After each Colorado Avalanche playoff game, I’ll put out some rapid reaction on what I’m feeling right after the game, before gathering more thoughts for Plus/Minus in the morning.
What did I just witness? Because it certainly didn’t have the look or feel of a playoff game. At least for one team, that is.
Avalanche fans started heading for the exits during the final TV timeout of the third period. With their home team down by two goals, they had given up hope. Do you blame them? Through the first 55 minutes of the game, the Avalanche didn’t give them much of anything to cheer for. The only goal Colorado scored was off a big mistake by Philipp Grubauer. Beyond that, the German goaltender was barely tested.
Seattle was winning every battle along the wall, every scrum in front of the net, and sometimes, with very little resistance.
In the biggest game of the year, the Avalanche laid an egg. There’s no other way to put it. They were outworked, outplayed, and now, they are one game away from an early playoff exit. If you showed that game to an unsuspecting fan with zero context of when the game took place, they would probably think it was your standard regular season game in the middle of December. That’s how it felt looking down from the press box.
There are plenty of problems with this team. They didn’t have Cale Makar on the blueline, but they’ve played without him plenty of times this season. Everything has compounded, though. Valeri Nichushkin‘s absence has been extremely noticeable, and he isn’t coming back any time soon it sounds like. Josh Manson can’t be playing at more than 70% at this point. Watching him during the game, he struggled to just turn around and go get the puck. Lines 2-4 look nothing like the team from a year ago. And of course, they haven’t had their Captain all season long.
None of that, however, excuses a complete lack of intensity in the biggest game of the season. The Avalanche came out flat, and looked lifeless all night long. And because of that, they’re right where they deserve to be – on the brink of elimination.