Avalanche Coyotes Hockey

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, top, signals for his goalie to come off the ice as he stands behind players during a March 3 game in Glendale, Ariz.

DENVER • Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was quick to answer when asked what kind of challenge his team will face in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Blues. 

"Tough test," Bednar said Friday with a smile. "They're deep. They're extremely deep. I mean, numbers show it — 109 points, finished the year 14-2-1, eight 20-goal guys, top special teams in the league. All of it. Everything makes it a tough test."

Colorado's opponent was officially set Thursday night when the Blues closed out the Wild in Game 6 of their series. The Avs are coming off a sweep of the Predators in the first round, finishing off Nashville on Monday. The date of Game 1 between the Avalanche and Blues has to be determined. 

But while the Avalanche wait for their second-round schedule to be announced, they'll spend their time studying their tough test, taking Saturday off and getting back on the ice Sunday, with anticipation that the series will start Monday or Tuesday. 

"Now we know our opponent; we'll be digging in as coaches," Bednar said. "They're getting a day off (Saturday). It's two days of good practice and that gives us time to get all of our prep work done and start meeting Sunday, and then we'll hit the ice with a more clear focus of what we've got to do."

One of the Avalanche's focuses will be slowing the Blues' offense, one of the best units in the NHL this season. Unlike the Predators, which only had one line that was a threat offensively, Bednar said, the Blues have three lines at minimum. The Blues also have a top power-play unit, scoring 30.8% of the time this postseason, third-best in the league. 

"They're tough to play against," Bednar said. "They take away all your time and space, and then if you make mistakes and try to push the limits with your puck play and don't manage the puck properly, they'll make you pay. Like I said, eight 20-goal guys. And they're deep and their top three lines are scoring every night.

"It's going to be a tougher task. Guys are going to have to play. We don't have any time for guys not to be sharp and not to be on their game. If they aren't, we'll put someone else in."

The Avalanche are deep in their own right, with Bednar saying it's his deepest team he's had during his six seasons in Colorado. 

And the Avs, while not taking the Blues lightly — especially since they haven't advanced past the second round since 2002 — know if they play to their standard, they are one of, if not the best team in the NHL. 

"Obviously, (the Blues) have a really good team. Everybody at this point has a lot of depth and plays hard," Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram said. "But I mean, we have a really good team, as well. A lot of depth. We have a lot of guys who can play anyone where in the lineup. I like the matchup. I think it's going to be an awesome series. It's going to be a great test for our team."

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