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Avs hope to learn from ‘nightmare’ playoff finish

Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche - Game Seven Getty Images

In Game 7 against the Minnesota Wild, the Colorado Avalanche looked primed to win their first playoff series since the 2007-08 season. They held a one-goal lead late in the third period and Darcy Kuemper left the Wild net with an injury. Instead, the Avalanche squandered that margin and ended up falling to Minnesota in overtime.

From the sound of things in this story, that defeat still stings.

“It was a nightmare for all of us, especially for me,” Semyon Varlamov said.

Judging from their offseason moves as well as their perspective about that letdown, it sounds like the Avalanche are taking the “you need to learn how to lose before you learn how to win” approach.

“I would certainly like to have [2:27] at the end of Game 7,” Head coach Patrick Roy said. “Up by one goal, it would have been a great experience for our players to go on against Chicago, but at the same time maybe it just wasn’t our time yet. I think everybody was talking to the players and they were all disappointed. I think it hurt us a lot. I think we learned a lot from it.”

Roy went on to speak about handling pressure and expectations while Joe Sakic believes that the team accomplished everything it needed to during the offseason.

If this Avalanche team is as strong as its regular season record indicates, then that defeat serves mainly as a bump in the road. That certainly seems to be the franchise’s approach.

  1. lordfletcher - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    is it just me or has this same article been made about 4 times since the playoffs?

  2. jpat2424 - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Blues know how to lose before they win

  3. greej1938l - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    It’s not the same team either…..we will see come season. But I see them taking a step
    Back honestly. Defense still appears to be a problem

    • guitarhunterdude - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      They overacheived last year (because of Varlamov’s Veznia-caliber season) and they got worse this year, losing a top-six center and not upgrading their extremely iffy bottom-six and defensive corps. Iginla might help soften the blow from losing Stastny, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Avs were back in the basement this year, even with big steps from their young forwards.

      • avscup - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        They are deep at center with Duchene, Mackinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, John Mitchell, Max Talbot, Danny Briere. Pretty hard to pay Stastny $7M to be a 3C. He had a good year and is a decent player but he under performed on his previous $6.6 deal. Part of his good year was playing with good talent around him. He was not a 2c on this team but should do well in St Louis.

      • withseidelinn - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        I don’t think they’ll be that bad, but probably fighting for a 7-8 spot. A lot of things would have to go wrong for them to be back in the basement.

      • bricevjohnson - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        Stastny isn’t a bad player, but he’s streaky and doesn’t create offense himself. As mentioned, he heavily relies on the talent around him. While I don’t think he’ll be terrible in St. Louis, he certainly won’t carry the team on his back. If you’re going to dish out 7 million+ to a player, they better damn well be game breakers; something Paul Stastny will never be.

      • guitarhunterdude - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        MacKinnon’s ridiculously skilled, and one of the most dangerous in the league off the rush, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep the other team consistently on their heels yet. In his own zone. he’s pretty much a disaster. I’m not sold on him being a top-six center yet, at least not over O’Reilly.

        The thing holding the Avs back isn’t their top six at all, not even with the loss of Stastny (one of their few possession drivers). It’s their bottom six, which they didn’t upgrade enough to really make a difference, and their defensemen, the best of which is a second-pair guy. Briere is at this point a decent fourth-liner, but he’s declining fast and hard. Iginla should be a decent top-six winger, but he’s getting old, and his style of play fit the Bruins’ hard-hitting, grinding style far better than the Avs’ fast counterattacking one. I wouldn’t expect 30 goals from him again, at any rate. The additions they’ve made to their defense are all pretty bad, too. Brad Stuart isn’t any kind of upgrade.

        It’s not just “oh, they lost Stastny, they’re going to be bad,” I’m banking on some serious regression from Varlamov and a bit in team shooting percentage as well (though, with the skilled top-six they have, the Avs should still be above league average in that regard.) I don’t buy Roy’s supposed ability to keep the other team to the outside and taking low-quality shots significantly more than other NHL coaches, if it really is there, I don’t see it. And even if it is, it likely doesn’t help all that much. Shot quality is difficult (nearly impossible) to fully quantify, but by comparing goalies’ performances while on bad defensive teams vs. their performances on good defensive teams, it has been shown to have little to no effect on actual save percentage at the NHL level. Basically, goalies are gonna be who they’re gonna be, regardless of the defense in front of them. If Varlamov goes back to playing .915 or .913 hockey and the Avs’ shooting percentage moves back down to normal next year, things could get ugly for them. They’re a bit of a wild card; I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fighting for 3rd in the division, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a bottom-five team in the West, either. It depends on if Varlamov can keep up his performance from last year and if the Avs adopt a more possession-friendly system.

