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Avalanche playoffs

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



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.

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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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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Richard Trujillo

Too small, too soft, no depth. Same problems as the last three years in the playoffs. Whose fault is that for failing to fix these obvious roster shortcomings going on 4 years now?


They definitely miss EJ I’ll give you that. You shouldn’t be so negative and defeatist just yet though. Playoff swings happen all the time. It isn’t over.

Last edited 1 year ago by djs
Richard Trujillo

It isn’t over…you are right. But this is almost exactly what we have seen for four straight years now. The one difference being Nathan Mackinnon usually waits until late in the series before the lights get too bright for him. This year he regressed and disappeared in game 2. After watching this team fall short in the same areas year in and year out my faith is incredibly low. I hope I am wrong and the Avs become the once a decade finesse team that wins the Cup this season but usually the teams built like Vegas are the ones… Read more »


Correct – and this didn’t just pop up over the past week – it’s been the problem and well known. While a good team with some great players, consistently has shown vulnerable to this, which is really, just as AD has highlighted and previewed, end of season Cup-worth hockey…and the players didn’t pick themselves of put themselves on the ice…they were assembled…it’s the assembler who must answer for this…there were decisions to be made over the past three years…and some have been good…others not…if this was any of the other three divisions, and it could be left to another team… Read more »


It shouldn’t be underestimated how much those fans and that atmosphere had to do with the game. It was bonkers in there. Also the first goal on the Nemeth turnover was really flukey and a big momentum changer. The fans were so loud that Grubauer didn’t know they didn’t score at first and didn’t reset. If they didn’t score there the game would have gone differently. Marchessault is a complete lucksack. Good, he got a few goals. Now he doesn’t get anymore from here on out. These guys are streaky. Anyway, next game back in CO. Fans better be ready… Read more »


Doesn’t make any sense the Avs are waiting for full capacity the next round while the nuggets are full capacity tonight. Sure it’s not easy for the Avs reps to redo the seating algorithm to sell seats by tomorrow but other teams have done it mid series so there is no reason to keep it at 8,000 people less than Vegas had. The noise and crowd wasn’t the main factor but a factor for sure in that game last night. Our crowd is great but 8,000 less is much more quiet. The announcers last home game were commenting on how… Read more »

Zach Zavilla

Not calling for Bednar to be fired… but if the avs go out with a whimper in this series, does Sakic begin to look elsewhere? I’m honestly at a bit of a loss after the last 2 1/2 games.


When will the Kadri arbitration decision be announced? If it’s after his suspension is fully served, arbitration seems utterly useless.

Other than that. Yeah, Game 5 could be a first true career defining moment for #29!


I mean I don’t see his absence making a huge difference tonight, but if he comes back and the Avs get down to brass tacks, we can win a best of 3 series!


There are no excuses for how the Avs have played the last 8 periods. Just totally smoked by Vegas. Avs are making bad turn over passes because they know the bigger guys are going to hit them. Kadri’s brain lock hit for the suspension is having an impact on the teams line up. Losing Calvert and LOC is hurting, they don’t have a fourth line, not to mention losing EJ & Byram at the end of the year. So yeah I do think injuries and Kadri’s lack of discipline have hurt the Avs. They say they have depth, but it… Read more »

John Baxter

The problem with this team and has been for the last couple of years is that they don’t have that next gear like teams need in the playoffs. I hate to say it because I really do like Bednar but if they lose this series, which I think they will, Bednar needs to be fired. They need a coach that can help them get to that next gear when its playoff time.

Karl Keen

First, let’s just be honest, Vegas was and is very good and has been so. They have as much playoff experience as our guys. They are the biggest team in the NHL, they can still skate, and they have enough of the skilled guys to be a Top 3 team in the league with us and TB. Is the fact this series is tied 2-2 crazy? Absolutely not. It is extremely concerning that we have lost the last 8 periods to this team? Absolutely. But we all knew we were much smaller than them and would have a tough time… Read more »


……..I cannot figure out for the life of me why Soderberg and Nemeth are in. Big bodied sure, but do not play to the identity of this team. Stand out for all the wrong reasons. Byram needs to be in for Nemeth, Newhook at 2c Compher to the 4th. Bring O’connor back NOW. Speed up and down the lineup is what they need. You cannot have a fast team with 2 guys that are stuck in mud…..


There is no doubt we are missing our spark plug Calvert, for personality and grit alone. I saw Mackinnon saunter to the bench during a line change and thought to myself that’s the attitude that is killing them right now. You look at the Vegas bench and you see grit and grizzle …. Have known all season this lack of physicality would come back to bite us.


Well it looks bad but here’s an optimistic view: Last year it looked to be over really fast and early agaist Dallas but the Avs made a huge turnaround and clawed back. We know they have it in them so let’s show them some faith for a nice kick back.


I can’t remember who wrote it (maybe the article writer) but I believe they said Avs had too much talent compared to Vegas. lol… Avs top line is loaded but it’s a steep fall from there. Vegas is wayyy more balanced across 4 useable lines.

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