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Avalanche playoffs

Dater: Ghosts of Avs’ Recent Past Continue to Haunt in Shocking Game 5 Loss



David Zalubowski/AP

Hold your hearses. The St. Louis Blues are not dead yet.

This game tonight so eerily resembled Game 7, Round 1 of the playoffs, in 2014, it might have well have been played at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (that’s the “Shining” hotel, kids). The Colorado Avalanche in 2014 had four one-goal leads in Game 7 against the Wild, including a one-goal lead with under two minutes left, before losing that lead and the game, 5-4 in overtime.

The Colorado Avalanche tonight had leads of 3-0 and 4-3, in the final two minutes, but lost 5-4 in overtime to the St. Louis Blues. The only difference between that night eight years ago and tonight: this was a Game 5, in the second round. The Avs still have two more chances to advance to the third round, instead of having their season over.

But, yeah, this gag job was worse than the last one. Much worse.

How Andy Dufresne ever escaped Shawshank Prison, and how the Colorado Avalanche ever lost this hockey game, I’ll never know. I can’t believe the Avs actually lost this game. The Avs were just miles and miles better than the Blues for the first 40 minutes and, despite blowing that 3-0 lead, got a brilliant Nathan MacKinnon goal to go up 4-3 with under two minutes left.

Ball Arena has rarely, if ever, been louder. Then, the Avs had about three chances to get an empty-net goal, but failed every time. The final time, captain Gabe Landeskog made a low-IQ hockey play and failed to shoot the puck at an empty net with about 45 seconds left. Instead, Landeskog skated over the red line, to avoid a potential icing violation, but he got stripped of the puck. Landeskog, in hindsight, should have tried to shoot at the empty net. Even if you miss, you still have a faceoff back in your end, and you can better set a defensive scheme from there. Instead, the Avs scrambled around and got out of position on the steal of Landeskog, and Darcy Kuemper allowed a juicy rebound for a Rob Thomas goal. 4-4.


Then, Kuemper got beat on a long shot from the point in OT. Game over. On to St. Louis, for Game 6. Not only is this series still alive, so are the ghosts of the last three years in the second round. Not to mention, the ghost of Game 7, 2014. Oh, and did we mention that Darcy Kuemper was part of that Game 7 in 2014 too, and wasn’t the winning goalie for the Wild (he left the game, injured)?

“He (Kuemper) was like a lot of guys tonight. Not good enough,” a stunned Avs coach, Jared Bednar, said.

MacKinnon’s brilliant effort – a hat trick – was utterly wasted. There’s no way the Avs should have lost this game, but they still found a way. The Blues deserve credit for never quitting, but the Avs made things so much easier for them. They got all conservative again, when up 3-0. That’s not their game. They never do well when they sit back and get conservative, but they did. That probably falls on Bednar, whose teams still have a bad habit of doing that.

Superstreak Bonus!

Instead of pushing the pace more and just finishing the Blues off, they allowed a couple of cheapie goals to make it a 3-2 game. Then, you could just feel the Avs freeze up from there. Everybody started getting nervous, and the Blues took advantage. They kept pucks in after failed Avs clearouts and crashed the net, beating Kuemper and tardy D-men to pucks.

I’ll admit, I was already looking ahead to Edmonton or Calgary for the next round, just like the rest of you. But once the Blues tied it late in the third, I already thought it was over. The Avs just choked the game away, plain and simple.

“It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy,” Landeskog said.

Yeah, sorry Cap, but this game should have been an easy win, after a 3-0 lead. The more accurate assessment would have been: “We blew it. How did that happen?”

Said MacKinnon: “We’ve got to move on, like Gabe said. Come back and win Game 6 on the road. It’s a fun opportunity for us. Hopefully everything happens for a reason. We’ve got to go get this done, but yeah, it should make our team a little harder, a little more grittier in these situations. [You] can’t win every series in four or five. They have a great team and we’re excited to go get a huge challenge in St. Louis and try to close out a series.”

They still have two more chances not to choke this series away.

Otherwise, it’s going to be the longest summer of their lives.

Terry Frei and Kelsey Hammond contributed to this report

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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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Spencer Bradshaw

Kuemper has yet to make a critical save in these playoffs. Whenever the Avs need him to come up big, he drops the ball. He and the second line were absolutely brutal tonight.

Richard Trujillo

Lots of the questions about this team have been answered during the last 2 and a half weeks. Unfortunately, the biggest question mark about this team has been the goaltending. I think Kuemper has given us a resounding answer to the Avs goaltending question. They flat out aren’t good enough between the pipes and if the are lucky enough to make it out of this series they have absolutely no chance at winning a Cup. Sadly, this Cup window is about to shut and we are maybe a year away from being in salary cap hell (unless they figure out… Read more »

Casey Pond

Dump Rantanen’s salary…yep, but the injury excuse is coming…

Aaron Rud

I agree. I can hear it now.

