Division Rivals: Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild


Was there anything more frustrating last season than watching the Colorado Avalanche get shut down by the Minnesota Wild in the much-heralded season opener? Oh, yes, watching the Colorado Avalanche get shut down at home by the Minnesota Wild two days later. Seeing them get shut out again at the beginning of February and beat at the end of February was no walk in the park either.

On the bright side, seeing the Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild in their final game of the series was all the sweeter for being so long delayed.

October 9, 2011

When Avalanche fans asked across social media, “Is it October yet?” it was this game we were thinking of. The Minnesota Wild had beaten the Avs at all their home games and finally taken Game 7 to eliminate Colorado from the playoffs.

Instead the young Avalanche allowed nervousness to get in the way. They started a pattern for the season in only getting 16 shots on goal while allowing a stupid 48. Goalie Semyon Varlamov allowed five goals in 38 shots to be replaced with Reto Berra in the third. Berra was perfect, stopping all 10 shots he faced, but it didn’t matter. The Avs didn’t get a single goal and lost 5-0.

October 11, 2014

Ok, we all implemented the Cinderella Rule — no fretting after midnight of game day — and looked forward to the home opener all the more. The Wild had kept shutting the Avs down in Xcel Energy Center, but Colorado used home ice to their advantage.

While the Avalanche certainly put forth a better effort in the game — getting 30 shots on goal while “limiting” the Wild to 33 — they still got shut out. The penalty-riddled game was one of the most frustrating games I personally ever watched the Avs play in person — and I once saw them get blown out 9-2. I was also at the Anaheim Ducks game last season in which they blew a three-goal lead to eventually lose. Oh, yes, and just like in that game, my personal favorite player, Erik Johnson, got ejected for what turned out to be slapping Wild forward Erik Haula’s face.

The Avs lost at home 3-0. Needless to say, that season opener was a lot tougher to shake off.

February 7, 2015

We all wanted justice when the Avs visited the Wild again in February. Colorado had seemed to get over their shaky start. They stated they understood the importance of the February games. And they owed us a Grade-A, 60-minute effort.

Instead, the Avs tried their patented “Let’s not play until the final minutes of the game” routine. Yet their sustained pressure in the final couple minutes of regulation weren’t enough to get one past the new Wild hero, goalie Devan Dubnyk. Oh, how we hated that name — even though we only had to hear it 18 times that game. That’s all the shots the Avs got to Dubnyk. Varlamov was a big star of the game, stopping 28 of 29 shots. But the Avs fell 1-0.

Oct 11, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) checks Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula (56) into the boards in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado had not scored a goal against the Wild in three whole games. Hate for Minny grew.

February 28, 2015

This game was a cruel jest. The Colorado Avalanche were the better team that night at home. They got more shots on goal than Minnesota, and a lot of them were quality chances. Goalie Semyon Varlamov maybe wasn’t quite as tight as we would want him to be, but surely the Avs were due.

Sure, the Colorado Avalanche finally got a goal against Minnesota, a flukey sweep-in when the puck got caught in goalie Devan Dubnyk’s pads. Not exactly the victory we were hoping for. It wasn’t a victory at all, with the Avs losing 3-1.

This was the game that saw both Gabriel Landeskog and Cody McLeod get ejected for misconduct penalties, McLeod for rushing Mikael Granlund and Landeskog for punching Mikko Koivu in the face. (Boy, that felt good! Goonishly so, but.. it’s all we had to then). Both had to pay fines. Oh, that was also the game in which a female Wild fan sucker-punched a male Avalanche fan then tried to hide behind her gender.

Avs Nation hated the Wild and Wild fans with a passion bordering on psychotic.

March 8, 2015

On March 8, 2015, the Colorado Avalanche finally beat the Minnesota Wild. Cody McLeod fought former Avalanche Chris Stewart to relieve the tension of the game. The Avs went up early by scoring a goal in each period. They even scored a power play goal!

And Gabriel Landeskog was the hero of the game, having scored that power play goal and earning an assist on another goal. His power play effort was the game winner. It wasn’t a blow out — the socre was 3-2 Avalanche, but we were happy with it. The Minnesota Wild didn’t need to be in our heads any longer.

Personally, I still hate them, though.


Those first two games definitely got in the Colorado Avalanche players’ heads. Frankly, those losses — and the miserable play that caused them — set a tone for the first part of the season the Avalanche struggled to transcend. The two February games were results of that sticky, defensive style of hockey the Wild love to play.

The March game was Avalanche hockey. The Avs got shots on net. They played a physical game without taking a ton of penalties. The Avalanche can build on that game and even on the February 28 game, minus the rough stuff.


Hopefully by the time the Avs face the Wild again, the sting of all those shut outs and losses will have long since faded. Hopefully they can avoid the nervousness that led to the disaster of those first two games. They have to if they want to prevail against Minnesota — and we all want them to prevail against Minnesota.

As exciting as the rough games are, they don’t serve the Colorado Avalanche’s record. Colorado needs to be disciplined against Minnesota. They also need to force their game on the Wild. Minnesota likes to say they play fast, offense-minded hockey, but they hide behind cloggy defense. The Chicago Blackhawks have shown what happens when the Wild are actually introduced to fast, offense-minded hockey. The Avs are built similarly — they should capitalize on that style.

Colorado playing Avalanche hockey is just the ticket to beat the Minnesota Wild.

Next: TBT: Avs Beat the Wild

Next: Criminal Minds Investigate Minnesota Wild

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