With the NHL TV schedule to be released at 2pm ET today I thought I’d have the first of the Mile High Top 5s with a look back at the Av’s Top 5 seasons.
5) 1998-99: A season where the Avalanche had a perfect mix of offense and defense and a load of grit the Avalanche once again won the Pacific division and rebound from a disappointing result from the season before with a trip to the Western Conference finals. Unfortunately the Dallas Stars defeated the Avalanche in 7 games to go on to the Stanley Cup, which they won. More unfortunate would be the Avalanche meeting the same fate the following year.
4) 2001-02: The best season in terms of goals allowed, 169, this season may be more remembered for the playoffs than anything else. The Avalanche were unable to make it to the finals but played in three playoff series in 2002, all of which went 7 games. After defeating the Kings and Sharks the Avalanche were unable to top the Red Wings in 7 games. The Avalanche-Red Wings series lives in infamy for Avalanche fans as the Avalanche were defeated 7-0 in game 7.
3) 1996-97: Following the Avs first year in Colorado, more on that next, the Avalanche put up a new high in wins and points for a season and went into the playoffs as the #1 overall seed. In the conference finals verse Detroit the Avalanche and Red Wings exchanged 6-0 victories in games 4 and 5, but the Wings took the series in game 6. As it stands to this day the Avalanche have lost in the conference finals 4 times with two losses to the Stars and two to the Red Wings.
2) 1995-96: No better way to put this season than magic. After spending dreadful years in Quebec the Nordiques picked up and moved to Colorado where they would become the Avalanche led by a young Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. They would acquire Patrick Roy from the MTL Canadiens after an infamous game Roy had, which was the remaining piece of the puzzle. The Avalanche defeated each of their 3 western conference opponents 4-2 and in one of the most lopsided Stanley Cup Finals ever the Avalanche made quick work of the Florida Panthers defeating them 4-0. It seems almost impossible to top the magic unless you have magic named Raymond Bourque.
1) 2000-2001: After two straight conference finals losses to the Dallas Stars the 2000-01 Avalanche were looking to take the next step. They finished the season as the number one overall seed setting franchise highs, which still stand, in wins and points, 52 and 118. The Avalanche route to the Cup Finals was a 4-0 win over Vancouver, and 4-3 win over the Blackhawks, and a 4-1 win over the Blues, setting up a Roy vs Brodeur Stanley Cup as the Avs met the Devils. The big story for the Avalanche was would Raymond Bourque, who the Avalanche acquire the season prior from Boston, capture his first ever Cup in his 22nd season. The series could not have been much more exciting going 7 games with neither team ever having more than a one game lead in the series. Game 7 was in Colorado after the Avalanche saved themselves from elimination with a 4-0 road win in games 6. What the home fans got to see was the greatest Avalanche team ever win the Cup and Raymond Bourque was the first to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head.
*Just Missed*: 2002-03: The Avs put up an outstanding 105 points but a first round exit from the playoffs at the hands of Andrew Brunette and the Minnesota Wild killed any dreams of this being one of the top Avs teams.