Colorado Avalanche Set to Make Fans Proud

DENVER, CO - APRIL 18: Gabriel Landeskog (92) of the Colorado Avalanche is introduced before the first period against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. The Colorado Avalanche hosted the Nashville Predators. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 18: Gabriel Landeskog (92) of the Colorado Avalanche is introduced before the first period against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. The Colorado Avalanche hosted the Nashville Predators. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche don’t have very good odds of beating the Nashville Predators tonight. Whatever happens, though, the team will make us proud.

The Colorado Avalanche will visit the Nashville Predators for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. Colorado is down in the series 3-1. That means tonight could be the game that sees their season end.

The Avalanche have not won in Nashville since March 28, 2016. That was their one and only win in the death spiral that saw them lose eight of their last night games and drop right out of the playoffs. Incidentally, it’s the last time they beat the Predators in the regular season.

The Avs are without their starting goalie, Semyon Varlamov, whose season ended with a knee injury. They’re also without their primary backup, Jonathan Bernier, who left Game 4 with a lower body injury. That means they’re starting their backup 2.0, Andrew Hammond, with their fourth stringer, Spencer Martin, as his backup.

Oh, and they’re without their best defenseman, Erik Johnson, whose season ended with a broken patella. They might even be without their second-best rover, rookie Samuel Girard.

Colorado is the youngest team in the NHL and probably the smallest, at least of those still in the playoffs. Last year they recorded the worst record in the expansion era and barely squeaked into the playoffs this year.

In other words, an already Herculean task has been made near-impossible with injuries.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. I have my suspicions. We all do. I do know I’m not ready for the season to end. It’s a little death. To go from rooting for and fighting for your team to… nothingness. This is both the best and the worst time of year.

The Colorado Avalanche players also aren’t ready to give up. Said backup goalie, 2.0, appreciates the character he sees in the locker room. Hammond added:

"“I haven’t played that much, but I’ve been able to see it firsthand. And even last night it would’ve been very easy to kind of fold the tent and move on to the next game, but you saw how we fought until the end and we came really close. It’s just a team where there’s no give-up in them.”"

He’s right. The third period of Game 4 was one of the gutsiest, most heart-driven periods I’ve ever seen the team play. It was easy to be down in Pepsi Center, with my pom pom in my purse while I tweeted my frustration. However the no give-up of the team got us all on our feet cheering the team on.

Alexander Kerfoot in his presser:

"“It’s a tough task ahead of us. But if we take it game by game, we knew we were going to have to win one in Nashville at some point anyway. We’re going there now knowing that we’ve got to win this, and then we’re coming back home.”"

Well, it’s true that the Avalanche players are coming back home one way or another. It will either be to prepare for Game 6 at the Pepsi Center or… to clean out their lockers.

Alternate captain and star Nathan MacKinnon puts it succinctly:

"“We don’t want to end it at all. We’re still in it, it’s not over yet. We can’t win the series if we don’t win Game 5, so we just have to focus on that.”"

MacKinnon is certainly correct. The Colorado Avalanche can’t win the series or even, you know, keep playing this season unless they win Game 5.

It should be no surprise that captain Gabriel Landeskog puts the heart into the situation. After the Game 4 loss at the Pepsi Center, he said the following:

The Colorado Avalanche are the extreme underdogs in the series. Snuck in at the last minute. Injuries. Youngest team in the NHL. Coming off a 48-point season.

Avalanche radio announcer Marc Moser put it best:

I don’t want the Colorado Avalanche season to end. It really is like a small death when the season ends. We spend so much of our time and passion willing our warriors to win just one more battle for our nation, Avs nation.

Next: The Sound of Silence

However, whatever happens tonight, I will be proud of what this team has accomplished. They’ve shown grit and heart and, yes, I’m going to say it, a will to win.

I have always been proud to call the Colorado Avalanche my team. From Cup wins to a 48-point season. It’s all part of the journey, of fandom. But… maybe I’ve never been more proud than now, when they’ve fallen from grace and found a way to claw back.

Go Avs, go.