Underdog Coyotes embrace opportunity against Avalanche

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Colorado sat second in the Western Conference when the league postponed action in mid-March, thus clinching an automatic berth to the playoffs, and then netted the second seed in the four-team round-robin warm-up tournament.

“I liked our intensity through (the round robin),” coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought it got better a little bit as it went on. I think it’s hard to simulate playoffs, it really is. It is why we tried to give our team something tangible to go after and have a short-term goal and that was winning the West and getting home-ice advantage.”

The series will certainly be a contrast of styles. The Coyotes, even with a couple of high-scoring forwards in Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel, are a defense-first squad, while the Avalanche are among the league’s highest-scoring clubs.

“They check, they play the right way. They have a clear-cut identity of their own that they are going to play to I am guessing regardless of opponent, and same thing with us,” Bednar said. “We are going to play to our strengths and keep doing exactly what we have been doing all year long.

Certainly the Avalanche have an advantage of playoff experience, with essentially the same team that reached the second round in last year’s playoffs.

“With experience you feel better and better,” forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “I think for everyone in our group, every year you play in the NHL you realize you don’t have many chances and for me this feels like my first real chance to win, which really excites me and I think it excites everyone. This is my fourth playoffs now and third straight obviously with everyone else, but I feel good and hopefully I can be a key guy in the first round.”

–Field Level Media