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Avalanche finished 2013-14 with plenty to be happy about

Aug 7, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy watches play from the bench in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) AP

Colorado’s playoff run was short-lived thanks to the Minnesota Wild, but it’s hard to look at the Avalanche’s 2013-14 campaign as anything but a success.

In the lockout shortened season, the Avalanche finished with their worst record from a points percentage perspective since they moved to Colorado and they followed it up with the second best regular season in their franchise’s history. They gave fans a reason to be excited again, with past heroes Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy shaping and coaching the team respectively, and youngsters Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Matt Duchene leading the charge on the ice.

From the beginning of the season, Roy pushed the underdog Avalanche to ask themselves the question, “Why not us?” With that mentality, they took an early season hot streak and developed it into a 52-22-8 record.

The new sense of hope was contagious as that combined with the on-ice results led to a spike in fans attendance from 15,445 per game in 2013 to 16,296 in 2013-14, according to the hockey database.

The team had been dealing with attendance problems for years. Part of the issue, as Denver Post report Adrian Dater argued years ago, was that the team lacked identity and direction.

That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, but then, we’ve only been through one season of the new Sakic/Roy-era. There’s an argument to be made that the Avalanche might have been playing above their heads and were leaning too heavily on Semyon Varlamov, who they need to hope has another spectacular season after breaking out in 2013-14.

The silver lining is that while a regression is certainly possible, given the overall youth of the team, it wouldn’t be devastating. Perhaps they won’t do as well in 2014-15 compared to last season, but they have a core in place that could be fun to watch for years to come.

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