AVALANCHE WRAP: “Feels Good But The Job’s Not Done”

Things are looking dire for one of the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final, and despite all the hullabaloo from the national (and even local) media about the strength and determination and veteran wiles born from nearly three-straight years of experience, the Colorado Avalanche have the Tampa Bay Lightning pinned against the boards 200 feet from the puck.

With an astounding and downright dominant win over the Bolts, the Avs are headed to Florida to attempt a sweep in the final round of the NHL playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Ironically, that was also against a hockey club from Florida, the Panthers in 1995-96. And the ’96 and ’01 Cup-winning teams have been the gold standard for the Avalanche ever since. But that may no longer be the case, if this current iteration of the club has any say.

 any say. They’ve been sick of being compared to last year’s losers. They’ve been sick of being compared to the losers from the year before that… and the year before that.

 any say. They’ve been asked, and talked, about the teams of yesteryear, whether they featured on them or not, ad nauseam this season. Now they’re done talking. They’re showing.

 any say. When asked postgame by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan whether he would celebrate the second-most lopsided shutout in NHL history, Cale Makar said, “No.”

 any say. Then he dropped the mic and walked into the late June Colorado sunset. Not really, but you know, metaphorically or whatever. Postgame, mild mannered Ken doll-turned-wundercoach Jared Bednar gave all the credit to his players.

 any say. “I don’t know about the perfect plan, but it was certainly as close to perfect of a game you can get from your players,” he said. “Coming out of Game 1, we were dangerous offensively, but I thought that there was another step to it for group. So we evaluated that, we showed them some things. They did a nice job. And on the defensive side of it, we were way better tonight, way better. It wasn’t even close.”

 any say. Everyone anticipated pushback from the team looking to create the first true Stanley Cup dynasty since the 1980s. They took Game 1 into overtime after a dreadful first period that saw them in a hole. Even Lightning head coach Jon Cooper all but guaranteed a better start.

 any say. “I’ll tell you what I expect from our team. I expect us to be way the heck better in the first 10 minutes than we were the other night,” Cooper said Saturday afternoon. “And the rest of the game will take care of itself. But that’s what we have to do. We have to weather that energy and excitement in this building for them and we should be okay.”

 any say. Well his club again trailed by two goals in the first 10 minutes, a promising first shift having turned into ashes once more thanks to the speed and tenacity and relentlessness of what appears to be a much better Avalanche squad.