The Colorado Avalanche clinched their first playoff berth since 2010 on Saturday, and did so by winning in a way that seems very familiar: by riding Semyon Varlamov’s great goaltending.
In the process, they delighted many fans while also emboldening critics who believe that they’re running off of luck. Varlamov stopped 47 out of 49 shots as Colorado squeezed by the San Jose Sharks by a score of 3-2 today.
Varlamov’s counterpart Alex Stalock only faced 22 shots, but allowed those three goals.
The Avalanche are already talking about ticket sales and are rolling out a “Why Not Us?” campaign:
With this loss, the Sharks have now dropped four of their last five games, making it seem that much more likely that they’ll finish second in the Pacific Division this season. As of this writing, they have one more point than Anaheim (103 to 102), yet the Ducks have three games in hand and tiebreaker advantages.
In other words, the Avalanche seem primed for a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks (with home-ice advantage still on the line) while the Sharks are likely to be the second-ranked Pacific team against a robust third-ranked squad in the Los Angeles Kings.
(Again, note the word “likely” as strange things can certainly happen in sports.)
Colorado currently has a one-point lead over Chicago and hold a game in hand. It should be interesting to watch, but the Avalanche know they’ll make their second playoff run in six seasons after today’s win.
Now they just need to hope that Matt Duchene’s issue isn’t major.