Donald Victory

It is clear this team is not ready and under Bednar never will be ready. Championship calibur teams do not collapse. Still in shock they choked this away. I will not be watching any more of this disaster on ice.

Bench LOC, the POS cross-checked Shenn to the face and got called for it and the Blues scored soon after the penantly expired.

And fire Bednar. I don’t give a damn about his flashy attire, I only care about watching quality hockey, win or lose.

Thor's Hammer

Well, end of second and 3-1 Avs. Thank you Logan O’Connor – fourth line toilet scrubber hopefully cut or traded – for taking another totally unnecessary dumb penalty which eventually led to the Tarasenko goal (Val losing his stick did not help and boy he was bad). Got to clean up the stupid stuff, especially the once every 40 game goal scrubs! But that is Bednar hockey. Then the total collapse in the third period. And LandeStupid had a chance to seal it but was too concerned with icing. LandeStupid, LandeStupid, LandeStupid. And Toews was pitiful, as was the entire defense except Bo. Keumper needed to… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Thor's Hammer

Absolutely right on Nichuskin. Horrific all night. Turnovers, being muscled off the puck and out of position. The worst game I’ve ever seen Val play.

Aaron Rud

Donald. Thor, whoever you are, you make some good points at times, but it’s done with such invective and snarkiness that everyone gives you a minus.

Karl Keen

Just stunned. This strategy to not have our pk forwards in at the end is plain dumb and Kuemper just terrible in the third. Plain and simply, an incredible choke, a total waste of a great individual performance, and our 2nd round ghosts persist.

Sean Washington

On the coach without a brain…

Charlie Anderson

WTF are you talking about? Bednar told them to go collapse in the 2nd half of the 3rd? It’s hard to take you serious you just seem like a troll


This team’s downfall will be their passive approach to shorthanded situations and an inability to block shots with more than a stick deflection….

Thomas Wilgus

Start Francouz; Kuemper chokes under pressure. The AVs stopped playing their high tempo game while trying to sit on a 3 goal lead and paid the price for letting the Blues back in it. I know this is SC hockey but the AVs gave this heartbreaker away.

Casey Pond

It all started, like last game, with dumb LOC cross-checking a player to the face. For a dork who rarely scores, putting the opponent on the powerplay is plain dumb. Bench that junk. Game Blooos hope at the end of two.


Never been impressed with Kuemper. Pretty easy goals he let in but its not all his fault.

The Blue’s final 2 goals were mirrors of each other. How the hell do you, as a defensive player, allow an opponent to just sit at the shoulder of your goalie? And let them do it TWICE!? Sorry, but Makar should have been like stink on $sheit next to Thomas.

Just heart breaking…

Karl Keen

Agree we bulked you a bit I thought to apparently just allow players to stand untouched in front of net

Karl Keen

Sorry typos I meant to say we did bulk up but it doesn’t matter if we are so out of position

Donald Victory

Yes, that is Bednar coaching. Is it that hard with the timeouts taken at end of game to tell the team “I want no one free in front of the net!”
Bednar is the worst. His legacy lives on…will eventually solidify at worst playoff coach ever in NHL history!

Casey Pond

Bednar blows. As expected, stops playing plan A, then has no plan B, C, …Z plan!

Utter moron!

Last edited 6 months ago by Casey Pond

Patrick Roy was scared of losing. These guys seem fine with it.


It’s those second round demons…unbelievable. Those demons are alive and kicking. Well, the only good thing I have to say is if the Avs prevail in this series, they will be a tough nut to crack.

Other than that…everone except for 29 deserves a time-out in the shame corner. That was truly pitiful!

Donald Victory

Let’s assume TBL makes the final. Avs chance = nil. They beat TBL in the regular season no problem, but Cooper and company are superior to Bednar and scrubs.


The Lightning look pretty invincible at the moment, but all streaks come to an end.

Karl Keen

Who cares about TBL we got to make out of this round

Thor's Hammer

You missed the point.

These fragile primadonas will never win the Cup. Even if they beat STL and win WCF, no chance against TBL.

Got it?

Last edited 6 months ago by Thor's Hammer

Are you even an Avs fan? It’s sad to see so many people wasting energy bashing a team they don’t appear to like. I’ve been a fan since their inception in the 95-96 season and have faith they will pull out this series and quiet us all. Go Avs!!

