Colorado Avalanche: 5 Takeaways from Wild vs. Blackhawks


The hate was flowing Thursday night. Not between Chicago and Minnesota, but between Minnesota and Colorado. Why? Because even though one team made the playoffs this year, while the other didn’t, the two fanbases just don’t like each other and will continue to not like each other for the foreseeable future. So what did the Colorado Avalanche learn from Minnesota’s playoff exit? A whole lot actually.

Minnesota Wild eliminated in four games by the Chicago Blackhawks

*Takeaway #1 for the Avalanche: At least you’re not Minnesota.

Wild fans like to brag about making the playoffs and eliminating the Avs last year and making the playoffs again this year. Avalanche fans like to brag about two Stanley Cup rings. I’ll let you decide which is better. Wild fans like to accuse Avalanche fans of living in the past. Avalanche fans welcome that accusation because at least we have a past worth remembering.

For the past couple of seasons, Minnesota has spent big money on big free agents. It’s all amounted into three straight postseason losses to the Blackhawks. So even though the Avs have missed the playoffs two out of the last three seasons and Minnesota eliminated Colorado in the one season they did make the playoffs, at least one team doesn’t completely own us. And there’s no shame in losing to the Blackhawks, but they don’t even have four wins in three series against them. Chicago should just get a bye in the playoffs if they’re matched up against the Wild from here on out.

*Takeaway #2 for the Avalanche: Chicago is the model. 

For years Chicago has been the model of success in the Western Conference. They’ve been forced to make changes throughout their roster over the years, but their core has been together during this near dynasty run and they’ve always found replacement pieces.

Every team should follow the Blackhawks model, especially the Avs. Colorado has a strong core with Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon up front, Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie on the blueline, and Semyon Varlamov in the net. They just need to find the right pieces to go around them. I think they are well on their way to doing so, but that’s yet to be proven.

More from Avalanche News

*Takeaway #3 for the Avalanche: Minnesota is not the model.

As mentioned above, Minnesota likes to go out and spend a bunch of money on free agents. This past year they signed Thomas Vanek to a three-year deal worth $6.5 million per season. He had four points in 10 playoff games this year.

They were so desperate for goaltending that they went out and banked on cast-off Devan Dubnyk. It worked, but then they ran him into the ground. Now they’ll pay him a ton of money in the offseason, hoping he can re-create what he did this past year, but he’ll ultimately fail because it’s going to be extremely tough to post a winning percentage of 69% with a 1.78 GAA, especially when you’ve just been paid handsomely.

The Wild do some things right, I can’t really think of any right now, but I’m sure they’ve done something right in the history of their franchise. You don’t make the playoffs on a consistent basis by accident. But they’re currently stuck in neutral, over-paying for older talent that isn’t getting them anywhere in the playoffs while losing out on draft picks that they could develop.

*Takeaway #4 for the Avalanche: Stars must shine

In any playoff series, you need your top players to be at their best. Patrick Kane was the best player on the ice for either team while Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were consistent as usual. As for Minnesota, well, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Mikko Koivu combined for seven points.

Takeaway #5 for the Avalanche: Don’t run your goalie into the ground

The Wild traded for Dubnyk on January 15. He then started 38 straight regular season games before getting a rest in the second to last game of the season. He got one game off, started the final game of the season, and then played in every playoff game. To say he was tired would be an understatement. Patrick Roy likes his starter to be around 60 games. Dubnyk would’ve been around 79 games with the way Mike Yeo was playing him.

Next: What the Avs Can Learn from 1st Round Playoff Losses

More from Mile High Sticking