Things were looking so good for the Colorado Avalanche.
And then they boarded their flight to Minnesota.
Just to recap all things that went wrong for the Avs in Games 3 and 4:
— They lost both of them.
— They only scored once.
— They were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin, 78-34.
— They lost Tyson Barrie for the series and beyond.
And how’s that sitting with them?
“Hanging around the locker room after the game,” wrote the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater last night, “I got the sense that this team is flustered, more than I have at any point on the season.”
This is the adversity the young Avs were bound to run into at some point in the postseason. The good news is, they still have home-ice advantage, and they’re still getting great goaltending from Semyon Varlamov.
“When we have the type of performance that we have from our goaltender, there’s no reason for us to not believe in ourselves, coming back home,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said.
For Roy, the leading candidate to be named coach of the year, preparing his team for Saturday’s Game 5 will be his biggest challenge to date as an NHL bench boss. If the Avs are down mentally, he’ll need to get them back up. And that might not be easy after they were so thoroughly dominated for two straight games.
Roy will also need to figure a way to get his young guns going again. Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals in Games 1 and 2. Only Ryan O’Reilly managed to score in Minnesota.
Yes, the Avs will have last change at home, which will help. But they won’t have Ilya Bryzgalov to shoot on. Since taking over the goaltending in Game 2, rookie Darcy Kuemper has stopped 47 of 48 shots for the Wild.
“We’re still not testing this goalie enough. We’re making him look good by taking shots from the outside and nobody being in front,” Landeskog said.
All throughout the regular season, there were those who predicted a Colorado collapse. Yet the Avs kept finding ways to win, to the point it became their mantra:
Now, again, with all sorts of so-called experts predicting their demise, they have an opportunity to just find a way.