In game five of the NHL Playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche did it again. They were down a goal entering the final minutes and they found a way to tie things up before winning in overtime. It’s the second time this has happened in the series, with the other late game heroics coming in game one. It doesn’t always happen, it didn’t happen in game four, but when the Avs are down a goal or tied up in the third period, I just get a feeling that things will be alright.
For four years under Joe Sacco, the feeling was opposite. If a game was close or the Avs were down with five minutes left, I always got the feeling that the team would blow it in regulation or wouldn’t find the equalizer. And usually, I was right. Avs fans were left heartbroken time after time these last few seasons.
We saw it seemingly every night. A goal in the final five minutes to lose or a poor effort for 50 minutes, followed by a 10 minute push that ultimately failed. There’s a reason why people thought that Paul Stastny “didn’t show up in big games” and there’s a reason why people wanted Semyon Varlamov traded for, “a goalie who can stand on his head and make the big saves.” There was a perception around this team and the players that they weren’t good enough, especially when they needed to be.
Sacco gave us that feeling we have when we’re about to eat Taco Bell. We’d much rather have authentic Mexican food, and even though Taco Bell isn’t bad while you’re eating it, we know it’s going to end terribly in a couple of hours.
Enter Patrick Roy.
We’ve heard all year about how great of a job Roy and the coaching staff have done with this team. And they have. But perhaps the best thing they’ve done is give Avs fans a new feeling at the end of the game. When the team is tied, there is no worry about that late period goal. Everyone will play smart, Varlamov might make a big save, and at worst we’ll see overtime. And if the team is down a goal, we know that Roy will give the boys plenty of time to get at least a chance or two to tie things up. Maybe they won’t tie it up, but at least they’ll have a chance and give fans hope.
Roy gives us that feeling we have when we’re about to eat a $100 choice steak. We get excited because, for that money, we know it better be good. And most of the time it is, and even if it isn’t, how many people can say they have $100 to spend on a steak?
Few things give people the type of feelings that sports do. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, not just game by game, but minute by minute and play by play. It’s a love/hate relationship like no other. And this season, I‘m loving the feelings that the Avalanche has been giving me.