The end of the season for the Colorado Avalanche was prolonged longer than normal in April, but it finished up in a 5-4 OT Game 7 defeat by the Minnesota Wild Wednesday night.
Colorado had home ice which I figured after the first two losses in St. Paul would be the difference maker for the Avs ability to remain in the playoffs another round. On Wednesday night the Wild took away that advantage four times. The Avs had the lead or were tied four time, and in overtime the Avs lost the lead for good.
Today they will clean out their lockers and join the other first round losers on the golf course.
It was a thud of an ending as the Avs played one of their more inspired games since the first two wins at home, but the Wild showed up to prove why they powered their way into the wild card. I can’t fault the Wild’s play in the end, their tough and physical play won the series for them. The Avs unfortunately let their faults prove they couldn’t hang tough and sadly are among the rest of Denver sports teams that play well but are ultimately soft in the end.
The Denver Broncos broke records during the NFL season with quarterback Peyton Manning, who puts up “Star Wars numbers” –as Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay described them- but fell way short in the Super Bowl, losing to the Seattle Seahawks feisty, gritty defense 43-8.
The Wild were just like the Seahawks: tough, physical and in-your-face. They were in the end too much to handle for the finesse Avs.
An improbable worst to first finish was spearheaded by Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy in their respective roles as the twin headed braintrust running the hockey club for owner and president Josh Kroenke. Behind the Avs Central Division championship was Semyon Varlamov, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender.
Varlamov’s playoff series wasn’t his best performances. He had some amazing games, especially in Minnesota, but Game 7 was not a highlight reel night for him. He faces 231 shots in the series, giving up 20. His .931 save average is impressive, but Game 7 was a letdown that cost the Avs the chance to advance.
Varlamov isn’t totally to blame, the Avs blue line is still the weakest aspect of the team and one that will surely see a shakeup this offseason. No way Sakic and Roy leave that untouched, and just like the Broncos the Avs will return to play next season with a tougher defensive corps.
The ending may have not been sweet, but the ride to it was amazing. I knew with the changing of the guard, the drafting of Nathan MacKinnon and free agency acquisitions that the Avs would be a much improved team, but I did not expect a first place finish in the division and a seven game series. I would’ve been happy with .500 and a wild card appearance would’ve been great.
The Avs 2013-14 season was still a resounding success despite losing in the first round.
I can’t wait to see them back on the ice again later this fall.