Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog was a Beast in the Playoffs

DENVER, CO - APRIL 16: Gabriel Landeskog
DENVER, CO - APRIL 16: Gabriel Landeskog /

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog not only led the team in points, he led the team in leaving it all out on the ice.

“Unless you win the last game of the season, in June, I don’t think you’re ever going to be satisfied.” ~Gabriel Landeskog

The Colorado Avalanche played five good playoff games against the heavily favored Nashville Predators, and then the bill of sales for playing beyond their capacity came due in Game 6.

I really wish the Avs players had showed more tenacity in that game. But, they went down 2-0 fairly early. Once it was 3-0, they just ran out of gas, as Joe Sakic said.

Well, captain Gabriel Landeskog didn’t have a great Game 6 — no one on the Avs did. However, he led the team every step of the way and had a really big series overall for Colorado. Like color analyst Peter McNab observed in the regular season game against the Anaheim Ducks, Landeskog is built for the playoffs.

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Gabe has always been a gritty, physical player. There’s a definite edge to his game, and no one can question his passion. Does he cross the line sometimes? Of course he does — all power forwards do at one time or another.

Those kinds of lines get blurry in the playoffs. I feel our Avalanche captain navigated that blurred territory with aplomb.

What’s more, Landeskog showed up where it really counted — on the scoreboard. In the six games, he recorded four goals and three assists for seven points — all of those career highs in the playoffs for Gabe. He’s only been in one other playoff series, in 2103-14. He recorded three goals and an assist in that series.

Those four goals and seven points led all Avalanche players in the playoffs. In fact, it’s tied for tops in the entire series with Predators forward Austin Watson, who also recorded four goals and three assists.

Here’s Gabe’s three-point night in Game 3:

Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic was appreciative of Landeskog’s leadership not just in the playoffs, but all season long:

"“He was a great leader last year to keep this group together and he’s taken it to another level in leadership. You need those guys to step up in the playoffs. The emotional level, the intensity, everything ramps up, and I thought he was one of the more impressive players in the entire series. He brought it every single night. His physicality, his leadership, got big goals, and I’m pretty proud of the way he stepped up.”"

I concur with everything Sakic said. Landeskog is not tabbed to be your leading scorer in the regular season — his 62 points were third on the team. However, he brings that physicality and passion to every game he plays.

One thing that was widely remarked upon not just in the playoffs but in the regular season as well is Landeskog’s willingness to talk to the press after losses. Indeed, he’s been known to wave off reporters after a win, exhorting them to go talk to one of the other players in the good times. But in the bad times, he’s ready to take on the tough questions.

After the Game 6 loss, Landeskog spoke with the press. He was poised and composed, but you could hear the upset in his voice. That said, he reiterated two things — a 5-0 loss was not the way they wanted to finish, especially in front of their fans, and he was proud of the team nonetheless.

One thing that annoys me about fans at hockey games are those that leave early because of the score. I mean, you pay for something, you’d think you’d want to get the full experience. Plus, there’s a certain amount of supporting your team.

The players notice it, too. Landeskog remarked that you hate to see fans leaving the arena. “But it’s also 5-0, so you can’t blame them.” He went on to express his appreciation for the fans:

"“It means a lot to us that they did give us a standing ovation at the end. It means a lot, and I think for everyone in here to sit back and reflect and realize that, I think we’ve done a lot to Denver. And I think we’ve meant a lot to a lot of people in this city. To the Avs fans out there, they’ve been unbelievable all year. They mean a lot to all of us.”"

As the captain goes, so goes the rest of the team. Every player who spoke to the media spoke about how much the fans meant to them — including Mikko Rantanen, who accidentally called Preds fans “the best in the league.” (We’ll give him a pass because he’s injured and not a native English speaker.)

Here’s the video the Avs made to thank the fans:

Landeskog was hesitant to reflect on the season — I remember after the Game 7 loss to Minnesota he was the same way. Indeed, during his post-game presser he remarked that it takes a few weeks to get that distance. However, he also focused on the positives:

"“I’m sure it’s a feel-good story for everybody–from where we were 12 months ago to here. To a certain extent, it is to this group as well and the guys that were here, but you always want more.”"

In fact, Landeskog came up with a quote that defines what the NHL is:

"“Unless you win the last game of the season, in June, I don’t think you’re ever going to be satisfied.”"

Those are wise words.

Next: Landy Living up to Expectations

Here’s the full presser:

Sakic talks about watching this crop of youngsters grow up together. I’ve been doing that all along, starting with Matt Duchene and continuing to Tyson Jost. But at the center of that has been Gabriel Landeskog, the photogenic young captain who’s found his leadership and his growing legacy with the Colorado Avalanche.