The Call

-By AJ Pacheco        

Sports have the ability to create some of the most compelling story lines and this season’s Avalanche are no exception. The Avalanche, to this point, have had the type of season that would make Hollywood screenwriters drool.

So far this season, a bunch of unproven youngsters, with a rookie NHL coach, have defied the odds and now are in playoff contention. Now with only 15 games left to play, the Avalanche must chose how they want their Hollywood season to end, and the plot thickens: behind the Avalanche lurks Nashville, and playoff regulars Calgary and Detroit. Will the Avs answer the call to adventure and hold on to make the playoffs? Or will they be brought back to the real world and watch the playoffs from home?

Yes, the Avalanche are a great success story but they are not without their flaws and shortcomings. All season long the Avalanche have lacked consistency to their game. Far too often they fail to play their game for a whole 60 minutes. The Avalanche have shown great resiliency when trailing but struggle to keep their intensity up when they have a lead. Maybe the inexperience is to blame and if so, the Avalanche must grow up and grow up quick if they want to continue playing on into May.

For better or worse, the Avalanche now play with higher expectations. They were predicted to finish at the bottom of the Western Conference but after the glimpses of greatness we have seen this season, not making the playoffs would be a disappointment. We have seen the Avalanche take care of business against weaker teams like Edmonton, St. Louis, Columbus, and Florida but they still struggle to keep up with teams they will encounter in the postseason. Most of the time the Avalanche seem content in getting a lead and then sitting back and relying on Anderson to win the game. Lately this strategy has really cost them. The Avalanche missed out on points against Detroit and Phoenix last week and because of their collapse against the Canucks Tuesday the division is likely out of reach. Anderson has faced more shots than any other goalie in the NHL and yet the Avs are still winning games. 

If the Avalanche wish to make the playoffs and advance in the playoffs they will have to play with more intensity and hunger. To make the playoffs the Avs are going to have to go out and play to win, rather than playing not to lose. The Avalanche do not have a good enough defense to just sit back when leading and the over-reliance on Anderson has to stop.

         With about a month left, it is too early to tell whether the Avalanche will cap off their season with a playoff berth. A Hollywood movie, of course, would have our boys making the playoffs and going (maybe) all the way. But in the real world, a playoff berth would be enough of a success for this season. The Avalanche have enough speed and talent to play with any team in the NHL and the Avs need to get that through their heads and play like there is no tomorrow because that very well could be the case.          


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