Look, I don’t have the answers for you with the Avs.
I’m not going to pander and tell you what you want to hear. What I will tell you is there are five games left in this series. The margin of error is, however, much smaller these days — one game, to be exact. Those are the facts, and the Avs know that. Colorado dug itself this hole and they’ll need to win four of those final five games to crawl out of it. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Not quite.
History, mathematicians, realists and the like will all tell you the 2-0 series hole is next to impossible to overcome, sure. Here’s the cold, hard truth about the situation the Avalanche find themselves in: Teams that go down 2-0 in a Stanley Cup playoff series have only come back to win 51 of those 375 series.
I’ll do the math for you on that…that is, only 16.3% of teams that fall behind two games to none have successfully come back to win the series.
Even the most audacious of risk-taking gamblers wouldn’t put money down right now on the Avalanche, who once upon a time were odds-on favorites to win the whole thing.
But it’s still possible. To quote Rocky Balboa: “Ain’t nothin’ over ‘til it’s over.” But the Avs are certainly down on the mat at the moment. They’re reeling from some body shots to the midsection and their eyes are swelling shut from some right hooks and left jabs to the face.
But as Balboa will also famously tell you: “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.
“That’s how winning is done.”
It’s been done before. The Avalanche did it in the second round of the 1999 Stanley Cup playoffs. They found themselves down in a 2-0 hole as the home team, before rattling off four straight wins to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the series.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were down 2-0 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final to Detroit and came back to win in seven games. In 2011, the Boston Bruins also won the Cup after starting off down 0-2 to Vancouver. It’s possible. Anything’s possible.
But the Avs have to suck it up. All that vaunted depth that GM Joe Sakic worked so hard to build these past two or three years has gone AWOL at the most important time of the year. Key injuries are piling up. Frustration is mounting. The Avs are wearing it on their faces and their body language. They’re in their own heads, and so is Dallas, right there living rent-free.
I didn’t see a whole lot of try or getting up from the mat after Dallas’ defense delivered the crushing blow of killing the Avs 5-on-3 midway through the second period. The game was still tied 2-2 at that point and there were still 25 minutes and 52 seconds of game left for any team to grab the win. But the game was effectively over at that point for the Avalanche. From that point on, I saw a whole lot of slouching shoulders and hanging heads — and a team that looked ready to pack it in and try it again next time.
That is not the stuff of Stanley Cup champions. Woe-is-me won’t lead to winning. Trying at least gets you halfway there.
Now the pressure is on and the seats are beginning to heat a bit. Anything short of a Conference Final should be considered a failure for this Avalanche team that is so well-built for success up and down the lineup. My Twitter mentions after the game were already calling for the head of head coach Jared Bednar. Are we really already at that point? We shouldn’t be…but maybe we’re getting there.
It goes without saying, but I’ll state the obvious anyway: next game is huge for the Avalanche. We’ll see what this Avs team is really made of in Game 3 — one of steely resolve or one ready to make every excuse as to why they’re leaving the bubble so early.
Teams that fall behind 0-3 in a series are given a damn-near, may-as-well-be-impossible 2.08% chance of coming back. But hey, maybe this all part of their storyline, who knows. It would no doubt make for great inspirational content in their “Colorado Avalanche 2020 Stanley Cup Champions” DVD. Or not. It could all go horribly wrong.
After Game 2, Bednar said “it’s not all doom and gloom” and he “truly believes the best is yet to come.” Gabe Landeskog said “there’s no quit in this team.”