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Avalanche playoffs

Dater column: After big team meeting, Avs give all-talk, no action performance

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Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, T-Mobile Arena

Jesus, it’s all happening again, isn’t it? Another time period in which we all started to believe the hype about the Colorado Avalanche, but now feel like we’re rooting for the Titanic, post-iceberg.

After a sweep of the St. Louis Blues and two straight wins over the Vegas Golden Knights, which made 11 wins in a row, it’s now two Ls in a row going the wrong way, and suddenly it feels like the Avs aren’t even in the same galaxy as Vegas moving forward. We all saw the Stanley Cup odds, which just a few days ago were +150 on the Avs winning the Cup (that’s good, for those who don’t know gambling terms) and thought, “Yeah, yeaaaahhh. Maybe we are this good?”).

The Avs talked about how focused they were and how much they’ve learned from the past and how they “know” this and that about how Vegas plays and how they’re focused on that and….another deer-in-the-headlights showing when the going started to get tougher.

The Avs are coming home, tied 2-2 in the series and, hey, that’s certainly not the worst position to be in, in life. It’s a two-out-of-three series, and two of the three potential games would be at home. But, it feels like, even if the playing surface were Mars, the Avs wouldn’t have any chance against Vegas right now.

Colorado’s top offensive players have gotten no time and space with the puck since the first period of Game 2. Nathan MacKinnon looks like he’s just guessing out there right now, how to get the puck and what to do with it when he gets it. Vegas, with a weak Avs second line doing nothing to alleviate things on the top line, is stifling the Avs’ top trio with fresher lines coming at them. Until midway through the third, the Avs’ top line had three shots on net and no points. That is coming off a Game 3 in which they did not much more than the square root of Sweet Fanny Adam.

The Avs had a big team meeting last night at 5 o’clock, in what was billed as a kind of Come To Jesus meeting. The Avs then went out and played to the evangelical equivalent of lambs being led to slaughter. An early Brandon Saad goal – and newfound optimism that the last game was just a fluke – were dancing like Fred and Ginger in the minds of Avs’ fans’ heads.

And then it was all Vegas, all the time. An absolute demolition from there. Five straight goals to close out the game, and it felt like there could have been 20.

It’s just not close right now, and normally I would say “hey, the home team only held serve, we’ll get ’em back at our barn!” But this is the same group that lost a Game 7 they probably should have won in San Jose two years ago, then faltered against a Dallas team with a one-goal lead with 3:40 left in Game 7 last year. Both season-ending losses happened in the second round, and right now the odds are tilting heavily again that the Avs will bow out again.

If I’m Jared Bednar, and I think I might be fired if this team loses again for the third year in a row in the second round on my watch, then I go radical for Game 5. I bench J.T. Compher and Patrik Nemeth and put Alex Newhook and Bo Byram, respectively, in there. Why the Avs ever got Nemeth back in the first place will remain a mystery to most fans, and so let’s get the kid with some top-5-pick talent, Byram, in there. Hell, I’ll take Jacob MacDonald over Broadway Nemeth right now too.

This was supposed to be a statement game from the Avs, a notice to the rest of the hockey world that “Yeah, we lost one, but we’re going to come out and show we’re killers now, that this team doesn’t lose two in row right now.” Instead, the statement they gave was:

“We’re still not ready for prime time yet.”

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