The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Friday night in a series that has see-sawed.
“I’m not one that really believes that during a playoff series that a lot of momentum carries from one game to the next,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said after the morning skate Sunday. “I truly believe you have to create your own momentum each night. This series has gone back and forth, no team has won more than two games in a row. I guess it’s not a real surprise that we’re here in Game-7 now, I don’t believe it matters how you got here.”
“If you can’t get up for a Game-7 there’s something wrong with you,” Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said Sunday morning. “For us tonight it’s just focusing on the basics, just going from there, not gonna focus on the external factors for sure.”
There are plenty of external factors to ignore.
Top-6 winger Valeri Nichushkin left the team prior to Game-3 following a late night incident in his Seattle hotel room when an intoxicated Russian woman was taken to the hospital via ambulance. There were no criminal elements and Nichushkin is not being held out as a disciplinary measure. He’s gone for personal reasons.
One would think that if the Avalanche win Game-7 against the Kraken, Nichushkin could return for round-2 as he is welcome to do so.
Makar himself was a part of a sideshow, lustily booed every time he touched the puck during games at Climate Pledge Arena after his late hit on Jared McCann in Game-4 led to “Canner” missing the rest of the series for Seattle due to injury and Makar missing Game-5 due to suspension.
Makar tallied two assists in Game-6.
The most recent distraction, or maybe an inspiration for the Avalanche was the announcement on Saturday that veteran forward Andrew Cogliano would miss the rest of the playoffs due to a fractured vertebrae in his neck following a shove from behind into the side boards by Kraken forward Jordan Eberle late in the second period of Game-6.
“It’s a fast play, it’s really tough, everyone knows my game, you never want to injure a guy, especially a guy you played with and respect,” Eberle said Sunday morning, “Obviously the way that the puck and the way he went in, you’re just trying to battle for a puck and it’s unfortunate the way it ended.”
Eberle played his rookie season in 2010-’11 with Cogliano as a teammate with the Edmonton Oilers.
“Tough guy to miss, on the ice, off the ice,” Colorado center J.T. Compher told NHL.com. “What an animal, eh? He comes back in that game. But not surprised at all. We love him. We love everything he brings on the ice, off the ice, as a guy, so we’ll miss him. But obviously he left it all out there for us, and we’re going to try to do the same for him tonight.”
Kraken Birthday Boy
McCann’s Kraken roster replacement, rookie forward Tye Kartye, who scored a goal in Game-4, his first NHL game of any kind, celebrates his 22nd birthday on Sunday. No need to mention what he’s hoping for in terms of a gift. Another goal would be nice, a win for the Kraken would be even bigger.
“I just see a kid who’s kind of beyond his years,” Hakstol said Sunday. “He handles everything very well, he’s got a great presence about him, he’s comfortable with the situation, and he’s shown that on the ice, he’s done a nice job. Obviously the stakes get a little bit higher tonight, we’ll see how he reacts in that situation in his third game, but he’s got good people around him, right, he’s in that room with some good veteran players around him.”
Puck drop Sunday evening is a little after 6:30 pm pacific at the Ball Arena in Denver.
Basic Tale of the Tape
— Both teams are 2-and-1 on the road in the series.
— The Kraken power play has the edge thus far, converting 14.3% of the time compared to just 5.9% for the Avalanche.
— Mikko Rantanen leads Colorado with six goals and nine points. Justin Schultz and Jaden Schwartz lead Seattle with five points each.
— Philipp Grubauer has a 91.9% save percentage for the Kraken; Alexandar Georgiev 91.3% for the Avalanche.
— Colorado and Seattle have both scored 18 non-empty net goals in the series. The Avalanche have 2 empty-netters.