Have the Colorado Avalanche blown their chance to compete for the Northwest Division title? With Tuesday's come-from-ahead loss to the rival Vancouver Canucks the Avs fell to four points below the Canucks with 16 games remaining in the regular season. (The Canucks got a point for an overtime loss in Phoenix on Wednesday, making their lead 5 points over Colorado).
While not mathematically eliminated, the Avalanche need some help from the Canucks opponents if they have any chance to win the division and gaining home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Vancouver has the easier remaining schedule. Due to a 14 game road trip caused by the Winter Olympics, the Canucks will have 10 home games and only 5 road games left as of March 11th. The Avs have 8 home games and 8 road games remaining.
On paper, the Canucks have the easier schedule, starting a 5 game home stand Saturday. They have three games remaining against Western Conference leader San Jose, two against fourth place Phoenix and two against division rival Calgary.
On paper, the Avs schedule does them no favors. They play San Jose twice, the LA Kings three times, Phoenix once and have one game left against Western Conference co-leader Chicago.
The Avs and Canucks meet one more time, April 6th in Vancouver.
After Tuesday's loss the Avs need to focus on finishing in the top 8 in the conference to make the playoffs. Colorado, Nashville, Calgary and Detroit are fighting for the final three playoff soots and are separated by only six points.
That the Avs are in the playoff hunt at all is surprising. 'Virtually every pre-season prediction had them 14th in the 15 team Western Conference. Despite such low expectations, it would be a huge disappointment to Avs fans for their team to be in playoff/division title chase this far into the season and then fall short of the postseason.