The Second Season

Alas the Avalanche have made the playoffs! Quite an accomplishment for the young team and quite the turn-around from a season ago. This season's success would likely be a bigger deal if not for the Phoenix Coyotes in the eyes of the NHL but none the less great job by the Avs. 

With that said this is the playoffs. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are probably the toughest postseason in all of sports. The playoffs are 4 rounds (same as basketball but much more physical) and last almost 2 months. The Avalanche are surely underdogs going into the postseason and it doesn't help that they, more or less, limped into the playoffs. However, the Avalanche have plenty in their favor despite being the 8th seed in the West. 
First, off they are very fortunate that they face San Jose and not Chicago. Yes, the Sharks finished first in the West but it is a much better matchup for the Avalanche. Chicago is loaded with young scorers like the Avalanche and while the Avalanche are very good playing breakout hockey they aren't so good defending against it. Chicago is too fast and talented for the Avalanche to handle. That's not to sell the Sharks short. The top line of Heatley, Marleau and Thornton was one of the best lines in the NHL in the regular season combining for 254 points. They were so good they were kept together on the same line for Team Canada in the Olympics. The Sharks are a big team with lots of playoff experience but the speed of the Avalanche could be the key for an upset.
Second, and probably most important is the fact the Avalanche go into the playoffs with no expectations. This season has already been a success. They were picked to finish dead last in the West at the beginning of the season by most analysts but they have already silenced those critics by making the playoffs. As far as expectations go, the Avalanche are just happy to be in the playoffs and even if they are knocked off early they still gain valuable postseason experience. The lack of expectations makes the Avalanche a dangerous team. They have no pressure to worry about and nothing to lose. Their opponent however, is the exact opposite. The Sharks have a reputation for being playoff-chokers and the pressure for them to make it to the finals is huge. Another early exit and they may brought back to rebuild mode. 

The challenge is huge for this young Avs team but it will be fun to see what these kids can do in the postseason. Having nothing to lose makes them dangerous but they are still much like a freshman on the first day of high school compared to teams like the Red Wings, Sharks, and Devils. They are certainly huge underdogs but it is nice to know you have somethings going for you when you are an 8 seed. Good Luck!

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