Colorado Avalanche Ready to Gut it Out at Home

DENVER, CO - APRIL 18: Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog
DENVER, CO - APRIL 18: Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog /

The Colorado Avalanche are ready to leave their copious guts out on the ice in Game 6 at Pepsi Center, led by captain Gabriel Landeskog.

“We don’t want to lose two in a row here at the Pepsi Center.” ~

Gabriel Landeskog

The Colorado Avalanche are facing elimination. But that’s not exactly a surprise — they faced elimination last game in Nashville and forced a Game 6 with a thrilling last-minute win. They were facing elimination in Game 82 of the regular season when they hosted the St. Louis Blues.

Hells, they’ve been facing elimination for weeks now. It must be old hat for them by now.

According to the captain, Gabriel Landeskog, that’s partially it in a nutshell:

"“We’ve got nothing to lose. We don’t have any more pressure on ourselves than what we put on ourselves.”"

The Colorado Avalanche seem to have put a lot of pressure on themselves. During the preseason media day, alternate captain Nathan Mackinnon was already declaring their goal was to make the playoffs:

Now, probably most teams pay the same lip service whether it’s feasible or not. However, I daresay most players fail to say it with such unadorned conviction — nor do they personally go on to ensure it comes true.

And that pressure that they’ve put on themselves, has led them to the playoffs.

All this season, Avs players have talked about the character in the room. The team has really found some chemistry, which was sorely lacking last year. Landeskog attributes that team character and chemistry at least partly to the team’s youth. When it comes to the grand stage of the playoffs, he sees youth coming into play in a positive manner: “Maybe some guys don’t realize the size of the moment.”

Watching Tyson Jost‘s and Alexander Kerfoot‘s faces before Game 5, I think they have a pretty good inkling of the size of the moment. And poor Mikko Rantanen was almost enucleated by his own linemate, MacKinnon:

Yes, they have some idea of the importance of the games they’re playing. That said, Landeskog is right in that maybe they’re too young to be afraid of the enormity of the moments.

The captain, on the other hand, has had a different experience:

"“For me personally, missing the post-season a handful of years now, you know how hard it is at this point to get to the playoffs. You just want to make sure you leave it all out there. And that can be said for a lot of guys in our dressing room.”"

This is only Landeskog’s second post-season in seven seasons. That amounts to 12 games. However, in those 12 games he has 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists). In the five games of this series he has 4 goals and 3 assists. Our captain has stepped up.

Predators center Austin Watson is feeling the frustration, even if he’s not admitting it. In his post-practice presser, he remarks on the feeling of losing late in Game 5:

"“It’s hockey. Look, there’s another team out there. I don’t know if you guys see that. They’re playing pretty well. They capitalized on a couple chances after we scored, and we’re going back to Denver for Game 6.”"

Watch the video itself — Watson is feeling pretty pissy (0:47 mark):

Side note: I hope the Avalanche showed this in their game meetings. Watson is rubbing his left shoulder pretty frequently. It’s clearly bothering him — possible weakness to exploit?

Back to Avs players. Landeskog knows what his team has been bringing to the ice:

"“But for us, it’s just a matter of playing with that, being aggressive and having that swagger and playing with that confidence. And at the same time going out there and playing hard. That’s the way we have had success in the past is by working hard and all season long that’s something that’s been a staple to our game, and that’s something that we’ve got to keep doing.”"

Being aggressive and having swagger — as Landy said, the Avs have nothing to lose.

Our captain, Gabriel Landeskog, has some final words for the team:

"“So for us it’s just a matter of making sure we leave it all out there. The game’s not out there until the final buzzer goes.”"

According to Avalanche radio host Marc Moser, the Colorado Avalanche players have a preternatural amount of guts — something along the lines of three cow’s hearts, two pancreases, and five stomachs.

Next: Avs Win Game 5!!!

In any case, this Colorado Avalanche team has been exciting all season, one way or another. I hope our cap is right and they don’t lose two in a row at Pepsi Center. But even if they do, this team will have made us all proud with how much they left out on the ice,