered when they added Devan Dubnyk at the trade deadline to be Philipp Grubauer’s primary backup. Good addition!
Hey Mike, how does it feel to have fans back in the stands at Ball Arena? Can you tell a difference in the attitude of players on the ice during games?
— Chad, Littleton
Yes, big time. Huge difference. I never knew 4,000 Avalanche fans in the building could make such a big difference, but everyone who has been to most games this year realizes there is a massive change in atmosphere between no fans and only 22 percent capacity. I hope that number rises soon.
Mike, saw on Twitter there may be rumblings of the Avs moving out to Commerce City with a new arena. What are the odds of this happening? I would not be a fan of having to drive out east for games, I love being downtown.
— Al, LoDo
That will not happen, Al. The owner of the Avalanche and Nuggets also owns Ball Arena, which is an entertainment staple of downtown Denver. You might have heard something about the Avs building a practice rink in Commerce City. I heard that years ago, but it doesn’t make much sense because most of the guys live south of downtown. It would be closer to DIA where the team has a charter.
With Grubauer coming back from an extended period away from being on ice, should we expect much rust from him being out of game shape? How do things look for the Avs heading into the playoffs?
— Adam, Centennial
Grubauer has been working out off-ice and he practiced with the team Tuesday and in Wednesday’s morning skate in Las Vegas. He probably got on the ice again Thursday and coach Jared Bednar said he might play Friday at home against San Jose. Grubauer was also on the NHL’s protocol absence list to begin training camp, but he was ready to go opening night the following week. So all signs point towards his return against San Jose, but perhaps in Saturday’s two-game finale with the Sharks. The fact that he’s been training with the team for nearly a week is a great sign. Bednar said he could have played Wednesday at Vegas but didn’t want to rush him this close to the playoffs.
As for the playoffs, the Avs are a very deep and talented team. So they should be in position to go multiple rounds.
Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers responds to questions in the Avs Mailbag periodically during the regular season.
Pose an Avalanche- or NHL-related question for the Avs Mailbag.
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