The Colorado Avalanche should have won the second-round series, but too many errors cost them the games.
The Colorado Avalanche are a better team than the Dallas Stars. Even though it was the latter who advanced to the Conference Finals, I maintain that the Avs are the better team. Even with all their injuries, they could have taken the second-round series.
Unfortunately, it was the errors, especially the mental errors, that ultimately cost them.
The Avalanche did so well. I’m not going to beat a dead horse here. However, moral victories are long in the past. This is a team that was favored to challenge for the Stanley Cup — even favored to win that elusive trophy. So, we’re all definitely disappointed by a second-round exit — a successive second-round exit.
Let’s look at some of the specific mental errors that cost them the series.
The Avalanche have some star players who can make highlight reel goals — the kind of goals that earn them a shoutout from the NHL. However, let’s all say my favorite mantra together: Ugly goals count the same as pretty ones.
Colorado saw it first with goalie Darcy Kuemper and then with Anton Khudobin. When they got traffic in front of the net, they could bang in a goal on either goalie.
Unfortunately, they preferred to try and make the pretty play, usually on a breakaway. Hey, I love me a beautiful breakaway goal, but that just wasn’t working in this playoffs. I’d really have liked to see some more “garbage” goals because they could have lead to a series win.
Speaking of, you know how players like to complain about fans yelling at them to shoot? Well, the Avs players better not try that business (not that they have — they never complain about fans). There were no fans in the stadium for either series, and so many of the players seemed to think they should just hold onto the puck.
The issue was especially bad in on the power play. I swear, the Avalanche treated the puck like it was a try of cookies at a tea party, they passed it around so much. I wish the team would have recorded Pepsi Center faithful screaming “Shoooooooot!”
More from Mile High Sticking
Days since Ian Cole last made an egregious error: 2, but only because the Colorado Avalanche haven’t played in those two days. That man takes penalties at the most inopportune times. And don’t get me started on his giveaways.
It was far from Cole alone. Ryan Graves started looking like a bubble player again. And I wanted to scream at JT Compher when he took that penalty late in the third period that took the steam out of Colorado. The lost faceoff that led to the Dallas game-tying goal. The missed defensive assignments that led to the OT winner.
Cale Makar is a precious angel who can do no wrong. He… made a couple mistakes, too.
The coaching staff is not above reproach. The Colorado Avalanche had home ice advantage. In these bubble playoffs, the only thing that meant was they had the last change.
That means the coaching staff had their choice in matchups in four out of the seven games. And they didn’t make any of them count. By the way, I get there were a lot of injuries, but I’m tired of the salad spinner approach to line-making. I think a lot of the mental errors came from the fact that players never knew who was on the ice for them.
And let’s just say that the special teams need work. The Avalanche have too much fire power for their power play to have been as ineffective as it was in this series.
The Colorado Avalanche have a bright future. I know a lot of us — myself very much included — don’t want to hear about that future anymore, though. We want to see the winning now.