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3 Reasons For Colorado Avalanche Elimination from 2021 NHL Playoffs

After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the Colorado Avalanche lost four straight to the Vegas Golden Knights. Here are 3 main reasons why.

Heading into the 2020-21 season, the Colorado Avalanche were considered one of the heavy favorites throughout the league to have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Those expectations were raised even more after winning the Presidents Trophy for the league’s best regular season team. They came as advertised in the first-round, running over the St. Louis Blues in a series sweep in which they were by far and away the superior team.

The second round started out fantastic for them as well, as they crushed the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1 in Game 1, and were also able to take Game 2. However, the wheels fell off completely after that, as they went on to lose the next four straight and were shockingly eliminated from playoff contention. It is certainly frustrating given that they were up 2-0, and while they will recover from it, it will be a very tough offseason for this squad. Here are the 3 main reasons they failed to advance.

Related: 3 Reasons For Boston Bruins Elimination from 2021 NHL Playoffs

3. Blueline Deficiencies

Throughout the regular season, fans marveled at how impressive the Avalanche blueline was on a night in night out basis. Leading the way was Norris Trophy nominee Cale Makar, however he was far from the only one as guys like Devon Toews and Samuel Girard were incredible themselves. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the same in this series.

While Makar and Toews certainly weren’t themselves, guys like Girard, along with Patrick Nemeth and Connor Timmins really struggled and often appeared overwhelmed by the elite talent the Golden Knights have up front. It was a very disappointing showing for Girard, who had a horrendous final four games in which he recorded a plus/minus of minus 9. He wasn’t anywhere near the player he had been in the regular season and it cost his team, though he was far from the only blueliner who struggled.

2. Grubauer Not in Vezina Form

Philipp Grubauer really had a chance to prove those who questioned his Vezina Trophy candidacy this season wrong in this series. Through the first series, along with Game 1 and 2, he was able to do that. However, his performance in the final three games is causing many to question how good he really is. He allowed a combined 13 goals in the last three games of this series, which simply isn’t good enough.

Philippe Grubauer Colorado Avalanche

Much like Grubauer outplayed Jordan Binnington in the opening round, Marc-Andre Fleury was the far superior netminder in this series. It will lead to a lot of questions for the Avs netminder this summer given that he is without a contract for the 2021-22 season. While his fantastic regular season should earn him a raise, he may have hurt himself with how he played when his team needed him the most. Had he been able to play like he did all season, there is a great chance the Avalanche would have won this series.

1. MacKinnon Shut Down

For most players, having six points in six games would be considered a good stretch of hockey. However, Nathan MacKinnon isn’t most players. After an incredible first round against the Blues, as well as a dominating performance in Game 1 of this series, he appeared a very early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Instead, his play dropped off in shocking fashion.

The Golden Knights did an outstanding job of playing him throughout the series, holding him pointless in three straight games from Game 3 to Game 5. Though he was able to put up two helpers in Game 6, it was too little too late for the superstar forward. While he is far from the only one to blame, a team is only as good as its best player, and MacKinnon simply wasn’t good enough in this series.

Favorites Once Again

This loss will certainly sting for both the Avalanche players and fans for some time. It seemed after going up in this series early many throughout the hockey world were crowning them Stanley Cup Champions, and perhaps that was part of the problem.

The good news here is that this team isn’t going anywhere. With young superstars like MacKinnon, Makar, and Mikko Rantanen, they will remain a contender going forward, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them be able to win it all as soon as next year. As for this year, they can perhaps take solace in the fact that the team who beat them out, one that they appeared to be very even with, could very well go on to win the Stanley Cup. Though that may leave some bitter, it shows just how close this team is to accomplishing the big goal.

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