By Justin Adams

DENVER (CBS4)– For the last two seasons the Colorado Avalanche had to scratch and claw their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the final seed. Now they go into the postseason with expectations of making a long playoff run as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and Nathan Mackinnon wants to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“Every year you’re playing 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,” MacKinnon said.

(Credit: CBS)

Nathan Mackinnon will be playing in his fourth postseason with the Avalanche. Last year, they were eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals. The loss served as an extra sense of motivation for MacKinnon and his teammates.

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“You know, we’re just a hungry team that feels like we have a lot to prove,” MacKinnon said.

The First-Round opponent will be the No. 7 seeded Arizona Coyotes in the best-of-seven series. The Avs and Coyotes split both regular season meetings and are led by goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who had a .933 save percentage on an NHL-high 163 shots in the qualification round win over the Nashville Predators. It will be the first time Arizona has advances to the postseason since 2012.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 07: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 07, 2020 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Avalanche 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

“There is going to have to be a high level of determination because (Arizona), 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. We are going to play to our strengths and keep doing exactly what we have been doing all year long,” Avs head coach Jared Bednar said.

The Avalanche will also play former teammate Carl Soderburg who played four seasons with the Avs and had a career-high 23 goals with the team last year.

“Obviously, I’m sure he’s giving his team some information on us and things like that. We play ex-teammates all the time. It will be a really good challenge but hopefully we can beat him here,” MacKinnon said.

Home ice won’t be an available since all of the games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. As the playoffs begin, the Hart Trophy finalist for NHL’s MVP looks to be the focal point of the first round series.

“Personally, I feel comfortable. 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.”

First Round Playoff Schedule: #2 Colorado Avalanche vs #7 Arizona Coyotes
Game 1: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 3:30 p.m.
Game 2: Friday, Aug. 14, 12 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, Aug. 15, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Monday, Aug. 17, 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: *Wednesday, Aug. 19, TBD
Game 6: *Friday, Aug. 21, TBD
Game 7: *Sunday, Aug. 23, TBD
*If necessary

Justin Adams

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