Donald Victory

Not to steal Thor’s thunder, but I have been a fan since the Colorado Rockies were in Denver and moved to New Jersey (hih, you say?). Can you name one player from that era without using Google? Of course not…

Lanny MacKinnon (Nathan’s dad)
Rod ??????
Wilf ??????

Last edited 6 months ago by Donald Victory
Karl Keen

No I think we would play TBL tough. We just have this mental block we need to surpass in the 2nd round.


Inexcusable. A waste of MacKinnon’s incredible game. Way too passive on pressuring the point letting the Blues attack at will. Enough of Bednar and his mixing up of lines. Put the MGM line back together. Maybe it will get Rants going again. EJ and JJ together. Toews and Makar then Byram and Manson on defense. No killer instinct in the Avs. Expect a game 7 back in Denver. This team is ripe for a collapse. Kuemper is an average goal tender – and that’s it. I was hoping he’d lift up his game but not tonight. If the Avs somehow… Read more »


I thought Kuemper had been alright up until now. He had some key saves in the third period of Game 4. But yeah sure…he is not Roy!

Well Roy was known for rarely ever having 2 bad games in a row…let’s see if he can find channel his inner St.Patty.


I agree with you on the D pairings. Except JJ proved me right this last game. He was dogshit. Time for Ryan Murray.


I think this one might be on Bednar. The Avs were completely different when they came out for the third. Like you said, AD, they got conservative. I was shaking my head throughout the period as to why they’d go that route. They’re a team that’s been go go go no matter the score. I think they, and maybe most the coaching staff were already looking to round three, after the second and decided to conserve energy. I don’t know. Landeskog not taking the shot could really go either way. He misses and ices it and they score, everyone’s saying… Read more »


If the Avs lose, A.D., then go out guns a blazing. (Sorry for the in opportune reference during these times.) Stay aggressive. There is no pressure on the Blues at the point. The Avs are sitting back waiting for something to happen – which is usually bad. Timid on the penalty kill although tonight they were much better than in past games. Lastly – reunite the MGM line and stick with the defensive pairings that were so successful during the regular season. Reunite Makar and Toews, JJ and EJ and Byram and Manson. Ask Nichuskin to show up for the… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by ricoflashback

Avs got the Blues right where they want them. Sure they wanted to win tonight, but they woke up and realized a thing or two and know exactly what to do. They’ll easily finish this Friday night. Let’s have hope… go Avalanche!!!

Aaron Rud

Why is that so hard to see from the bench? I’ve seen this continually in sports. Getting a lead and sitting on it NEVER wins in the long run. Trust me, as a Vikings fan, I had to see Dennis Green soil himself in the NFC Championship game against Atlanta.

Donald Victory

Yep, which is coaching and team mental. Henrik called this too. Avs are like the coach, soft. Landeskog is a moron. He had plenty of time to score an ENG, but blew it. Rip the C from his sweather. Give it to Byram!

Bob Neal

That’s exactly what killed them. When you are up in a game by 3-0 you don’t change your game plan to start dumping the puck and calling off the forecheck with no trap behind it. It was so obvious. Also, why does this team have so many problems with getting caught in “bad line change”. Oopsie another goal. Darcy needed to make that last save so now the doubts have crept back in on his capabilities by his teammates. What a shame to waste a performance like MacKinnon had last night. That third goal was simply amazing.


Major momentum swing in favor of st Louis…this series will go game 7.


Been saying it all year. Kuemper is an avg goalie playing on a great team. He’s no better or worse than Grubauer. Grub also played worse the more the pressure went up. The only question with Kemps was if he would be better in that scenario. Now we have the answer. Just as bad as Grub was in SC playoff pressure moments. I doubt this team will be able to win a cup with a Kuemper quality goalie in net. If they do, it will be by carrying his mistakes and finding some good puck luck along the way. That’s… Read more »

Nick Chapman

I will either agree or disagree with this based solely on game 6. Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Andrei Vasilevskiy….these guys occasionally have a bad playoff game. But EVERY TIME they do, they immediately bounce back with a hall of fame performance. If Kuemper folds like origami in game 6, he is not a Cup goalie. If he rises to the pressure like a Vasilevskiy in an elimination game, then he’s a keeper.

Shout out to Vasilevskiy by the way for going 7-0 in his last 7 elimination games, with SIX shutouts!!! 😳

Karl Keen

What a great game by Byrum though I have to say


Avs will win this in game 6. Tonight was a fluke that woke the sleeping giant. It isn’t even close.,, Avs win 6-2.


What is wrong with Rantanen? Is he really injured, again??

The guy is 6.4 and makes over 9 mil/year but is just INVISIBLE!!!

Bednar has to bench him NOW!!!

Brian Levesque

And replace him with who exactly


This. Not to mention, Rants has been invisible offensively, but has played the best defense and forechecking of his career this series. Complete evolution of his game.


