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The Colorado Avalanche ‘Should’ Still Be Playing

from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,

Here's the ultimate compliment to what the Avalanche — ownership, management, coaching staff and players — accomplished this season: The regional reaction to a first-round playoff loss is mass disappointment.

And it should be. That's a compliment too.

Letting the Avalanche off the hook for the seven-game loss to Minnesota diminishes the stunning progress the franchise made in 2013-14. The talk this morning should be of how the Avalanche stands after the first two games of the Western Conference semifinal series at home against the Blackhawks, heading into the next two games at Chicago's United Center.

The fact that I'm able to speak of what should have been, rather than make this some starry-eyed reference to what might have been, acknowledges not just the magnitude of the turnaround, but also the "Stanley Cup attitude" Patrick Roy cited when he was introduced as coach last year.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The fact that, by-and-large, the Avalanche fanbase is a brand new crop of people thanks to the management and ownership tactics which drove off much of their fanbase prior to this “revival” and therefore aren’t really savvy enough to recognize that their team was a paper tiger to begin with isn’t really the monument to the accomplishment that Terry Frei thinks.

It’s a monument to Avalanche ownership proving that flash sells as well as function.

The reason to feel disappointment over Colorado’s failure to earn the right to get stomped by Chicago is that they lost to Minnesota, nothing more. This isn’t about “Stanley Cup Attitude”, it’s about that the team was a paper tiger and they got exposed by what is now the weakest team remaining in the playoffs by a fair margin.

Yeah, the Avalanche “should” still be playing, but that’s not because they’re one of the eight best teams in the league (because they aren’t). They’re not being left off the hook because they dropped a series where they had a home ice advantage over a team that also isn’t one of the eight best.

In a way, it’s good for the business but potentially damaging to the team to have gotten “this close” in that series because the fans are going to go on believing that the Avs don’t need as much improvement as they actually do. If management gets that same idea, then their collapse will be hilarious.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/05/14 at 10:21 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

I have to disagree. The difference between this season and last for the Avs is night and day. I won’t say it’s due to their headcase coach and his attitude, but by the talent assembled who really played as a team. The Avs won a lot of games this season, and they’re in the tougher conference. That’s an accomplishment. But really this might be a case of addition by subtraction. Not having Joe Sacco is a good start. Not having to depend on Chris Stewart as the key power forward is good as well. The Avs have a lot of good pieces in place that are working together.

I dislike the team, but they’re getting better. Flash might sell, but flash without winning won’t keep people in seats. Flash alone won’t get anyone into the postseason.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/05/14 at 11:29 AM ET

Avatar

Have to agree with J.J. here.  The Avs aren’t a bad team because they do have a lot of young offensive talent, but advance metrics show a team that was playing (and winning) over their head all year.  When the teams around you in the advanced stats are Calgary, Edmonton, Buffalo, and Toronto you should be concerned.

Sure there’s accomplishment in what Colorado did this year, but that loss to Minny should be a wake up call for how much work they still have to do.  They can’t count on Varlomov to have another great year next year, and they certainly shouldn’t count on winning 35 games in which they were out shot.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 05/05/14 at 12:10 PM ET

igrover's avatar

And once again we see the “born on third base” attitude of Dives fans and local sports writers.  Heck, when the playoffs started even the local news station had to run a Hockey 101 primer for fans because it “had been so long since they were in the playoffs and some fans would need a refresher on the rules”.

Posted by igrover on 05/05/14 at 12:32 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

The point of the article wasn’t that the dive are good, but that they are better to the point where they were in contention until a game 7 in the postseason. Last year they were a draft lottery team with the first pick.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 05/05/14 at 12:41 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I dislike the team, but they’re getting better. Flash might sell, but flash without winning won’t keep people in seats. Flash alone won’t get anyone into the postseason.

Yeah, flash will get you into the postseason and if Avs fans think that they’re that close to seriously competing with a team that got unsustainably good goaltending while also shooting at substantially higher percentage than the rest of the league, then they’re insane.

The Avs did improve, but the level of improvement from draft lottery team to a club that should actually have postseason expectations like Terry Frei is hinting at here is based on performances that are simply not consistently repeatable.

The Avs were in contention until Game 7 solely because of their first round opponent.  Any one of the other six teams in the West as a first round opponent and the Avs are toast before it gets that far.

Frei is basing this rose-tinted look at a fanbase “not letting them off easy” for blowing a winnable series as something much more promising than it actually is.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/05/14 at 12:54 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Two years ago the Avs had a bunch of injures and some other things go fairly wrong.

This year they didn’t really have injuries (1 of 9 teams that had less than 200 games lost total, and 10th-lowest in CHIP), and also had some remarkably-good luck.

As is often in the case of such things, the truth is probably found in the middle.  As JJ notes, the Avs aren’t THAT good to be completely crushed by dropping a 1st round series they could have won but didn’t.  ANd yes, the Hawks would have completely annihilated them.

That blueline is still awful, as is the forward depth IMO.  Most likely next season finds them simply struggling to make the playoffs again as some of that good fortune goes away.

Posted by Primis on 05/05/14 at 01:03 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

quote]And once again we see the “born on third base” attitude of Dives fans and local sports writers.  Heck, when the playoffs started even the local news station had to run a Hockey 101 primer for fans because it “had been so long since they were in the playoffs and some fans would need a refresher on the rules”.

The same can be said of Slackhawk and Penqueen fans. lol

Posted by bigfrog on 05/05/14 at 10:17 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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