DENVER – Playoff hockey starts Monday night in Denver, as the Avalanche try to keep their 17-game home points streak alive when they host the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. at Ball Arena, which will welcome 7,750 fans after the state approved increased capacity limits for the venue last week.
The top-seeded Avalanche won the Presidents’ Trophy and finished the regular season with 82 points and 39 wins.
They face the Blues, who won their final three games of the season but will be without their top scorer, David Perron, who will miss the game because of COVID protocols, ESPN reported.
The Avs will have Nathan MacKinnon available for Monday’s Game 1 after missing four of the last five games of the regular season and will play on the same line as Avalanche points leader Mikko Rantanen. MacKinnon has 56 points in 40 career playoff games.
Betting lines favor the Avalanche to win the series, but the Blues won 3 of 8 games during the regular season against Colorado.
The Avalanche are 16-0-1 over their last 17 home games and will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs – something Conor McGahey, the voice of the Avalanche for Altitude Sports, says could bode well for a deep playoff run if they can keep winning at home.
“They have the best winning percentage on home ice in club history, overtaking the 2000-01 team. We all know what happened that year. So, home ice is important,” he said. “…That is probably the biggest piece. They love playing at home.”
The health of the team will be key for a long playoff run, McGahey said. Injuries hit the team in their playoff run last year, when they lost in the second round to Dallas, and in 2018, when the Avalanche lost to Nashville in the first round.
Monday night’s matchup will be broadcast on NBCSN and Altitude.