The Colorado Avalanche lost 7-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. The score was the only payment they had to make to learn in this hockey clinic.
The Colorado Avalanche are an exciting young team with a bright future ahead of them. But they’re exactly that — a young team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a brilliant, seasoned team expected to contend for the Stanley Cup every season. They can play a fast, skill game or a slow, gritty game and everything in between. They limit their mistakes, rebounding quickly from the few they make, and make opponents pay for their own mistakes quickly.
And they never stop. As we saw in the game last night, it didn’t matter how big their lead was, Tampa never let up on the physical play, and they certainly didn’t relent on the scoring.
This is the team the Colorado Avalanche want to become when they grow up.
Right now the Avs have the foundation set to grow up to be the Bolts. They have their fast, skilled players already making waves in the form of the En Fuego Line with a side of Tyson Barrie. They have the likes of Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher, and Alexander Kerfoot, plus Samuel Girard, to become the next wave as they continue to develop. And they have the likes of Martin Kaut, Conor Timmins (fingers crossed), and Cale Makar coming up the pipeline as highly-skilled players.
Colorado also has some of the tougher side with Nikita Zadorov, Ian Cole, and even our captain, Gabriel Landeskog. Compher can fit in here, too. You’ve got A.J. Greer and Nic Meloche who might look to step into such roles eventually.
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You have Erik Johnson providing a little bit of everything, including leadership and mentorship. And you’ve got some pretty good current goal tending in Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubaeur. There is also some talent in the pipeline there, as well.
As I’m noting, though, a lot of what the Avs have is for the future. I want to see them clean up their game so they look more like the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I want to see Colorado play the game on a shift-by-shift basis, meaning they show up every single shift. You’re not going to be brilliant every single shift, but your entire head should be in the game.
I want to see what Mark Rycroft once called tidy hockey. I’ve used the phrase machine-like precision before, and I’m going to say it again — I want to see machine-like precision in their passing. Here’s a lesson that Alex Killorn, with help from his cohorts, gave the Avs in last night’s game:
As play-by-play announcer Marc Moser observed during the game, every pass leading up to that goal was tape-to-tape and beat a defender.
But I certainly don’t want to see the Avalanche to give up their brand of hockey. I want to see Nathan MacKinnon making chop suey and Mikko Rantanen channeling Jaromir Jagr and Sam Girard whirli-gigging around.
It’s just that I want them to have a more solid foundation under them. I don’t want them to be the underdogs — I want them to be the big dogs.
The hope is that they’re moving in the right direction. It certainly bodes well that they followed last year’s success, making the playoffs at the last minute, with a seeming march to the playoffs this year, which is a successive success.
The Colorado Avalanche could well become the Lightning when they grow up — and that time might be just around the corner.