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Avalanche playoffs

Avs still have a chance to prove they aren’t just another “pretty, but not gritty” team



Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

Really, the Avs shouldn’t change a thing from Game 5. That’s the only way I think the Avs can beat that team, is to just outwork ’em. Work is what’s going to beat that team, not “talent.”

I can’t stand that word anymore, by the way. Talent. For me, it’s becoming a cursed word to the Avs. Everybody always raves about their “talent”, their “talented core”, their “talented roster.” The way I want to be labeled as a hockey team is “hard-working”, “gritty”, “tough”, “playoff tough.”

Hard work and playoff toughness are what wins this time of year, not “talent.” The Avs did outwork Vegas for most of the hockey game last night. Play that way again, and you have a decent chance of winning. If the Avs try to win on “talent”, it’s going to be “adios, 2021 season.”

Sure, “talent” can get you a great goal now and then, and of course you want that. But it’s hard work over 60 minutes, not a flashy goal or two, that’s going to win you the playoff game.

Make no mistake, there is a lot of pressure on this Avs team. A win, and it’s Game 7 on home ice, the kind of advantage you worked all season to get. A loss?

There will be changes. I know a lot of you will ask “Does that mean with the coaching position too, changes?”

Yeah, it might. I think Jared Bednar is a great guy and a great coach, but Joe Sakic is going to ask himself some questions if this ends again in the second round for a third straight season.

“Do I need a guy who has been there before and maybe a bit of a hardass (Torts, Babcock, Gallant, Boudreau?).”

“This was Jared’s fifth year at the helm. Are guys gonna start tuning him out now?”

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The Avs will have cap issues going into next year, and some guys are going to have to go because of money, probably. They’re going to lose a good player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.

But forget about those things for a second. The only thing that matters is trying to find a way to steal a Game 6 in Vegas.

“I think the mood is pretty good. We know what we have to do. We have to go into Vegas and win one game,” Bednar said Wednesday. “For us, that’s how we have to play.”

On Nathan MacKinnon, who has been “shut down”, according to the Vegas media, by Mark Stone and Pete DeBoer’s brilliant adjustments.

“I thought Nate was pretty good last night. I think he’s putting a little too much pressure on himself. A little antsy with the puck. I think he’s ready and he’s going to break out in this next game,” Bednar said.

I’ve thought this team was dead and buried before. Like, after Game 5 in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, against New Jersey. The Avs lost Game 5 at home to go down 3-2 in the series, and had to go to New Jersey for a Game 6 against the defending Cup champion Devils. Yeah, I thought it was over. But it wasn’t. The Avs gutted out a 4-0 win and came back home and won the whole damn thing.

Right now, it feels hopeless. But it did 20 years ago too. This is a strange game.

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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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The difference though in 2001 was no one wanted to let Ray Bourque down and they were prepared to die on the Mission 16W hill to win the cup. Who is the Ray Bourque caliber leader on this team? And Grubi has been fantastic so far but can he channel his inner Patrick Roy and do to Vegas what Patty did to the Devils in Game 6? Fun part is, we’re going to get the see


Joe should be asking himself questions about the decisions he has made that put together this roster. He of all people should recall that after the 99-00 defeats at the hand of a physical, gritty Dallas team that dominated puck possession and zone time, the answer was acquiring Borque and then Blake. When the time came to acquire a Pietrangelo, he went in other directions. This team didn’t construct itself. Bednar isn’t the issue. The architect is. But then again, he was a “talented” player.

Luke Waggoner

Pietrangelo isn’t a gritty player. He’s in the same mold as a Byram, Makar, etc. Not as much high-end skill, but the same type of player. You also cannot possibly compare the playoffs in the first few months of the 2000s to now. The NHL is a completely different animal than it was back then. If the Avs play the way they did last night in the next two games, and get a timely save or two from Grub, and a goal or two from the top line, they’re in very good shape to get out of this series.


The sport hasn’t changed that much. It’s still a matter of one team that is physical and another that is skill-based. The same was at issue with the Caps when Barry Trotz transformed them (and is doing the same with the Islanders). Another person described the Avs as the Leafs of the west. That’s not far off. Pietrangelo was part of the top combination of a Cup champion and an Olympic Gold Medal winner. In-person it is evident what a difference he makes to his team with his assured style of play – grit isn’t all physical. It’s primarily attitude.


I think the game itself hasn’t changed as much as some people like to think, but the league as a whole, in terms of training methodology, nutrition and fitness has become far more professional and exacting. Not least because of the salary cap as well, I think teams are much closer today. I think it makes winning based purely on talent much harder!


Entirely agreed and well put. The athleticism has increased by an order of magnitude or greater. There is no longer a place for non-skaters just to provide a physical presence. Goalies have likewise adapted by becoming more physically capable. Teams are more consist in executing systems throughout the league. The difference between the top and bottom of the standings is now akin to what the difference was between top and bottom seeds among playoff teams. I referred to what Barry Trotz did in Washington for exactly that reason. He took a perennial playoff team with a all-time goal scorer and… Read more »


I like Vegas and I can definitely say I wish they had spent their money more prudently than on Pietrangelo. Doesn’t have the high end skill of a Makar nor is he a shut down defender.


If you look at pretty much every single Stanley Cup champion from the last 25 years, you will see that they all went through this before climbing the big mountain. In fact, I would say since the Avs last won the cup in 2001, it has only gotten harder. So yeah, as fans I think we can all relax now, lean back in our chairs and watch this team either climb to that next level, prove a lot of disgruntled fans wrong or they can remain a group of pretenders, who despite all the media hype, we should remember, has… Read more »


Correct me if I’m wrong, aren’t you literally the same writer who just said the Avs were too talented for knights after game one? Lmao, and if it wasn’t you, it was literally on this website. Quite ironic how quickly that changed and how all the fans talking about a sweep disappeared. Also, with flat cap and the Avs having to sign Landeskog, makar, Grubauer, Saad, etc, they’re clearly going to lose someone significant, along with MacKinnon needing new contract and massive raise in two years. But, Sakic is very good GM, can’t believe some Avs fans are shitting on… Read more »


One line and one defenseman make you top loaded. The rest of your lineup is below Vegas on average.
If hockey were played as a two minute game I would say Colorado is more talented.


Any Avs fan with half a brain knew this was going to go the distance and that Vegas was going to be a handful to overcome. This team is talented and based on most of the comments on this site, most fans here are super critical of the Avs play so far but know full well how good of a team Vegas is.

Kevin Healey

The grit went out the window with Nazem Kadri’s obnoxiously long suspension.

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