With the Avalanche on hiatus for the next five days, the long, agonizing wait to see how the playoff picture shapes up took its first nasty turn last night. With all of the teams sitting around the Avs in the standings in action, Colorado did not get much help from the spoilers last night. With the cutoff for the Avs at 92, three out of the four teams ahead of the Avalanche only need to win one game to guarantee them a spot ahead of Colorado in the standings.
Tuesday night will be the night that may seal the fate for Colorado with Dallas, San Jose and Phoenix all taking the ice. Tomorrow the Kings skate and sitting at 91 points, only need a point to ensure they are ahead of Colorado come next Sunday. Right now Dallas is the team that Colorado really needs to be rooting for on Tuesday as they take on the Sharks. If the Sharks win, the seal up a playoff spot with 92 points and make the Avalanche’s chances that more slim.
Looking back on the season, we can point out a number of games that could have had a profound effect on the playoff hopes of the Avalanche. Two games that had a direct impact on the standings are the last two games that Colorado dropped against Vancouver at home. The first game came back in February when the Avs were mere seconds away from a sure victory, but Kevin Bieksa tied up the game late and Colorado eventually lost in a shootout. The next was just recently when Colorado had a two goal lead on the Canucks but also lost the game in overtime.
If the Avs would have taken care of the Canucks in regulation, that would account for four more points in favor of the Avalanche right now. Instead of sitting in 11th place with 88 points, the Avs would be in 7th place alone with 92 points. Those games where the Avalanche got comfortable really cost them down the stretch. So even though at the time the games look like a hard fought defeat, when it comes down to crunch time they are vitally important.
Avalanche fans will be glued to the scoreboard Monday and Tuesday nights as the fate of the Avalanche hangs in the balance. Many fans that despise teams will find themselves rooting for that very team in order to help the Avs. There is very little wiggle room for Colorado, but there is still a slim outside chance they make the playoffs.
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