(CBS4) – The Colorado Avalanche won the Presidents Trophy for the first time since 2001, by beating the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 and finishing with the best regular season record in the NHL. But one former Avalanche player is trying to make sure his old team becomes the second team in three years to win the Presidents Trophy and lose in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to beat them,” said former Avalanche center and St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly.
The first-place Avalanche (39-13-4) host the fourth-place St. Louis Blues (27-20-9) in the first round in the best-of-7 series. O’Reilly is confident the Blues can pull off the upset despite Colorado winning the season series (5-3-0).
“When we’re skating and we’re physical, I think we give them a lot of issues,” O’Reilly told NHL.com. “Whether that’s forecheck or defending. When we play our heavy game and commit to it and put pucks in and don’t feed their rush, we make it tough on them and find ways to beat them. That’s what we’ve got to do. That’s got to be our focus.”
The Blues know they can hang with the top team in hockey. They beat Colorado in the last two regular season games and O’Reilly scored a hat trick in one of the two wins.
“We know that they have a lot of talent over there. They work hard, but for us, it’s an exciting challenge,” he said.
O’Reilly started his career with the Avalanche and played six seasons with them from 2009-2015. After playing three seasons for the Buffalo Sabres, he went to St. Louis where he won the Stanley Cup in 2019. The same year he won the Cup was the last time a Presidents Trophy winner lost in the first round as the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With Game 1 set for Monday at Ball Arena, O’Reilly is hoping for history to repeat itself.
“These games throughout the season, these games have been so intense and so competitive,” O’Reilly told NHL.com. “It’s fun though. It’s going to be an intense battle. I want to beat them bad.”
How the Colorado Avalanche Playoff History as President Trophy Winners
1997 – Lost in Western Conference Finals to Detroit Red Wings (4-2)
2001 – Won Stanley Cup Final over New Jersey Devils (4-3)