Sad to see all the “Avs fans” here bashing Bednar or Keumper. I see the Avs sealing the deal in game 6 on Friday night. Let’s all have some faith in our team. Go Avalanche!!


On paper, sure the Avs should still win that series. But we are in the playoffs, and we are therefore far beyond a paper exercise. This now a game of mental attrition and resilience. And you don’t need a psychology degree to understand what kind of damage this kind of result can do to the Avs’ mental game. You have to remember that hockey is a game of calculated risks more so than most other sports. Every play is a careful and very fluid consideration between taking a risk or playing it safe..just look at Landy’s halfhearted empty-net at the… Read more »

John Klingenstein

Tough loss but the Avs are the better team, and I expect them to win the series. Not gonna overreact. It’s just one game. That being said, I’d like to see Ryan Murray in for JJ. JJ gives the team nothing, and he’s slow as hell. 12 wasted minutes. Seems like everytime hes on the ice they get hemmed in, get worked on the cycle and have to just chip it out. Never quick outlets on the tape. Would have loved to have Girard in that game…and I’d like to see Burakovsky back in for LOC. If the penalty killforwards… Read more »


I agree with all of this. LOC is better as a change-up player, not a lineup regular. Burakovsky is money in elimination games, too.


I’m not saying the Avs played a good game, but damn…this comment section is rough.

Chins up, boys.

Jim Strohmeier

We were at that infamous game 7 loss in 2014, and I’d have to say, last night’s game was not the same, but it sure felt like that loss. Nathan MacKinnon, literally and figuratively, carried this team on his back – the rest of the roster had an obligation to win it just based on the superstar’s humongous effort and hat trick. I still hold a +600 WIN ticket for the Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup that I bought back in Oct 2021, but this hard core Avs fan (from the very beginning in 1995), is less confident now.… Read more »

Donald Victory

What concerns me the most is the stupidity of this team. Game four, morons took two penalties and Blooos scored on both. Morale to the story, stay the f**k out of the box. Game 5, moron LOC takes a totally dumb penalty and Bloos score as it expired. POS like LOC should never, ever be in the box. Bench that f**knut!


Keumper had some hicups, but is still good enough to win the whole thing. The Avs have shown they can beat anyone in this league – consistently. All this talk about how TBL are unbeatable is garbage. Still confident the Avs win the cup this year.

Gerald Todd

Can’t believe the PK unit wasn’t on the ice in the final minutes. Kadri was a -3.

Eric Sandage

Bednar and Kuemper are fighting for biggest disgrace, unfortunately they have a lot of company. Did Kadri make the trip back from St Louis or was he still in town picking up every social media mention for his book? I didn’t see him, so I don’t know.

This franchise is a joke and a meme right now and they deserve every Gif the public makes. Whimps.

Bela Barner

Lifelong Note fan here. The Avs are clearly the better team. The Blues aren’t slow, but the Avs advantage in speed is jarring. It allows them to send two guys in to forecheck and recover easily. It also makes them lethal in transition. The Blues got back in when the Avs pulled back and shortened the rink. Kuemper was sloppy with rebounds and the Blues made them pay.

The Avs should win the series, but Kuemper could be a problem.

Frank Dasta

Not to mention, it always seems like anytime a team wastes chances to put an opponent team away early in a series, they always suffer an injury to a key player when they should have been resting for the next series.

Gerald Todd

Full disclosure- Blues fan offering a different perspective. Don’t discount the mental effect of Kadri’s showboating after his great play in game 4. I can’t believe MacKinnon or Bednar didn’t stop him but it went on all game. He’s a great player but the really great ones act like they’ve been there before. Lots of locker room material. Another factor that looms large is Scandella’s return. If he gets back to 20 TOI and Faulk and Parayko drop back to 20 TOI a lot of those open lanes will close up. Berube went with 7 D men to try to… Read more »


Game 4 Kadri was the monster the Blues, their fan-base, and Berube created. Whether it affected his game or the Avs is debatable.

Gerald Todd

No, it didn’t start with this year. Remember how well he played in last year’s second round? No, due to his 8 game suspension for the dirty hit on Faulk. One of his 8 suspensions. Other teams discarded him for just that reason. And death threats on social media? My wife got one for a cookie recipe.

Charlie Anderson

Now THAT was a stinker, except for Mackinnon. I’m not sure the Avs can recover from that. This series is probably over, as in, Blues are gonna win in 7 from what it seems like now. Doesn’t seem like we would have any chance in the Final anyways, Vasi vs. Kemps isn’t looking good for us right now. Kemps is NOT in the zone. We in trouble mates.

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