      • avscup - Jul 24, 2014 at 6:10 PM

        You make some valid points. I have some counterpoints for you. Varly was helped by a new goalie coach and a commitment to different training and approach to the game. I don’t think he will get worse. They didn’t lose a top 6C on this team. They gained a solid wing in Iginla and while I know many here seem to think he’s old, look at what Selanne did while old. Similar bodies. Healthy freaks of nature. Tanguay proved he still can play, think what he will play like with his buddy Jerome on a line with Duchene. Landy, Mac, ROR or Landy, ROR, Mac. You saw the best 18 year old on the planet, he’ll be better this year. I think the D will be better simply because they are a little further into a new system and coaching from Adam Foote.

        Lastly, I have never seen a goalie score goals consistently. The Avs had a lot of production from the whole team. Even Bordy!

        Hate all you want but no reason for them to get worse. They will be a better possession team this year.

  4. JoeAvg - Jul 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Being here in the East I don’t get to see the Avs much but when I watched them in the playoffs I couldn’t figure out how they do it. They never seem to have the puck, the play is always in their zone, but you look at the score and they’re up by 2 goals. Left me scratchin my head.

    From what I saw I don’t think the series was as close as the game 7 OT indicates. When you think about how lucky they got with the late game heroics a couple of times, and how infrequently those things happen, the series could have easily been much shorter for the Wild.

  5. mrbizplan - Jul 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Roy had it right when he said Matt Cooke’s hit on Tyson Barrie was the play of the game. Perhaps it was the play of the series. What little defense they had was greatly diminished with that one hit.

    This is coming from a Wild fan, not commenting on the hit/suspension itself good, bad or otherwise. Just saying the loss of Barrie changed the complexion of the series. Plus Yeo and company found a way to shut down the Av’s stars, something they couldn’t do to the Blackhawks for more than a period or two per game.

    Either way Colorado wouldn’t have made it past the Hawks anyway.

    • jernster21 - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Not only that hit but we didn’t have John Mitchell for the series which could have been the difference in the series considering I think it was lost because our bottom 6 didn’t match up against the Wild’s bottom six. Hejda was also basically playing with one hand the entire series as well; considering he was the #2 D, that was a huge blow…and no depth for someone to step in and replace him. Someone mentioned that our bottom 6 wasn’t improved, but a complete overhaul wasn’t necessary anyway, we just needed more depth…that’s where Briere comes in…he could have played third line center to replace Mitchell and the gap may not have been so glaring. That said, it helps fix our 3rd line but not much changes on our 4th line; I’ve never seen Jessie Winchester play before so I don’t know what he brings to that line. It is what it is, all teams have injuries so it’s really no excuse for losing against the Wild, but I just think the outcome could have been different if some key players weren’t hurt.

      • purpleguy - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        It sure was a great series, even if it aged me about 10 years. As to Avs injuries and the woulda coulda deal, remember the Wild were playing with their 4th goalie, and Moulson, Coyle and others were playing hurt, etc., so the injury thing goes both ways.

    • wutangwild - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Agree for the most part, except shutting down the Avs’ stars. Mackinnon made our defense look like swiss cheese at times. Was a great series though, I was on the verge of throwing beer bottles through the TV after some of those last-minute tying goals

      • govtminion - Jul 24, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        Wasn’t that great? I’m a Colorado fan, so obviously it was a disappointing end, but… MAN that was a fun series from end to end. That might have been the best first-round series of the lot, maybe of the playoffs looking at it from a hockey perspective rather than a ‘fan of the team’ perspective.

      • wutangwild - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        For sure, and it was not surprising that that game 7 got voted best game of the playoffs by fans. I can’t wait for opening night against the Avs, there is a good rivalry awakening and I honestly wouldn’t be mad if someone knocked Cookie on his a$$, that hit was downright cheap.

      • mrbizplan - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        I know broad statements like “shut down the Avs stars” can’t apply to every period of every game but if you remember games 3 and 4 Colorado only had 34 shots on goal…in TWO games. One game had some kind of record low of 12 shots for the Avs.

  6. joeyashwi - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    The West is tough. The Wild and the Avs are both good enough to be 1 or 2 seeds in the East yet will be fighting to make the playoffs with the rest of the teams in the West. Should be an exciting season!

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      True, and now it’s not just a matter of the Hawks and Blues being in the division, the Stars really appear to have improved over the summer.

  7. bsaures - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Injuries will play a huge role in where they end up next year. One of the main reasons for their success last year was that they were fortunate to not lose many players particularly thier top end players for long stretches. Any major injuries especially on defense could derail the team quickly

    • astilgy - Jul 24, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      Don’t injuries play a huge role in where every team ends up?

      • bsaures - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        What I am saying is the they lack the organizational depth to lose a dman and still be competitive

  8. wutangwild - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    It will be interesting to see how they end up doing this year. Like many have pointed out, it will come down to how the bottom six, defensive play and especially Varly do. They have one of the more formidable (and young) top 6 in the league. Doesn’t help that Iginla goes into another gear when playing the Wild. Speaking of that series…. SIGN NINO!!!

  9. illogic87 - Jul 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Avs better get use to getting their butts stomped by the Wild

    • avscup - Jul 24, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Really? That is just illogic

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