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NHL - US Sports: Avalanche focussed on solving cup puzzle

Defenceman Cale Makar says the Colorado Avalanche are confident that they can solve the Stanley Cup puzzle which has eluded them in recent seasons.

The Avalanche, 7/2 to be crowned Stanley Cup Champions, will take on the Nashville Predators in the first-round of the post-season with the best-of-seven series beginning on Tuesday.

Playoff progress needed

23-year-old Makar is set to enter a fourth playoff campaign with Colorado after being drafted fourth overall in the 2017 NHL draft.

In each season so far, the well-fancied Avalanche have failed to make it past the second round, a pressure which Makar believes they are equipped to overcome this time around.

Makar led all defenceman with 28 goals in the regular season as the Avalanche won the Central Division with a 56-19-7 record. His 86 total points were second behind Nashville's Roman Josi (96).

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Strong seasonal form

With their playoff place secure, and a number of franchise records set, including wins (56) and home victories (32), Colorado took the opportunity to rest a number of their key players and went 1-5-1 in their last seven regular-season games.

In doing so, they allowed the Florida Panthers to claim the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best regular season team, an award they won last year but was no consolation as they fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in the playoffs.

Colorado went 1-1-2 against the Predators in the regular season.

Makar said to the media: "Obviously it's right there in front of us. We have to be ready. We've been on a little bit of a not-so-hot streak here, but at the same time, I still think the confidence in the group is very high.

"We know what we're capable of. It's just putting all those pieces together. We're definitely really excited."

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